Cricket Fielding Positions: Explaining Each Basic Position

Know all cricket fielding positions in the game and how they have evolved over the years. Also, know how they derived their names from.

Cricket Fielding Positions: Explaining Each Basic Position
Subhayan Dutta

Written by: Subhayan Dutta

(Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Dillip Mohanty

(Sports Editor)

Last updated: 2024-01-19

7 minutes read

The number of cricket fielding positions is plenty and for good reason. Gone are the times when the bowling side stuck to an orthodox field set-up that allowed batsmen to easily exploit the gaps.

Fielding in cricket today is as much scientific as it is physically demanding. Modern cricketers train according to their physical abilities to excel at specific positions, whether it be at the slip cordon, where reaction time is the minimum, or at the ropes where physical stature and presence of mind are called into action in split seconds.

Below is the list of all cricket fielding position names ranging from the wicketkeeper and third man to the mid-wicket and fine leg. 

All Fielding Positions in Cricket


Basic Fielding Positions

1.    Wicketkeeper
2.    Third Man
3.    Slips
4.    Gully
5.    Point
6.    Cover
7.    Mid-Off
8.    Mid-On
9.    Mid-Wicket
10.    Square Leg
11.    Fine Leg
12.    Short Leg (Bat Pad)

Cricket_fielding_positions2.svg
 

Advanced or Modified Cricket Fielding Positions: 11 Players

1.    Short Third Man
2.    Extra Cover
3.    Forward Short Leg
4.    Deep Backward Point
5.    Deep Point
6.    Deep Extra Cover (Sweeper)
7.    Deep Cover (Sweeper)
8.    Long-Off
9.    Long-On
10.    Deep Mid-Wicket
11.    Deep Forward Square-Leg
12.    Deep Square Leg
13.    Backward Square Leg
14.    Deep Backward Square Leg
15.    Leg Slip
16.    Short Fine Leg

How are Cricket Fielding Positions Named?

Interestingly, the game makers tried naming the cricket ground fielding positions as per the polar coordinates with the batsman at the striker’s end being the primary anchor. Hence, terms like “cover”, “leg” and “mid-wicket” refer to the angles from the batsman while the terms like “silly”, “long”, “deep” and more, describe the distance from the batsman.

It is worth mentioning that these are designed keeping in mind the fielding positions in cricket for right handed batsman. While cricket has seen many start left-handers over the years, most top-order batters of the early days were right-handed and the strategy needed to be made accordingly.

Cricket Fielding Positions.jpg

The terms are self-explanatory in the literal sense. The “leg” refers to the Leg side of the batter, the same as the “On” and “Off” sides. The distances from batsmen are further described as the following:

●    Silly: Refers to a position that is very close to the batsman.

●    Mid: Refers to some midpoint between the batsman and the boundary.

●    Long and Deep: Refers to a position that’s far from the batsman and closer to the batsman.

●    Short: Refers to a position that is closer to the batsman but not as close as the “silly”.

There are five angles in cricket fielding positions - square, backward, forward, fine and wide - that similarly derive their names.

●    Fine: The cricket fielding angle is more akin to an extension of an imaginary line that runs through the centre of the pitch and splits the stumps.

●    Square: This angle is an imaginary line that extends further off the popping crease.

●    Backward: This is the fielding angle behind the square angle and the batsman.

●    Forward: This is the fielding angle in front of the square and the batsman.

●    Wide: This fielding angle is farther from an imaginary line that runs down the middle of the pitch and splits the stumps.

Every Fielding Position in Cricket: Explained

Before diving into the cricket fielding positions, one must understand that the circular ground is divided into three parts - Close Infield, Inner Ring and Outfield.

The close infield refers to the 10-15 yards close circle, where fielders are placed not only to save singles but also to take catches. The inner ring refers to the 30-yard circle, which can be best explained through the field restrictions in ODIs and T20Is. The outfield is referred to the entire space between the inner ring and the boundary ropes.

Wicket-Keeper

The only fielding position in cricket that is irreplaceable, a wicketkeeper stands behind the stumps. One is generally seen standing closer to the stumps while keeping to a spinner and father from the wicket when a pace bowler is running at the batsman. Also known as a gloveman, a wicket-keeper is required to have exceptional hand-eye coordination to execute lightning-quick stumpings and catches apart from exhibiting great athleticism to stop the balls from going to the boundary.

Slip Cordon in Test Matches.jpeg
Slips

The slip fielders are placed on the off-side of a batsman to take a catch in case the batsman edges the ball. Like a wicketkeeper, a slip fielder would also be required to get the ball before it hits the ground.

