Infield – the inner part of a cricket field with a radius of 27.4 meters, enclosed in an Outfield ring. The key area where the main game actions take place. It is necessary to distinguish between Infield and Close-Infield: the second one is located inside the oval Infield zone and represents two intersecting circles with a radius of 13.7 meters each.
Unlike fielders, infielders (that is, those cricketers who are in the Infield zone during draws) must have a wider range of skills, fast reflexes, attentiveness and dexterity. They are the ones who make the game truly spectacular, so higher requirements are placed on infielders.
The division of the field into the Infield zone and the Outfield zone caused the introduction of a number of restrictions for fielders. The main goal is to avoid the game imbalance that occurs if the fielders help the bowler too actively. However, it is the attacking player, together with the team captain, who determines their positions on the field – adjusted for the fact that no fielder has the right to step on the pitch or cross it until the batsman has touched the ball.
Field restrictions can vary significantly depending on the format of the game, as well as on the gender of the cricketers (for example, in women’s cricket, the Infield radius is smaller). For example, in Powerplay competitions, only two fielders can be located in the Outfield during the first ten overs (if we are talking about an inning of 50 overs). If the inning is limited to 24 overs, then at least three fielders must remain on the Off or Leg Side.
- The wicket. The wicket-keeper’s position in the Infield zone is behind the batsman, but the distance may vary depending on which category the opponent’s bowler belongs to. So, if we are talking about a fast bowler, then the wicket-keeper can move away to a distance of up to 20 meters, if there is a spinner in the opposite position – on the contrary, move close to the wicket.
- The players in this position are located behind the wicket-keeper; their main task is to intercept the ball. Four players can close this zone at the same time, but, as a rule, captains send no more than three.
- A mini-zone that is a continuation of Slips and is located in the front diagonal part closer to the wicket-keeper. The player assigned to it performs virtually the same functions but can bring more benefit if the match is held on a slow pitch.
- Leg slip and Leg gully. Two positions that are opposite to Slips. They are not always closed, and even if the captain decides to use this zone, he is unlikely to send more than one player there, since batsmen, as a rule, reliably protect it. An exception may be a situation when a batsman has poor control of both hands and an experienced spinner who knows the tactics of deceptive strikes acts on the side of the attacking team.
- Silly point and Short leg. The first position is located close to the pitch from the Off side at an angle of 45 degrees. The second is opposite to it (On side). The player assigned by the captain to Silly point plays an important role in the attacking actions of the team and can be especially dangerous for batters if a spinner serves the ball. This is a potentially dangerous position, which requires considerable skill and a good reaction from the cricketer because he should never step on the pitch during the run-up of the bowler. Short leg is more often used if there is a fast bowler in the attack, but the player’s task, in this case, is the same – to monitor the bounce of the ball, intercepting it if possible.
- Silly mid-on and Silly mid-off. As the name implies, these positions are located perpendicular to the wicket line (the first one is right in front of Silly point closer to the side of the pitch on which the batsman is located, the second one is in front of Short leg). As in the previous case, the role of the players closing these areas is to help the spinner, forcing the batsman to make mistakes and intercept the ball.
- Point and Backward point. These points are located one after another on the Off side closer to the edge of the Infield. Their exact localization depends on the bowler’s playing qualities (for example, if there is a spinner in the attack, then the cricketer will move closer to the batsman on Point and Backward point). The task of these players is to intercept the ball on the rebound, so, as a rule, captains put the most resilient and physically strong team members here.
- Cover and Extra cover. These two positions are opposite to the previous ones (they are located one after the other on the same side of the field but closer to the bowler). Often they remain uncovered, especially if the captain is inclined to rely on the bowler’s skill. However, players on Cover and Extra cover can provide considerable assistance to the attack, intercepting the batsman’s blows to send him out faster.
- Mid-on and Mid-off. They are located behind the bowler on the On side and Off side, respectively. The task of the players in these positions is to beat the batsman, especially if he is good at drives. The Mid-on and Mid-off positions are among the most responsible since many blows pass through this area of the Infield. This is partly why the captain chooses one of them for himself.
- Square leg and Backward Square Leg. They are located on the opposite side of the Infield from the Point and Backward point, not far from the second referee. Players in these positions are indispensable if the opponent’s batsman is good at performing Hook and Pull strikes. Their task is not to let the ball outside the Infield, so captains often choose physically strong team members at the Square leg and Backward Square Leg positions.
- Mid-wicket. Another position that is located closer to the Infield contour on the Leg side is closer to the bowler. It is considered important and responsible since it is in this zone that batsmen most often hit the ball. Thus, a player in the Mid-wicket position helps the attack and turns the course of the game, especially if the opponent’s batsman cannot boast of a sufficiently diverse arsenal of strikes.
- Fine leg. This position is located behind the Square leg at an angle of slightly less than 45 degrees with respect to the batsman. It is used mainly in cases when a player with a bat prefers risky strikes.
- Fly slip. A player in this position is often called a Short third man. This zone is located behind the Slips right on the border of the Infield and, as a rule, is used as an alternative to them if the team focuses on defensive actions. The player closing the Fly slip must be ready for a large number of moves in order not to let the ball outside the Infield.
This is interesting: Infield is provided not only on cricket fields, but also on baseball fields and racetracks.
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