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India’s fielding drills: Multi-coloured rubber ‘reaction balls’ to adjust to wicked deviation

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Portsmouth, June 3 (PTI): The Indian team’s training sessions over the years have had their share of innovations and it is now using multi-coloured rubber balls for catching practice in order to adjust to last-minute deviations which could cost the side dear.

One of the Indian team’s fielding drills at the Arundel ground here saw rising star Shubman Gill taking catches with the colour of the ball being green.

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There were also yellow coloured balls but not the lawn tennis balls one usually gets to see when keepers and close-in fielders take powerfully hit reflex catches.

“These are specially made rubber balls, not the ones we are used to seeing in gully cricket. This is made for fielding drills. These balls are named ‘reaction balls’ and it is used for fielding drills only in some specific countries, mainly England or New Zealand where breeze and colder conditions become a factor,” a renowned fielding coach, who has worked at NCA and at national camps, told PTI. Asked if there was any significance for the green coloured balls that was used to give catching practice to Gill, he said: “I don’t think there is any specific scientific or cricketing reason for any specific colour. But certainly there is a reason for using that kind of rubber balls for catching practice — especially for slip fielders and keepers.”

“In England, due to underlying moisture and the lush green outer area (beyond 22 yards) means that the ball will wobble a lot more than usual.

“England is the only country and to some extent in New Zealand, you will find that deliveries that beat the batter’s outside edge is deviating wickedly, making it difficult to gather or catch the ball. The Dukes in England in fact wobbles even more,” the coach added.

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He then explained why these rubber “reaction balls” are being used for training.

“These balls are lighter in weight and hence it would wobble and also swing or deviate more. The idea is to get adjusted to this changing trajectory or line of the ball.

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