x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Five of the best - or most freakish - short leg cricket catches

After Marnus Labuschagne's freak catch to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez in the second Test in Abu Dhabi, we look at five other sensational grabs

Marnus Labuschagne, wearing the helmet, celebrates the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan during day one of the Second Test match between Australia and Pakistan at Zayed Cricket Stadium. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Marnus Labuschagne, wearing the helmet, celebrates the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan during day one of the Second Test match between Australia and Pakistan at Zayed Cricket Stadium. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Short leg. It's the toughest fielding position in cricket.

If one was advertising the job on a classifieds page the prerequisites would list:

  • Cat-like reflexes
  • Nerves of steel
  • Willingness to bruise like a peach
  • Juggling
  • Above all, luck

It's little wonder no established cricketer wants to go under the helmet to field as close as two metres off the batsman's pads. The task is usually given to a Test newbie such as Marnus Labuschagne, the Australian all-rounder, who was placed there in the second Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

The position has not really been in vogue for some time, mainly due to outswing bowling being the more conventional method of fast bowling.

Labuschagne's catch, taking opener Mohammed Hafeez off the bowling of express left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc, ticked all of the boxes.

Hafeez clipped an inswinger off his pads. The ball bounced into Labuschagne's inner left thigh. It then bounced off his right knee as the crouching fielder folded towards the ground. The ball bounced off his calf. He managed to scoop the ball with his right hand and trap it between his legs as he fell backwards. Just take a look:

Here's a look at five others:

Jonathan Trott's lucky pocket

The Warwickshire and England great usually defied opponents with his long innings. Turning away from a slog sweep in a county game at Edgbaston, the ball rocketed into his right trouser pocket. Within the rules according to the MCC laws of the game.

DC Boon, short-leg extraordinaire

The tough, nuggety Australian batsman was built for the job. He pouched a number of memorable catches at the position during his Test career in the late 80s and early 90s. The best of them all was when he caught the Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, off the bowling of Craig McDermott. Azharuddin was trying to steer the ball into the leg side. Boon stuck out his left hand, the ball bobbled over his head and he grabbed it with his left hand.

Fast reactions

Sometimes they just stick. Here's Queensland cricketer Trevor Barsby's one-handed screamer to catch Ryan Campbell in a Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia.

Bouncing body parts

John 'Creepy' Crawley was a bit of an unlucky Test cricketer for England. In the 1997 Ashes series he got out in a couple of unusual manners. At Leeds, with his batting place on the line, Crawley flicked Jason Gillespie off his legs. Greg Blewett stuck his foot out and the ball bounced off his toes and popped into his hands.

James Taylor

As mentioned, short-leg is not a position one volunteers to fill. James Taylor was an exception. In his short career, sadly curtailed by a heart condition, the England player snaffled a couple of South African wickets with incredible reactionary takes. Not much luck involved.

For those, willing, able and a little mad. Here's some pointers to the fielding position.