Team India is adopting a unique approach to fielding practice ahead of the WTC Final by using multi-coloured rubber balls. These specially designed balls allow players to adjust to unexpected variations that could prove costly.
During a fielding drill at the Arundel ground, rising star Shubman Gill was seen catching green-coloured balls. Unlike the usual tennis balls used for reflex catches, these balls are made specifically for fielding drills. They are known as “reaction balls” and are used for fielding practice in countries like England and New Zealand, where factors such as breeze and colder conditions come into play.
According to a renowned fielding coach who has worked at the NCA and national camps, the green colour of the ball used for Gill’s practice may not have a specific scientific or cricketing reason. However, the use of these rubber balls for catching practice, particularly for slip fielders and keepers, serves a purpose.
In England, the presence of moisture and the lush green outer area beyond the pitch results in significant deviations for deliveries beating the batter’s outside edge. This makes it challenging to gather or catch the ball. The coach emphasized that England is the only country, along with New Zealand to some extent, where the Dukes ball wobbles even more.
The rubber “reaction balls” used in training are lighter in weight, causing them to wobble, swing, or deviate more. The objective is to help players adjust to the changing trajectory and line of the ball. The different colours of the balls serve a purpose as well. They aid in maintaining visibility and enable players to judge the line of deviation until the last moment when catching the ball.