There are, usually, four slip fielders placed in a distorted diagonal line so that they don’t collide with each other while attempting a catch. Cricket games have, however, seen bowlers placing as many as nine slip fielders. The distance of the slip fielders from the wickets depends on the speed of the bowler.

A rare fielding position is the leg slip, where the fielder stands behind the legside of the batsman. This fielding position comes in handy mostly when a spinner is bowling. Needless to mention, the legside and offside interchanges when setting a cricket fielding position for left-handed batsman and similarly when placing cricket fielding positions for right handed batsman.

Third Man

One of the most popular field positions in white ball cricket is the third man. A third man is strategically placed to prevent the batsmen from playing the cut shot, a stroke that uses the pace of the bowler to guide it towards the boundary. You will be in the third-man region if you draw a line from your slip fielders to the boundary.

Gully

A gully fielder stands pretty close to the slip fielders but more onto the offside of a batsman. Yet another position that’s designed to take catches, especially when a batsman is new to the crease and the fielding side doesn’t want him or her to get settled easily.

The gully sees more catches taken than the slip fielders, especially on slower wickets. Most flying catches in cricket are taken by gully fielders and the quickest of the athletes are placed there. Like a leg slip, a leg gully is also rarely used if the captain feels a heft nick is on the cards.

Fielding Positions in Cricket Ground.jpeg

Point

The fielder who stands in line with the batsman on the offside, is fielding at point. Covering the “square” position is very important for the fielding team as most bowlers try to aim the off-stump and a batsman would try to take singles on such deliveries. Hence, a point fielder is largely responsible for not only stopping singles but executing run-outs as well.

There’s also a fielding position called the backward point, which is a few yards behind the usual point position. A backward point comes in handy against a batsman who is a good player of the cut shot.

Cover

If a point fielder stands at the square position, a cover position is even more square - at around a 45-degree angle towards the offside boundary. Over the years, the cover fielding position has evolved as a tactical position. However, this also demands one to push the limits to cover extra ground to stop important runs.

The field position between the mid-off and cover is called extra cover. This position is used solely based on the strengths of a batsman. One player is usually deployed to cover both the cover and extra cover positions.

Mid off & Mid On

One of the most used fielding positions in cricket is the mid-off, which is a little bit wider than, around 30-45 degrees, from the bowler’s run-up lane. This is a common area that’s exploited by batsmen for singles and doubles, hence a fielder is always needed to cut off them by standing at the mid-off. Since it is closer to the bowler, either a captain or a bowling partner takes up this position during a match.

A mid-on is the exact mirror opposite of a mid-off with the player standing at the leg-side. The aim remains the same, to stop singles at all costs.

Mid-Wicket

This field position is situated on the leg side of a batsman at the edge of the circle, in front of the square angle. A mid-wicket fielder must be a fearless one, as a lot of powerful pull shots are played on that side and oftentimes, the job is to save a boundary.

Square Leg

It is easy to spot a square leg fielder as he or she stands closer to the leg umpire. As the name suggests, the square leg angle is on the same line as the batsman and the wicket, but on the leg side. A large chunk of runs are saved from this position as most of the hook, sweep and pull shots end up coming here.

Fine Leg 

Often standing exactly at the edge of the inner ring, a fine leg is thinner on the leg side as compared to a backward square leg. If a batsman likes flicking the ball exceedingly fine for boundaries then a fine leg works like a charm, like cutting off sweep shots against a spinner.

Short Leg

The opposite of a silly point, a short leg is located on the batsman’s leg side. The strategy is the same, to grapple any chance of a dismissal if the batsman mishits the shot. Mostly used by spinners, a short leg requires a lot of protection as one has to stay very close to a batsman and can get hit on the leg.

FAQs

How many different positions are there in cricket?

There are only nine additional fielding positions that can be occupied at any given moment out of the 11 players on the team, which includes the bowler and the wicketkeeper. The fielding team captain makes the tactical choice of where to put fielders.

What is a fly slip in cricket?

The posture known as "short fine third man" is called the fly slip. He is around the third or fourth slip from the batsman, but instead of catching the ball close to the keeper, he stands on the edge of the infield, like a man at cover, midwicket, mid-off, etc.

Where is Cow Corner?

A position between deep mid-wicket and wide long-on, it got its name from a section of the field which was safe for cows to graze on since relatively few batsmen would smash the ball there.

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Subhayan Dutta

Subhayan Dutta

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.

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