Not everyone can field in the slips, says Azhar

Mohammad Azharuddin, one of India’s greatest fielders, feels India’s lacklustre slip fielding on Thursday in Birmingham was simply a case of not practising enough.

Slip fieldsmen should take 50 to 60 catches every day, says Mohammed Azharuddin. File Photo: Getty Images

In recent years, slip fielding has been India's bane. It continued to be the case on day one of the first Test against England in Birmingham as Virat Kohli's men dropped two more catches. One of India's greatest fielders Mohammad Azharuddin felt it was simply a case of not practising enough.

“Slip fielding is a specialist's job. You can't get anybody and everybody to stand there. That's what is happening to the Indian team,” he said here on Thursday. “Players play a lot of T20s and ODIs now and slip hardly matters. But you should still practise and take 50 to 60 catches everyday. We need to identify players who are willing to do that.”

Read: Kohli slams maiden Test century in England

At his best, Azharuddin's was an economy of movement. Unlike the modern-day fielders, he rarely dived, but was still at the right place at the right time, with his technique, positioning and anticipation standing out.

‘Nothing comes easy’

“You first need to stand correctly,” said Azharuddin, after being unveiled as the Brand Ambassador of the Karnataka Premier League side Bijapur Bulls. “Fielders nowadays stand erect. Then you can't get to catches which fall at your feet. You should crouch. Then, even jumping up to catch the ball isn't tough.”

“When you field for spinners, your reactions and reflexes have to be good. Concentration is important. Slip fielders should also learn to adjust their positions according to where the wicketkeeper stands. Nothing comes easy. You need to keep practising.”

Also, the former India captain, one of a handful of Indians to have done well in England, agreed with Indian management's decision to leave out Cheteshwar Pujara. He said, “Pujara has generally struggled abroad and players have been picked on current form. Pujara went to England early but couldn't score runs. This is an golden chance for K. L. Rahul to cement his place. He has done well in patches but not consistently.”