How to set a field in cricket

Updated April 17, 2017

In cricket, the term “setting a field” refers to the placement of fielders of the bowling team. The arrangement of fielders depends on the style of the bowler, the characteristics of the batsman and the state of the ground. The team is not obliged to keep in the same position throughout the match. The captain may choose to reset the field many times during the game to account for varying abilities of the batting team.

The playing field in a cricket ground is called the “field.” Any in this area is termed a “fielder." The central oblong between the two wickets is called the pitch. The captain of the fielding team has eleven players to place. The position of the bowler, near the pitch, and the wicket-keeper, behind the wicket, narrows down the number of players for fielding to nine.

Study the terminology of cricket positions. There are 26 basic fielding positions on a cricket field. These can be adjusted into a further 30 positions. The field is divided into two areas: a central oval called the “infield” and an outer ring called the “outfield.” More than half of all positions lie in the infield. The left and right of the pitch either side of the wicket is mapped differently for left-handed and right-handed batsmen. Areas to the left of the bowler as he faces the batsmen are called “off” and those to the right are called “on” if the batsman is right handed. If the batsman is left handed, the left side is on and the right side is off.

Create a paper plan of the field before the match. Draw the perimeter of the ground and then lightly mark out a central circle, about half way to the center of the field. This represents the infield. Draw the oblong of the pitch in the centre of the infield. Use dots for the positions; these could be done with stickers. If you are able to pin your plan to a cork board, use either coloured drawing pins or colour-headed pins to represent the fielders. Use one colour for the batsman, another for the bowler and the wicket keeper, and then nine pins of another colour for the fielders.

Place markers for the wicket-keeper and the bowler. Set a standard field first. A standard set involves six core positions that place fielders in the likeliest path of any struck ball.

Mark out the core positions. These positions include cover and midwicket who stand either side of the pitch, more than half way down the pitch from the batsman. The cover position is usually distanced further into the modified “extra cover” position. The other four core positions are mid-on and mid-off, who stand either side of the bowler’s starting position, as well as third man and fine leg (often modified to “long leg”), who stand in the outfield behind the batsman.

Place markers for the three remaining fielders, filling any of the positions that form a curve between cover and the wicket-keeper. Working from the wicket-keeper, these positions are first, second, third and fourth slip, who stand close together behind the off side shoulder of the batsman, and then, spaced further apart, lie the gully and point positions.

Alter the plan according to your strategy, or what you know about the batsmen of the other team. Attacking strategies bring more men in closer to the pitch,while defending strategies push them further away. If you aim to get wickets by catching the player out you can sacrifice out field positions and bring all the fielders in close, filling up the slips. An attacking set would also bring the cover player back from extra cover. Almost all resources in this set are focused on the off side of the infield.

Adjust your plans in the field. Early observations of the batsman’s habits will tell you where to adjust the set of the field. Weather conditions, faults in the pitch and the newness of the ball will require you to set the field differently.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • pen
  • cork board
  • coloured drawing pins
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About the Author

Stephen Byron Cooper began writing professionally in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Science in computing from the University of Plymouth and a Master of Science in manufacturing systems from Kingston University. A career as a programmer gives him experience in technology. Cooper also has experience in hospitality management with knowledge in tourism.