Unless you’ve been living under a stone you will have seen Ben Stokes’s stunning catch at the Oval last week vs South Africa and you’ll continue to see it on the highlights reel of this World Cup. Simply put it was special. In this article I want to explore the steps it took for Stokes to be able to take ‘that’ catch.
In his own words he panicked as he was a little out of position, but he had the presence of mind not to panic before performing that magic moment. His athleticism is very high, he trains hard like all modern cricketers. Stokes is a tall man with big hands and in this situation that helps him as he’s able to counter jump backwards whilst maintaining eyes on the ball and he also knew to take it with his inside arm as it would give him more reach, but what’s stopping men or women, boys or girls, county or Saturday club cricketers from taking a very similar catch in the future.
I played cricket on Saturday and during our fielding warm-up one of my teammates asked me to hit him a high catch so he could take a catch like Stokes had done. I thought yeah that would be funny to watch but I also feared he’d leap high and bust a finger or land in a crumpled mess, dislocate his hip and we’d have to play with ten players! Ben Stokes (and others who have taken ‘worldie’ catches) don’t just ask the coach to hit a few so they can practice those type of catches. He will have spent hours a week since he was at school on basic catching techniques, the ‘boring’ stuff and got good and confident at those. The type of catches that you don’t drop. Of course, there will be times when they test themselves in training but that comes after thousands upon thousands of easier takes.
Ben Stokes doesn’t drop many catches as he’s very confident, he knows he’s done everything in training and in the warm-up before he enters the field. His concentration is very high therefore he’s totally prepared to take the routine catches during a match. As a result of this he’s also prepared for the magical catch. What I’ll say to anybody trying to emulate Stokes’s feat is that sure you may take 1 in 100 attempts at it but unless you’ve done all the practice don’t be too disappointed if you can’t do it in the vital moment during a game.
A Leading Edge is a series of educational cricket books written and illustrated by Patrick Latham and Wesley Durston. Their first book, ‘A Leading Edge for Captains’ written for younger captains looking to find out more about leadership and captaincy is available on Amazon as well as in a range of independent bookshops around the UK. ‘A Leading Edge for Bowlers’ is due for release later in 2019.