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Shirin Sadikot in Chennai 26 April 2013 - 01:33am IST

Suresh Raina is our fielding leader: Rixon

Says teams can’t afford to carry bad fielders as ‘passengers’

The Chennai Super Kings registered yet another thrilling win at home, chasing 160 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. While major contribution to CSK’s win came from MS Dhoni (67 off 37) and Michael Hussey (45 off 26) there were a few events on the field that really changed the game in their favour early on.

First, Murali Vijay took a stunning diving catch at mid-on to get rid of Quinton de Kock in the first over and then Suresh Raina pounced on the ball at covers and affected a direct-hit to send the in-form Hanuma Vihari packing in the third over.

While Shikhar Dhawan steadied SRH’s boat, the two early wickets ensured CSK’s target remained in gettable limits. With the likes of Raina, Michael Hussey Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, CSK are emerging as one of best fielding sides this IPL. What brings out the best in the CSK fielders is that they enjoy the work.

After CSK’s five-wicket win, iplt20.com caught up with their fielding coach, Steve Rixon to talk about the team’s improved standards in the field. Here’s what he said

Alongside batting and bowling CSK is turning out to be one of the best fielding teams in the tournament as well. That must please you to no end.

It does. The fielding was a bit disappointing in the last game and we had a discussion about that. We’ve been up and down with our fielding so far but right now I have to say that we have started to get our consistency back and have started to produce special things in the field.

The first two Sunrisers wickets were created by the fielders – Vijay’s catch and Raina’s direct hit. Is fielding as important as an extra bowler in the team?

It is. Fielding is as crucial as the performance of a part-time bowler. It is the only guaranteed thing in the game. You know that you are going to be in the field for 20 overs. You don’t know whether you’re going to bat for one or 20 balls or how many overs you’re going to bowl. Today the way MS Dhoni got going, had his catch been taken (by Amit Mishra who dropped Dhoni on 0) it might have been a different game.

Does the importance and impact of fielding rise by several notches in the T20 format?

It does, there’s no doubt about it. We can’t afford to have passengers in the side these days that don’t field well. You can’t hide in this game and sometimes, fielding may be the only thing that you do in the whole game. It could be a match-winning save, a catch that Vijay took or the direct-hit by Raina. It’s important that you do that one-off thing really well.

At 37 Michael Hussey is still one of the best fielders going around. How much of a mentoring role does he play?

He does it through leading by an example. He makes fielding look very easy. In everything he does on the cricket field he is a perfect professional and that’s not by accident. He trains harder than the rest of the guys. It’s not easy but he works hard to get the job done.

Is Hussey the fielding captain of the team or is it someone younger like Suresh Raina?

I’m getting Suresh to be that man. Michael, if he can just do what he is doing, we know he’s going to be one of our best fielders along with what he does with the bat. If we leave him to do just that I think we’re going to get good results. Raina likes the responsibility and he likes to feel like he’s in the game all the time. So, I’d like him to be our number one fielder and the leader in that area.

As a fielding coach, are you high on technique?

Technique is the name of the game. You don’t become a good fielder unless you’ve got a good technique. You can have all the energy and the right attitude but if your technique is not good, you’re not going to field well. Most of these guys are right up there with their technique but there are some who need that little bit extra. My job is to ensure that those guys reach the top level as well.

Is it tough as a coach to adapt to different fielding styles and techniques with players from different countries?

There’s no difference. Yes, there are two catching techniques – fingers up and fingers down – but outside of that, it’s all about how you watch the ball all the way into your hands and take it. There’s no real difference in the way things are done in that area. I don’t have a problem in adjusting in any country or to players.

Do you enjoy watching Dwayne Bravo in the field? He always seems to be enjoying being out there.

He’s a very charismatic guy, Dwayne Bravo. The energy he shows through a little piece of fielding, catching or the dance moves he does, it makes us a very vibrant team. He’s very handy to have in the side for that reason alone.

Do you get involved with MS Dhoni in brushing up his keeping skills?

With him I do nothing. Mr. Dhoni is his own man and he does his own thing. Because he plays so much cricket he doesn’t do too much technical work at all. MS is MS and thank God that he is. He has got very quick hands.

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