Former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes is unquestionably one of the greatest fielders the game has ever produced. He engraved new definitions with his spine-tingling efforts in the outfield. His somersaulting run-outs and acrobatic catches have always galvanized fans across the globe. No one can forget the famous episode when the Proteas star ran Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq out during the 1992 World Cup with a full-stretched dive.
Now, the veteran player has picked his favourite fielders in international cricket while talking to one of India’s most exceptional fielder Suresh Raina on an Instagram live chat session. During the conversation, Jonty named the best ones by picking India’s Ravindra Jadeja, New Zealander Martin Guptill and South African AB de Villiers.
“I love to watch AB (de Villiers) batting or Fielding. (Martin) Guptill is there. Jaddu. Also, Michael Bevan, he had excellent speed. Also, Jaddu has great speed on the field,” said Jonty.
Jonty said that Jadeja is a special fielder as he is very committed towards his role.
“Jaddu has taken some fantastic catches. The key is he is very committed. He is very good at anticipating the ball also,” Jonty added.
For Raina, Jonty opined that the southpaw reminds him of himself. Jonty said he is well aware of the fact that fielding is not easy on Indian grounds, so he is a big admirer of Raina.
“You remind me of me. I know how hard fields are in India and I have always been a big fan (of you),” the 50-year-old added further.
Jonty also dropped his thoughts that the culture of fielding has changed a lot since the 90s when he made his debut. Jonty said that the players have realized that apart from batting and bowling, fielding is also a crucial aspect of the game.
“Fielding wasn’t a big part of the game then 1990s. The difference between then and now is that then every team had 1-2 good fielders… now fitness levels are different. Not just in the IPL or T20 cricket. If Virat Kohli is batting in Tests, you don’t want to give him two chances. He will bat and bat.”
“Fielding has changed not just because of me… maybe people became more aware. But players have now identified that it’s the third department of the game and not just batting and bowling. The athletic abilities of players have changed,” Jonty, who has played 245 ODIs and 52 Tests for South Africa, articulated.
When asked about the fittest cricketers of modern-day cricket, Jonty picked Indian captain Virat Kohli and Australia batting genius Steve Smith.
“Steve Smith stands out… although he does not look to be the fittest one around. You see the transformation of Virat Kohli. He was that chubby youngster earlier, and now he has realized if he has to be right up there, he has to be fit and eat right. Eating right is so important. So Virat Kohli is right up there,” the Pietermaritzburg-born concluded.