Monthly Archives: April 2012

The art of the gully man – Ashley Mallet

That rare beast, an outstanding article on fielding.

The art of the gully man
Fielding at gully calls for its own set of skills
Ashley Mallett
April 16, 2012

Australia’s Jeff Thomson was the fastest bowler to draw breath, and fielding to Thommo in the gully was something else. With other fast bowlers, such as Dennis Lillee, you’d watch the bowler move in, and it was not until he released the ball that your gaze shifted from the bowler’s hand to the edge of the bat.

My method for most medium and fast bowlers was to watch the ball out of the hand, then go to the edge of the bat. But for Thommo it had to be different, because there was no time to do as you did with the others. With Thommo, you’d watch that approach until he loaded up. You knew that the ball would come at breakneck speed. Dear moderns, imagine the velocity if you can: about two yards quicker than Shoaib Akhtar at his absolute quickest. Often in the gully I’d catch a glimpse of a red sphere flash past my eyes on its way to Rodney Marsh behind the stumps: the ball rose like a 747, its climb stopped by Marsh’s gloves, making a sound that resounded like a solid right hook to the jaw from Muhammad Ali.