The days of aggressive fields in Test cricket has long gone, says Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Image courtesy of: The Wicket Post

Dhoni believes a wicket is more likely to fall is fielders are placed on the boundaries

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes that the use of aggressive fields during Test matches has long gone since players have become a lot more attacking in their approach and mentality, while the pitches nowadays are also much livelier than they used to be during the golden era of Test cricket.

Dhoni’s comments come after he was asked how 16 wickets fell during day three of the final Test against Australia in Delhi in March.

Responding to the question, Dhoni said: “Well, you’ll have to answer what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ because your opinion really counts … When four fast bowlers play, it becomes strategy, when three spinners or four spinners play, it becomes a bad wicket.”

Dhoni noted how other captains were also adopting a similar policy of posting fielders on the boundaries fairly early into a Test match.

“For Virender Sehwag, if you have a deep point and a deep-third man and a deep-square leg, it’s a strategy,” he said. “If MS Dhoni has a deep point and a deep-square leg for David Warner, it’s a defensive field set. You have to see the mindset [of the batsman] and accordingly go ahead.”

Many members of the cricketing community would remember the days when captains got their fielders to crowd around a batsman to make him feel under pressure and more susceptible to getting out, but according to Dhoni, those days now remain nothing more than a distant memory.

“The kind of cricket that we play has entirely changed … The era of seeing aggressive cricket, where you had to have a mid-on up, has gone,” he added.

Giving an example on how field placements have dramatically changed over the years, Dhoni spoke about the ideology behind his field placements during the Delhi Test.

“You have a short leg, a backward, and a slip,” he said. “And you have three fielders – deep midwicket, long-on and deep-square leg.

“You read the batsmen to see if he is in the mindset of rotating singles, if there’s a mid-on, deep midwicket and four catching fielders, and if he can rotate every ball. If he’s not having any problems, then you try to bring in the mid-on fielder or deep-midwicket fielder to build up the pressure.”

For Dhoni specifically, the aim of leaving fielders out in the deep is to limit the number of boundaries the opposition score, which he believes will ultimately put them under pressure to keep the scoreboard ticking at a healthy rate.

“If you rotate [the strike] four times, you get four runs and [on] those four runs, you can get them out as many times,” Dhoni added.

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