Kieron Pollard has redefined fielding around the boundary line. H Natarajan gives a frame-by-frame analysis of Pollard’s Riplesque catch to dismiss Kevon Cooper in the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL) game on Monday and shares a few more videos of Pollard’s believe-it-or-not catches to prove his point.
If one were to pick the defining moment when fielding, as it is understood in the modern era, underwent a serious mind shift, then it has to be the run-out of Inzamam-ul-Haq by Jonty Rhodes in the 1992 World Cup. The athleticism, foot speed and predatory reflexes that Rhodes brought to his craft made fielding an unalloyed joy.
Rhodes was worth his place in the eleven on his fielding merits alone; he could save about 30-35 runs in an average innings. But it’s hard to guess how many he saved by merely sowing the fear factor in batsmen’s mind. A large area to Rhodes, left, right, front, back and above were high-risk areas for the batsmen because of the South Africa’s incredible feline instincts to intercept the ball.
Rhodes was the catalyst to the fielding that is seen across the world now. Fast bowlers expend lot more energy in plying their trade, but unlike in the bygone when they recouped in the boundary, some of the modern fast bowlers are as good as the best fielders on the field. Kapil Dev was a classic example. But in the era of T20 where every run counts, fast bowlers have upgraded their skills to the demands of the modern era. And none exemplifies that better than Kieron Pollard.
Pollard is a hulk: six feet, five inches tall and weighing 220 pounds. But for a man that big, he is a marvel on the field. Some of the catches that he has taken, like the one he took to dismiss, Kevon Cooper in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 game against Rajasthan Royals on Monday, are beyond the comprehension of most, leave alone taking it. It was a catch where he got full marks for anticipation, alacrity and agility and, of course, brilliant thinking on his feet. If one were to see just the final frame, it would appear as if Pollard had taken a low catch at slip or gully. But that catch was on the fence, the finale to a sensational prelude.
Let us go frame by frame:
This was the first attempt by Kieron Pollard leaping in the air with right hand outstretched managing to catch the ball.
Photo 1: That ball would have been a six on nine out of 10 occasions. But given Pollard’s towering height, high leap and remarkable presence of mind, it was a different story. Pollard is captured here in anti-gravity mode, both feet high above the ground, body arched and the right hand just about intercepting the velocity of the ball. Quite clearly he is stretching himself to his physical limits.
The moment where Kieron Pollard realises he is too close to the boundary line.
Photo 2: Looking at the second photo, anybody who did not know the final outcome, would say that Pollard would have hurtled his big body with the ball because ofthe imbalance, the momentum and the awkwardness of the leap. Pollard is seen here grasping the ball with his right hand and battling to save himself from toppling over as he is looking at the danger below.
Pollard ensures that he lands his left feet well inside the boundary line.
Photo 3: A major portion of Pollard’s body has crossed the rope. But most a miniscule part of his left leg is off the danger mark!
Pollard tosses the ball up in the air while he crosses over the boundary line.
Photo 4: Pollard is unable to check the momentum from taking him over the line. But his incredible presence of mind has seen him get airborne and throw the ball behind in the nick of time.
Pollard readies himself to take another go at the catch.
Photo 5: Pollard is seen here on the other side of the boundary. His head position gives an indication of how high he has thrown the ball.
A stunning dive to pluck the catch with left hand. To remind, Pollard is a right-hander.
Photo 6: This photo clearly shows Pollard had thrown the ball a bit too further away than he would have liked. But the athletic West Indian covered lot of ground, stretched himself fully forward and just got his fingers to clasp the ball!
Pollard completes the stunning catch
Magic! The final act shows Pollard complete a miraculous left-handed catch!
If you thought that was a fluke, think again! Watch this effort by Pollard to dismiss Glenn Maxwell in a One-Day International against Australia at Manuka Oval, Canberra, in February 2013.
If you are still not convinced, how about this?
It would not be wrong to say, that if Eknath Solkar manufactured catches at short-leg, then Pollard does the same around the fence. What a fielder!
(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/H.Natarajan and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/hnatarajan)