Jonty Rhodes heaps praise on South Africa's pace attack

Jonty Rhodes said South Africa domination of the Kiwis was on expected lines AFP

Mumbai: Mar 30, 2012

Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes feels that his country’s Test captain Graeme Smith must be very pleased with the presence of three-pronged pace attack in the team as all three bowlers are of different kind.

“I think South Africa have got a pretty good all-round attack and Graeme Smith, as a Test captain, must be pretty happy,” Rhodes told PTI here.

“It’s not just Dale Steyn. Morne Morkel bowls at speed and also gets good bounce with his height and there’s Vernon Philander…so there are three pacers who bowl very differently, which is often difficult to counter,” he added while responding to whether the Indian batsmen would find it tough to face this pace attack when they visit South Africa in 2013-14 season to play three Tests, seven ODIs and two T20s.

The 42-year-old, who represented his country in 52 Tests as a plucky middle-order batsman of outstanding fielding abilities at backward point, is currently here as the fielding coach of IPL franchise outfit — Mumbai Indians — to help them in season V of the Twenty20 league, starting on April 4.

Rhodes, who was following the Proteas’ tour of New Zealand, said their domination of the Kiwis was on expected lines.

“In South Africa it’s difficult to watch (the play) as the time zone difference is about ten hours, in India it’s only 8 hours. So I do catch the end of the Test cricket (day’s play). I watch them quite closely. And they are a strong team.

Everyone expected them to beat New Zealand as man for man they (SA) are a stronger side,” he said.

The former player also hailed the splendid display of new speedster Philander and said the reason for the bowler’s success was ‘he did not try to blast out the opposition but concentrated on bowling in the right places’.

“It’s great — fastest guy in 100-odd years to reach 50 Test wickets. I think what is good is he hasn’t made his debut at the age of 22,” said Rhodes, who retired after playing 245 ODIs for his country from 1992 to 2003

“He (Philander) knows exactly where to bowl. He does not get carried away, he knows what’s got him his success in Test cricket. He’s bowling in the good areas, he swings the ball, he seams it if there’s a little bit of movement (off the pitch) and I suppose he is very patient, without trying to blast the batsman out. That I suppose is the key to his success,” he added.

Philander (26) has grabbed 51 wickets in just seven Tests with as many as six five-wickets-in-an-innings hauls.

Rhodes, meanwhile, said that he was enjoying his stint with MI in the IPL and termed T20 format of the game as “sportainment”, a mixture of sport and entertainment.

“The best thing about IPL is it’s total entertainment, apart from providing great cricket skills. If people ask me where’s the best place to play cricket in South Africa, I would say Port Elizabeth. There’s a (music) band there, the crowd gets involved, they sing songs,” said Rhodes.

“The game’s changed. There’s Test cricket, there’s 50-over cricket. The 20-over cricket is about sportainment, entertainment and sport at the same time. That’s been the best for me.

“There’s great crowd participation, it’s exciting for everyone and it has brought in new viewers — ladies, families …that’s so important for the future growth of cricket,” he added.

Rhodes was guarded in his comments over reports that young West Indian off spinner Sunil Narine could prefer to play in the IPL than the Test series against Australia, and whether it was an indication of what is in store in future for cricket.

“I don’t know. It’s difficult to ask players not to play IPL. I never had that choice (in my playing days), so I can’t comment on it.”

If he prefers IPL over Tests, Narine, a non-contracted player, would be following the footsteps of former Windies captain Chris Gayle.

The hard-hitting Gayle has not played for the West Indies for more than a year following a dispute with the country’s cricket board. His last appearance was in 2011 World Cup match against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

The Jamaican has chosen to ply his trade as a big-hitting opener in T20 games around the world, including IPL, in which he is representing the Royal Challengers Bangalore since last season. (PTI)