Cricket: Slips keep being caught short

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the ways in which cricket has changed in recent years is the position that wicketkeepers now take up when standing back.

They stand significantly deeper than their predecessors, which has caused problems for the slips, especially first slip.

First slip has to position himself behind the wicketkeeper otherwise the two of them will be constantly bumping into each other.

But the fashion now is to take the ball down by the boot tops when standing back. Godfrey Evans, who kept for England for 12 years after the war, used to take the ball at just below knee height.

When the ball was edged wide of him, it would still carry easily to first slip. These days, the ball often does not carry that far.

When Hansie Cronje pushed from the crease at the first ball of Devon Malcolm's fifth over, it flew off the edge towards Graham Thorpe at first slip but fell just short of him. To avoid tangling with Steve Rhodes, Thorpe could not have been standing any closer to the bat.

There are occasions, too, when the edge even falls short of the wicketkeeper and frequently one sees balls which miss the bat, bouncing a second time before reaching the keeper.

If wicketkeepers stood a couple of yards nearer to the stumps, they might have difficulty holding on to the odd top-edge slash. By compensation, they might well be in a position to reach two or three others which before would not have been considered catches.

At the same time, first slip would move up and find life less frustrating.

While first slip has to judge his position from the wicketkeeper, the other slips can adjust by moving forward out of the arc.

Ian Botham, who was a brilliant catcher, did this; he was able to reach more chances; and held on to almost everything.

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