Textbook Guide - Sub fielder etiquette
At some point in your 'career' you'll no doubt be required to field for the opposition (we're strictly talking cricket here). It will likely happen in your junior days, either as a colt or as a club newbie, as not only are you the easiest person to ask (you're unlikely to refuse) but there's a good chance you will also be the weakest fielder on the team. As the years go by and your value in the field declines the chances of being called upon lessen, but it can still happen at some stage.
When it dawns on you that you are actually about to play for the oppo the call to action simply fills you with dread. For the more loyal amongst us it's down to the feeling of guilt, which, juxtaposed with honesty, causes serious moral dilemmas. For the majority of us it's more about having to get up and do more bloody work just when you thought you'd done your fielding for the day.
If only there was some advice available on how to be a sub fielder...
Just looking competent
When being a substitute fielder the only thing that can be expected of you is simple competence. Nothing showy. No one is expecting Jonty Rhodes. No one needs nor rightfully expects to see diving about or bullet like throws over the stumps. All that is expected of you is a decent long barrier, safe hands and for you to be able to deal capably with the ball coming your way. In short, the basics are more than enough.
Similarly, don't go overboard. Standard fare is more than enough. We don't want diving, leaping, sliding or anything approaching a keenness to actually help the oppo rather than just do a job. Be conservative and remember the golden rule - grass stains show that you've gone too far.
Your throw can be accurate, if not a little gentler than it might be if you were fielding for your own team, but you can make every effort to get the ball over the stumps in clinical fashion, so long as you also make every effort to pick the wrong end. No one can complain if your technique was sound and your throw accurate, even if your decision-making was clearly flawed. If there are any quizzical looks you simply turn and talk to the umpire.
If they're straight and simple, you have to take them. Ironically, there's more pressure here than when playing for your own team. A drop then simply means that you fluffed it. A drop when sub-fielding simply looks like you spilled it on purpose.
You can get away with shelling chances in the deep as you can make them look legitimately difficult. When this occurs you are in the rare position of being allowed to hurl the ball back at the stumps wildly to show just how angry and disappointed you are with yourself. This will prevent any eyebrows from being raised or question asked. In fact, you might scare them enough by doing this that they won't want to question anything you do in the field again.
You'll never miss-field on purpose but if we're honest, it's likely to happen.
This is the only other occasion on which you are allowed to do the Wildman throw back to the stumps to hide your shame.
Never celebrate a wicket and never join the post-wicket huddle. Simply turn and talk to your umpire.
Time in action
Don't be a mug and hang about there all afternoon. Far too many people assume that being sub-fielder means that you have the job for the day. Treat it like an umpiring stint and look at ten overs as more than enough of a contribution. Then simply walk off as you would were you umpiring so that someone else is pressured in to having a turn.