stands about 22 yards from the batsman's wicket, in a line with the bowler's wicket, a few yards on the right-hand side. He naturally moves wider when the bowler bowls round the wicket.
Mid-on has to back-up the bowler when the batsman drives the ball straight down the pitch, and also when it is returned from the off-side fielders. Sometimes, when there is no short-leg and the ball has been played to third-man, mid-on is in a fix; for he cannot tell whether the fielder will throw to the wicket-keeper or the bowler, yet he himself is the only fielder in a position to back-up either of them so as to save a run if it passes one of them. The only thing for him to do is to watch third-man's actions closely and use his judgment. Some men have made a specialty of mid-on with marked success, notably Mr H. F. Boyle, the Australian.
As a rule, one of the weaker fielders in a team is drafted into this position. This is a mistake. Great skill and activity are required from short-leg if it is worth having one at all. On a wicket where an off-break bowler can get much work on the ball, it is sure to be frequently played towards short-leg. On a good wicket first-class bowlers rarely have a short-leg, because the man is required somewhere else, and they can trust themselves not to bowl so that the ball can be played away to leg. When the bowling is at all erratic, a great many runs can be saved by a short-leg. Low hits and sharp catches with plenty of spin on the ball fall to the fieldsman's lot here. He must chase snicks or placing strokes on both sides of himself, and has a grand opportunity of saving runs if he is thoroughly brisk and eager. Should there be no long-leg, he will have to attempt to stop the ball before it gets to the boundary, thus turning fours into threes; so he must be a good thrower and a long one. Many batsmen are weak in their leg play, being inclined to cock the ball up. Short-leg may often bring off a brilliant catch by edging up close to such a player.
He can also make himself useful by backing-up the wicket-keeper when the ball is returned from the off-side.
His position may vary from fine short-leg to forward short-leg; he may be almost long-stop or almost mid-on.