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IPL 2014: Mumbai Indians fielding coach Jonty Rhodes talks his trade

Jonty Rhodes will look for another successful stint as fielding coach of the MI © Getty Images
Jonty Rhodes will look for another successful stint as fielding coach of the MI © Getty Images

Apr 15, 2014

Mumbai Indians’ (MI) fielding coach  in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Jonty Rhodes, says that fielding standards in modern day cricket have changed drastically. The former South African cricketer added that coaching the cricketers for Test cricket is the toughest.

In an interview with iplt20.com, Rhodes spoke about how the rise in fielding standards has affected his role as a fielding coach. “In these times the players cannot hide in the field and so you need all your players to be good fielders. The expectation of the captain becomes high and hence a fielding coach’s job becomes more challenging. On the other hand, you also have guys with great abilities who are prepared to dive round and throw themselves to the ball, which wasn’t the case in the past. It makes all the matches and all the fielding sessions more exciting.”

When asked about the practical details of fielding techniques, Rhodes said, “For me, everything about your fielding starts with the feet. People talk about good hands and hand-eye coordination but If you are in a bad position to take a catch, it’s your feet that will get you to the right place. So, when I have a one-on-one session with a player, I observe his body position and feet movement and make technical enhancements there.

Rhodes went on to talk about his own  flawed technique. “I… had a faulty throwing technique and that’s why I used to throw myself at the stumps because I wasn’t very confident of getting a direct hit. I wish I had a fielding coach to help me improve that aspect,” he said.

Rhodes then spoke about which format was the most challenging to coach a fielder for. “Test cricket! No doubt about it. Sometimes, the whole team has to sit in the dressing room for two days as your batsmen go on and on. At other times, it gets tiring spending hours in the field and the energy levels dip. In the T20 format, I can pep the boys up by telling them, ‘Come on! It’s only 120 balls’ but motivating them to field for five hours straight can be difficult. However, having said that, I imagine my basic preparation for the team would remain the same,” he said.

Talking about how confidence plays a big role in fielding, Rhodes said, “Like it does in batting and bowling, confidence plays a big part in fielding. For instance, Yuvraj Singh is one of India’s greatest fielders but during the recent World Twenty20, he struggled to take his catches. That’s because he was out of form with the bat and hence low on confidence.”

Rhodes concluded by speaking about Indian fielders. He said, “You see the current Indian team and it is full of brilliant fielders, not afraid to dive around… I did a bit of commentary during the recent Under-19 World Cup and I was amazed to see the standard of fielding. Good fielding is no more just the monopoly of countries like Australia or South Africa. It has become an integral part of most cricket teams. Also in IPL, if you see some of the greatest catches taken, it will not feature only the international players. A number of young Indian domestic players have pulled off stunners, and that excites me.”

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