One of my favourite fielding positions was the outfield along the boundary (sometimes called boundary-rider or sweeper). I had a very good throwing arm because I did a lot of throwing growing up. Whenever we needed a boundary fielder I was the one for the job.
Your role out there isn’t to sit on your heels and hope for a ball to come. Be proactive! Here are a few things you should be doing out there and why:
- Taking catches when a batsman tries to clear the fence or a top edge flies off the bat in your direction.
- Ground fielding – a batsman may hit the ball in your general direction and it’s your job to race to the ball, pick it up cleanly and get it back to the wicketkeeper or bowler’s end to stop extra runs or create a runout.
- Acting as back-up – you should always be reading the game and running to the nearest end to back up bad throws or fumbles from your keeper.
- Assisting other fielders – you would have seen some of the amazing catches made when a fielder jumps over the boundary line, knocks the ball back and another fielder takes the catch. This wouldn’t happen if both boundary riders weren’t concentrating and actively keeping involved!
The key is to keep switched on! You are by yourself, there’s no one to talk to and you can be there for quite a long time without getting a touch. It’s a crucial fielding position that wins matches. Practising can be a lot of fun and is the only way you will become an expert at it. I will focus two parts:
- When to attack or defend
- The technique of picking up the ball – attacking and defensive.
When a ball is hit out in your direction the most important thing is to get to it as quickly to prevent further runs. If the ball isn’t straight at you – to your left or right, don’t run around the back of the ball. Try and judge the quickest route to intersect the ball before it reaches the boundary. This takes some practice. On different fields, the ball runs along the ground quicker or slower.
About this time, decide whether to use a defensive or attacking pick-up. This will take a lot of awareness and ability to make a quick decision.With an attacking pickup be ready to throw the ball quicker. Attack the ball just when you are about to get down, the ball should be lined up with your right foot (reverse for left-handers). Your right foot turns sideways so the inside of your foot is directly behind the ball. If you miss the ball your foot becomes the second form of defence.
Get down low and keep your bum low to the ground. This helps to keep your eyes level and nearer to the ball. Bend your knees, not your back. Don’t take your eyes off the ball until you know it is in your hands.
Jason Krejza applies his vast experience working with the world’s best players and coaches to his own coaching. Jason had a history-making Test debut when his 12 wickets for the match against