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The outfield is a sporting term used in cricket and baseball to refer to the area of the field of play further from the batsman or batter than the infield. The term is also used in football (soccer) as an adjective describing any position other than that of goalkeeper.
In cricket and baseballEdit
In both baseball and cricket, fielders in the outfield have more ground to cover, but also more time before the ball reaches them. Catches are most likely to arise from shots that have been 'skied' (in cricket) or 'popped up' (in baseball). If a catch is not possible (for example, the ball has bounced, or is rolling or skidding across the turf) the fielder will attempt to head off, pick up and throw in the ball as quickly as possible to reduce the distance the runners can run and hopefully to effect a run out (cricket) or tag out (baseball).
In cricket, where the ball is far more likely to stay low against the ground than in baseball, the condition of the turf has a major effect on the speed at which the ball travels through the outfield. On a slow outfield the ball decelerates significantly, making fielding easier and batting harder — in particular boundaries are far harder to hit. This usually occurs if the playing surface is uneven or if it is damp from rain or dew. However, on a fast outfield the ball does not decelerate significantly even when rolling along the turf, often racing past the fielders and over the boundary rope. In these circumstances, batsmen find it easier to score runs quickly. Commentators often refer to the ball accelerating to the boundary on fast outfields, but this only physically occurs on grounds with a slope and on which the ball is moving downhill.
In football (soccer)Edit
The term is used in soccer when, for instance, player availability becomes an issue (say, due a number of players being unable to play through injury and or prior substitution) given that at a high level of play, goalkeepers lack the necessary playing skills to play in the outfield and conversely outfield players lack the skill to play goalkeeper. Despite this however, in times of crisis, outfield players have been known to play goal, even at the professional level.