“England’s catching has been fairly undistinguished”- Dan Norcross, BBC Test Match Special. As I write England Women have dropped 4 catches as South Africa chase 374 in the latest women’s world cup game. The phrase “catches win matches” is a bit of a cliche but its so often true especially at the top level of cricket where mistakes get punished by big scores. Take Chris Scott who famously dropped Brian Lara on 18 before he went onto strike 501* and these other famous other drops in this AOC Top 10 Article.
I wonder whether the amount of practice and quality of practice in this area is good enough?? … do the number of catches mimic the number of cover drives played in opening batters for example or the number of yorkers practised by death bowlers??
Typically catching practice would involve the coach whacking balls up in the air but how many balls land in the right area? How many times does the player actually get a realistic catching opportunity? Do coaches differentiate the feed based on the needs of the athlete, what element of the catch do they need to focus on? Are we coaching catching or just hoping for the best?? Can players still perform top grabs whilst under large physical or mental pressure??
This great drill “Machine Gun High Catches” from former England Fielding coach Mark Garaway simulates this idea superbly well – the athlete is on the run so there is the build up of lactic acid in the muscles plus the Freestyle ensures the ball goes into a good space (that the coach can control with fine movement to suitably challenge the player). Vision is also vitally important and quite a new area of sports science … our eye is like a muscle and can be trained so getting a quick turn and vision on the ball is vitally important.