Former Pakistan fielding coach Steve Rixon has termed his stint with the Men in Green a successful one in an interview with ESPNCricinfo.
The Green Caps fielding has improved leaps and bounds in the past two years and a lot of it down to efforts made by Rixon, who was brought in by current Pakistan Head Coach Mickey Arthur in 2016.
The former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Rixon had an extensive experience of coaching top-quality fielding sides as he previously worked with the Baggy Greens and New Zealand, but the 64-year-old believes that his stint with Pakistan Cricket Team worked to great effect as the players embraced his ideas which made his job a whole lot easier.
“I’m probably the most relentless guy in world cricket. I need to get the job done,” he said. “I haven’t been in Pakistan for a long period of time, but I think I’ve done close to as well as I could do there. If I can’t get it done in one way, I have to come in from a different angle and try to get it done. But with these players, they caught on to what was going on and they actually embraced it and they enjoyed it.”
Rixon also pointed out the lack of attention paid to fielding at junior levels in Pakistan cricket which made it difficult to imbue the importance of this particular area in the players’ mentality.
“They were definitely well below par as a fielding unit, in fact, I was shocked at how far behind the eight ball they were,” he said. “Even at grade level in Sydney, our kids know how to field. As youngsters at the ages of six to ten, they’re always taught how to field. And for the Pakistan boys, it wasn’t ingrained into them at a young age. It was quite a job that had to be done.”
Rixon went on to mention how few good saves, especially in a T20 match, can impact the overall outcome of the match.
“We had to make everybody understand exactly what one misfield meant,” he said. “In a game of T20, in particular, you might only get three balls to come to you. And if you make three very good saves, you’re a long way in front, because you may not get a bat or bowl. But you’ve now contributed maybe eight or ten runs to the scoreboard by the efforts you’ve put in the field.”
Pakistan have inducted a flurry of agile youngsters in the side in the past couple of years which aided their improved fielding efforts, but Rixon believes that in order to get the maximum out of the fielding unit, it is of pivotal importance to place the fielders in their right positions.
“The other thing we introduced was making sure the most appropriate fielders were in the most appropriate positions – to have people in what we called ‘hot spots’ in the field,” he said. “So let’s say Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, or Babar Azam, any of those guys who were among the more agile of the younger group that we’ve got – I needed them to make a decision out on the ground to run to where the ball had a fair chance of going. So if you’re bowling the right lines, you’ve got a decent idea of what quarter of the ground it’s going to. They started to do that very well and understood why they were doing it and the importance of it.”
PCB’s contract with Rixon expired in June 2018 and Pakistan’s tour of Ireland, England and Scotland was his last assignment with the Men in Green.