CricketCountry’s Aayush Puthran caught up with the iconic South African on Sunday.
Excerpts from a brief interview:
CricketCountry (CC): When South Africa played India at Brabourne Stadium in 1993, you were awarded the Man of the Match for your fielding. How special was that award to you?
Jonty Rhodes (JR): It is wonderful to be recognised as a fielder. Many people ask me, “Aren’t you sad that no one talks about your batting?” But I’m happy that these guys are still talking something about me.
CC: You revolutionised fielding in the 1990s. But with the advent of T20 cricket, the overall fielding standards have improved tremendously. How do you view this trend?
JR: People talk about ‘catches win matches’. That was in Test cricket when maybe one catch would change a game. But with T20 cricket, one run can save a game or win a game for you.
When Munaf Patel joined Mumbai Indians everyone said, ‘Oh goodness! How are you going to get Munaf to field?’
All I asked him was to be the best he can be. ‘You don’t have to be a Jonty Rhodes, you don’t have to be a Virat Kohli. You can just be as good as Munaf Patel can be. Just make that one small effort me.’ That’s all he has done.
In T20 cricket there is no place to hide (poor fielders). Tillekratne Dilshan plays shots over his head. Batsmen are playing all sorts of funny shots. AB de Villiers plays the reverse shots. So the fast bowler can’t hide anywhere! Everybody has to contribute. That’s the key for me in T20.
CC: Who is your favourite fielder currently in international cricket?
JR: There are few guys who are entertaining. The overall standard of fielding has risen. It’s not just one or two good fielders in the team. I’m feel sad when AB de Villiers wears the wicket-keeping gloves because he is awesome on the field. I really enjoy watching Virat Kohli. I like watching him bat, unless he is playing against Mumbai Indians. Then, I don’t want to see him bat for long. He is amazing on the field. On the boundary, inside the ring… he is a great all-round fielder.
(While enjoying the small joys of life, rarely has anything mesmerised Aayush Puthran more than cricket. A student of Journalism in Mumbai, he is trying to figure out two things: ways to make Test cricket a commercial hot property and the best way to beat Mumbai traffic. He has a certain sense of obsession with novelty. He might seem confused, but he is just battling a thousand demons within his mind. Nonetheless, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of coffee!)