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Fielding and catching

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Back in the early 80s John Benaud returned to Cumberland as First Grade Captain after stints at Randwick and Penrith.

During a preseason training session, we were having slip catching practice. We were standing in an arc about 15 metres from JB who was smashing catches to us. He mishit one and I ran in to pick up the ball and lob it back to him from about 6 metres away. To my great surprise, he smashed the ball hard straight at me. I instantly saw red as I caught the ball and threw it hard straight back at him, yelling "What are you trying to do, kill me?".

JB just played the ball with a straight bat and said "You will field in the gully."

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5 months ago



In 1998 John Buchanan drafted in an American AAA baseball player and former Major League Baseball coach by the name of Mikey Young as our new fielding coach. Mikey was your typical fast talking, tobacco chewing American sports coach that wore a big bright white smile and an old leather baseball glove on his left hand.

The Australian Cricket team had arrived at the Gabba for a pre-season camp of which fielding was going to be a major part.

John Buchanan said with his slight lisp “Boyz Mikey Young is going to take us through some fielding drills today, and he will be spending the entire season with the team as our new specialist fielding coach. Please make him welcome.”

What Mikey said next in his broad American accent still makes me laugh but also still amazes me today;

“Hey Warno, I watched you on TV last night. The crowd loves you man. I watched you run after the ball in the outfield Warno (You’re not that fast Warno), then pick up the ball, off balance Warno and throw the ball into the catcher like a parabola. Do you know what that is Warno? That parabola throw means time. You won’t run anyone out and you will blow your arm out Warno and you won’t be going to the bank. I bet you like going to the bank Warno?”

The look on Warney’s face was priceless as all the boys sniggered.

“Hey Ricko (Mikey is now talking to Ricky Ponting), I watched you in the field. You’re good man. And faster than Warno. Why do you walk in every ball in the field?”

In 20 years of my then cricket life, no one had ever asked the question. Why do we all walk in, in the field?

“I start deeper in the field, then walk in to create momentum and try to anticipate where the batsmen will be hitting the ball to hopefully create a catch and/or a run out”

“So you’re talking about deception Ricko?”

“Yeah I guess so.”

“Only one problem with that Ricko, you do it every frigging ball. Where is the deception in that? You are also walking in ten metres every ball and if you spend one hundred overs in the field, you are walking an extra six kilometres you don’t need to be walking Ricko. Listen, think like a tennis player returning serve. Take two steps, split step and then go”

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11 months ago
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