‘Catches win matches’. I have seen one brilliant catch turning the entire complexion of a game on many an occasion during my long career. One bit of extra effort on the part of the fielders can spur the team on to better and tidier fielding, and that means scoring runs becomes more difficult for the batsman. On the other hand, a dropped catch gives the batsman an extra innings. This lapse may turn out very expensive for the fielding side. Look at what happened in the one-day series between India and South Africa, when Lance Klusener dropped a simple catch offered at mid off by Robin Singh when India required three to win off the last three balls. The Proteas lost the game and with it the series!
You will learn with experience that different types of catches come in different positions on the field. For example, the ball travels to slip and gully in one way, but in quite another way to point or to mid on or to fine leg. We shall discuss this later, but here it would suffice to know that your catching ability depends entirely on judgement and ball sense, and that this can be gained through practice. Just remember that you have to focus on the batsman in the match, and the hitter during practice, to develop these and to judge the flight of the ball early.
Beginners have to be careful while practicing with the leather ball, because unless you have developed your catching skills you may hurt yourself. This is true even for experienced cricketers who have had a long lay-off. They then have to relearn their catching skills. The best way to get rid of the fear of injuries is to practice catching with a tennis ball. After the confidence and skill of catching is learnt, you can easily move on to catching with the regular leather ball.
A catch well taken is the ball that is judged early in its flight.
Eyes always on the ball. You can’t afford to miss the flight of the ball even for a split-second.
Always keep both hands in readiness for the catch. Arms should be relaxed and extended towards the ball, which is then received it with ‘soft hands’.
The wicket keeper should keep his elbows bent to absorb the force of the throw and it helps to have soft hands.
While catching, never point your fingers and thumbs at the oncoming ball, you could hurt yourself .
Always watch the ball till it is safely in your hands and then cup it with your fingers and squeeze it.