Catches win matches. This adage would have been going through the minds of India as they dropped catch after catch against England in the slips. It is evident that the slip catching problem has reached alarming proportions. Like the rest of the team the slip catching needs desperate improvement. It is no surprise that the slip cordon has come in for some stick from former players.
VVS Laxman, one of India's greatest slip-fielders, reckons not a lot of distance between the fielders has been one of the reasons for the dismal performance.
"Definitely, they are very close," the former India right-hander was quoted as saying by Deccan Herald.
A difference in the playing conditions between the subcontinent and England requires a slip fielder to perhaps stand behind more he also added.
"I was the one who used to take the gap between the first slip, second slip and the third slip. When we were playing in sub-continental conditions it was six steps, and the moment we used to play overseas it used to be seven or eight because in overseas conditions there is more bounce and more carry for the fast bowlers," he pointed out.
Laxman went onto add that the fact they stood too close to each other may have left them confused as well. On more than one occasion the English batsmen were granted a reprieve because the slip fielders or the wicket-keeper did not go for the catch. MS Dhoni and Shikhar Dhawan in the Lord's test failing to catch Gary Ballance as the ball went between them is an instance.
Confidence is of paramount importance in every facet of the game, slip fielding included, and because the Indian slip fielders are awfully short on confidence they are grassing chances regularly, according to Laxman.
Remaining consistent is the key and slip fielders getting used to their positions by being there for some time is doubly important, Laxman felt.
"It is about consistency and also it is important for Dhoni not to chop and change the fielders in the slip cordon. You have to have specialist players who are actually in that position," the former batsman said.
Specialists in the slip cordon is something that even former captain Sourav Ganguly batted for. He was of the opinion that three to four fieldsmen should be given the task of standing in the slips and they should be persisted with for some time.
"Let them know they will stand in the slips. They must practise doing different simulations. They must watch the ball from every possible angle. If India continues to drop slip catches, the bowling will suffer more," said Ganguly.
Kapil Dev attributed India's dismal showing in the slips to the lack of specialists as well.
"Jadeja, YuvrajSingh and even Virat Kohli are hyper, with a lot of body movement," Kapil Dev told India Today. "While fielding in the circle or in the outfield, their instinct is to rush and grab at the ball. This technique fails in the slips as you have to let the ball come softly into your hands."