Jonty Rhodes: The Man Who Made Fielding an Art!
“A wicket-keeper might be lucky enough to receive three or four “regulation” catches in the course of an innings, but any more than that will inevitably include a couple of classic grabs. For an outfielder to take five catches in an innings involves a skill so special.”
Somewhere around the start of the 90s, a first class match was being played in South Africa. It was just another match, where a group of players was trying to get some recognition. A young boy then came on the field as a substitute and picked up 7 catches. It was such an impressive performance that he got the man-of-the-match award, an act that was never seen before in the history of cricket.
A couple of years later Pakistan and South Africa were playing against each other in the 1992 World Cup at Brisbane Cricket Ground. A ball lobbed off Inzamam-ul-Haq’s pads and went towards point. He took a few strides forward thinking of a single, but saw a fielder coming in from point so quickly tried to make it back but even quick wasn’t enough that day. That same fielder, who picked up those 7 catches a few years ago, ran like a hare from point and put in a full-length dive to shatter the woodwork.
Next day the headline of a newspaper read ‘Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Jonty!” That day media got another star, aspiring cricketers got another idol, that day the world got Jonty Rhodes and fielding was never the same again.
About the Art!
Jonty Rhodes is widely regarded as the best fielder to have graced a cricket field and rightly so. He produced so many moments of magic that it is hard to point out at one performance as his best.
However, it was his performance against West Indies in the 1993 Hero Cup match that earned him global recognition. After scoring 40 runs while batting, he picked up 5 catches in West Indies’ innings. It looked like he had every inch of the ground covered that night. He got the man-of-the-match of award for his fielding and became the first non- keeping player to take those many catches in an international match.
He scored 2532 runs at an average of little over 35 from 52 Test matches before retiring in 2000. He continued playing ODI cricket till 2003 and scored 5935 runs from 245 matches at an average of 35.11.
The Love for India!
The Protea made some headlines when he named his daughter India Jeanne Rhodes in 2015, but a very few people know that he always held a special place for the country in his heart and was equally loved by the fans in the sub-continent.
He was named the brand ambassador of Surf Excel, country’s leading brand in this country, simply for his celebrity status as a fielder. He even performed a ‘Havan’ for his daughter in Pejawar Mutt in Santa Cruz, Mumbai and dressed up in a traditional avatar.
Interestingly, he made his Test debut in India in 1992 and is the current fielding coach of IPL side, Mumbai Indians.
How He Changed the Game ‘For Ever’!
The 90s kid can very well understand this, remember when we were young! The only prestigious job in cricket was considered to be batting. Those who were good with the bat, used to bowl in the other innings as well, and the kids who were not up to the mark were left to do the lowliest job, fielding. Their role was to retrieve the ball after the batsman had hit it. You could find such kids from Streets to academies. Well, Jonty Rhodes changed that!
Fielding was no more a burden; it became an art!
CrickGeek bows down to the Master of Art!