This is an excerpt from Cricket: 99.94 Tips to Improve Your Game by Ken Davis & Neil Buszard.
Making Run-Outs Routine
With an ever-increasing focus on athletic fielding, you must specifically prepare to routinely make run-outs. With this in mind, we have designed and tested a drill that we think creates pressure and intensity similar to game situations. It also replicates match angles of attack and release.
The Infield Hustle
The infield hustle has the following scoring system that provides measurable feedback for players.
Players receive one point for an attack on the ball, one point for handling the ball cleanly, and three points for hitting the stumps or returning the ball within easy reach of the keeper or the bowler in the second phase of the drill.
Format of Drill
- Players are divided into groups of five or six.
- For the first seven minutes, players aim to hit the stumps.
- Replicating game shots, a batter hits the ball from a feeder.
- Fielders are positioned at point, cover, mid-off, square leg, midwicket, and mid-on. In other words, the infield is fairly standard. Essentially, fielders go to their normal positions, but flexibility is encouraged.
- Rapid movement is key. Players should squeeze as many attempts into seven minutes as possible. Spare balls must be available.
- A scorer records individual scores for each fielding attempt.
- After 7 minutes, 15 additional attempts are made. This time, a throw-over the stumps to the keeper or bowler is made. If the ball is dropped or thrown outside the easy-reach zone, no points are awarded.
- A wicketkeeper can be recruited. A player can also act as a keeper using a baseball glove. For these last 15 attempts, there can be two or three fielders on the off side and two on the leg side, depending on whether the wicketkeeper is from the fielding side or not.
At the end of the drill, all scores are added up and divided by the number of attempts completed in the time allotted. A reasonable target is around 60 attempts. As a rough guide at the club level, you should expect scores in excess of three to be achieved.
The value of this drill is that it is specific to the game. It can be repeated many times over as a measuring tool for infield improvement. Individual scores can also be maintained and compared, provided fielders are in the same position. The short session ensures that intensity is maintained. Coaches should make sure that fielding distances are the same so that comparisons between sessions are reliable.