England lead fielding coach Chris Taylor on how to practise the most eye-catching fielding feat in modern cricket: catching on the boundary.
1. KNOW THE ROPE!
These are the ones we see on TV. If you coach a nine-, 10-, 11-year-old this is the sort of thing they want to practise!
Set up a line of cones (not the kind that you could trip over). Put a stump about 15 metres from this imaginary boundary rope. The player will run forward and touch the stump and as they’re back-pedalling, that’s the cue for the ball to be thrown in. For the coach it’s easier to throw the ball because you can be more accurate. The fielder back- pedals towards the boundary rope. Then it’s a case of space orientation. Can they catch the ball but still be aware of where their feet are? Are they comfortable checking out where the line is and still taking the catch? Can they get used to moving their eyes back and forth between the ball and the boundary?
2. THE DOUBLE PLAY
Then introduce another player. This is the most fun one! Because then you can have the situation where they catch the ball and pass it off to their partner before landing on the other side of the line.
Set them up as if they were fielding at mid-on and mid-off. The ball goes straight down the middle, they converge on the ball and have to judge it and call for it… The coach is throwing no more than 20, 30 metres, and you just keep pushing them apart so it gets more challenging.
If you get the throw right then you force them into offloading it and making a judgment. And then you get players watching on the side saying, ‘That was six!’ and you have some fun. Obviously they only actually need to offload the ball when they’re on the move over the line!
That drill works for an international cricketer down to a nine-year-old. It’s a very fun drill and it picks out the real game players.