Posted by Gareth Parry Added on: January 29 2013
India's series victory against England in the recent ODI series has taken them to summit of the ODI rankings. Both sides have struggled with their fielding skills in previous series and this was one of the key areas where both sides were looking to improve.
The series saw India bolstering their fielding line up with the dropping of Sehwag, who has been one of the weak links in the Indian fielding efforts, and inclusion of young and athletic players like Rahane and Jadeja. Whilst these selections were made primarily on their batting and bowling merits there can be little doubt that their quality in the field was also a factor in their inclusion in the squad.
England however were weakened not only in their batting and bowling by the rest given to Anderson, Swann and Trott but also in the fielding with each of those players being considered some of England's better fieldsmen.
These changes in the squads were reflected in the overall fielding statistics, which are shown in the table below, for each side.
*Hover over the text in the middle column for details on the value monitored
|India Overall Stats||England Overall Stats|
India's overall performance represented a dramatic improvement from their previous series with Pakistan with the key metric of successful catches improving from 52.9% to 81.8% along with improvements in diving stops and throws at stumps. All of these improvements point to more able fielders in their line up which is supported by the fact that Rahane, Jadeja, Rohit Sharma and Raina all were successful more than 50% of the time when they attempted diving stops and all of them, except Raina who often fields in close positions, caught every chance they had.
*Hover over the text in the title row for details on the value monitored
By contrast the England fielding performance continued their poor run of form in this department in ODI cricket. It has been a significant area of concern for the English coaching staff over the past 12 months and a catch success rate of just 66.7% follows similar figures in the previous series against Australia and South Africa. England's catch success rate in ODI's since the start of the 2012 season is only a fraction above their performance in this series at 67.03% over that period. This equates to 30 dropped chances in the 16 matches they have played.
Whilst the catching is the area of greatest concern for England fans they were also below the global benchmarks for both diving stops and throws at the stumps. Whilst the comprehensive nature of India's victories in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ODI's suggests that even had England fielded as well, or better, than the home side they would still have lost the series it is still an area that needs significant improvement especially when you consider the fact that England's 11 dropped catches equates to 11 wickets they didn't take.
Whilst India's vastly better fielding performance is something of a surprise it does suggest that the criticism levelled at them over the past 12 months has made an impression on the selectors. Whilst one series cannot be used in isolation as proof of a change in attitude amongst the India side it certainly is a step in the right direction.
England however continue to let themselves down in the fielding department and given that it is something that has persisted over several series suggests that they need to reassess their approach to that aspect of the game.