FRANKLY they come across like blokes who are skiving on the cricket field, loitering outside the off stump within earshot of a wicketkeeper who seems to be toiling while they clap in approval of decent deliveries and dispense wry humour.

The slip cordon, that is, who fans often pass off as fielders with no legs and those who can't throw to save themselves so a captain, short on patience, chucks them in the unpredictable stream of least expectations for fear of having them grass a valuable wicket with their butter fingers in the driving zones.

Perhaps a more plausible explanation may be that's where you're likely to find mostly the pretty boys - the top-order batsman who end up grooming eyes and hands with the precision and steadiness of surgeons, as they try to interpret the behaviour of deliveries on myriad pitches.

They also tend to conserve energy in that territory for occupying the batting crease later.


The chin wag that transpires between deliveries and overs provide opportune moments for some escapism from the high-octane regions of engagement.

Subjects of discussion can range from anything between what the latest brand of beer tastes like to what one thinks of Donald Trump's assertion that torture really works wonders.

In a serious vein, though, when the bowling is malevolent and the strip of prime real estate somewhat temperamental, it's the nimble hands of the slip merchants that tend to snaffle the prized wickets to dictate the tempo of a game.

Pay Excellence Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricketer GC Pretorius says the slip cordon isn't for everyone.

"I don't think other fielders will walk into the slip cordon easily," says Pretorius before they host Wairarapa in their two-day Hawke Cup match at Forest Gate Domain, Ongaonga, from today.

The reflexes of a mongoose, the willingness to succumb to gravity in the blink of an eye to soil one's whites and having the safest hands of a new-born baby's mother are vital prerequisites.

That's where those hands will have to come into play to secure 20 wickets that Bay coach Colin Schaw alludes to with the fervour of a pulpit-thumping lay preacher.

With Taranaki nipping at their heels of the top-placed hosts, winning should be a given but an outright one is imperative to guarantee the Bay's ticket to earn the right to demand a cup challenge in the supremacy of minor association cricket.


"Last summer we dropped only three catches for the entire season," he says, revealing in their last first-innings win over Taranaki at New Plymouth where the lush green background at Pukekura Park made it difficult to track the route of deliveries.

Forest Gate Domain is not a bad playground for the cordon although some trees do distract at the clubhouse end of the field that shares its outfield with the golf course but sight screens are godsend.

The small talk in between is often used to "get the boys buzzing and the right energy on the field".

"We talk about what the boys have done the previous night or in the next three or four nights what they are going to do," says Pretorius.

Almost always it centres around their most embarrassing moments pertaining to anything and, yes, interactions with females, in particular, tend to win hands down.

Angus Schaw, at first slip, and Matt Edmondson at second, tend to be the two jokers in the pack.

"I like to talk about Donald Trump and all the political stuff because I follow politics a lot," says the South Africa-born spinner.

Believe it or not, at the end of the day the slip snafflers have all the answers to solving the problems of the world.

No doubt, the job description demands profits like any other fielding position so the boys talk shop.

"It's mostly strategic stuff of where the batsmen is likely to play to get out," he says.

Wicketkeeper Scott Schaw and Pretorius are the serious ones and are quick to restore law and order when the cordon becomes too loose.

"I'm more responsible for shining the ball and trying to keep Scotty awake by having him just keep giving the ball to me.

"If the ball doesn't come to me for a few balls it's usually a mess so I have to sort it out again," says the bloke who spittle shines the cherry at third slip.

Pretorius says they are trying to encourage their wicketkeeper to emulate the feat of Pakistan counterpart Mohammad Rizwan who receives a ball behind the stumps and simply tosses it anywhere in the air to prompt a teammate to retrieve it.

HAWKE'S BAY: Jacob Smith (c), James Field, Matt Edmondson, Rupert Young, Bradley Schmulian, Angus Schaw, Indika Senarathne, Scott Schaw (wk), GC Pretorius, Liam Rukuwai, Charlie Robson, Jayden Lennox.

WAIRARAPA: Choi Jackson, Ethan Childs, Liam Burling, Brock Price, Robbie Speers, Gordon Reisima (c), Dean van Deventer, Paul Lyttle, Jack Forrester, Stefan Hook-Sporry, Quinn Childs, Jared Watt.