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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Monday 6 April 2020
Did/Do you play cricket? Where did you enjoy fielding? cover? point? cover-point? C'mon, even if you were a liability in the field, who was hidden at third-man or fine leg, don't be shy, it is what it is!
Have you ever fielded at silly point or short leg or even slips? It feels like you're right in the thick of things, isn't it?
And, lest you forget, how about the sledging from close quarters. Barbs that were loud enough for the batsman to hear, but soft enough to escape the umpire's attention. What fun!
When you think of catching, Mark Waugh, Rahul Dravid, Jaques Kallis and Mahela Jayawardene were some of the very best.
Let's go for the vote. Jonty Rhodes would feature in the list of most and quite obviously. Rhodes made backward point his own. He was awe-striking at that position. Cue Inzamam's run out at the the 1992 World Cup.
In fact, such was Rhodes charisma that when Navjot Singh Sidhu made a return to international cricket as a much-improved fielder, he started being called Jonty Siddhu.
Most cricketers are remembered for their batting or bowling, but if there is one player who revolutionised the third discipline of the game, it was Jonty. Having played 52 Tests and 245 ODIs between 1992 and 2003, Rhodes scored nearly 8500 international runs at an average of just over 35 in both the formats. Interestingly, his fielding caught the admiration of the cricket world more than his batting exploits.
Fielding was not an element of the game that was even spoken about when I first started playing. The fact that I made an impact makes me happy. I was conscious of the fact that I was saving 15 or 20 runs on the field and people felt that it balanced out my lower average. But as a batsman, my first job was to score runs and I didn't do enough of that."
But to his advantage, he fielded at a particular position. His compatriot Gibbs, many feel, was quite an underrated fielder. And, he was as good fielding at any place in the park. Dropping a dolly in the 1999 World Cup against Australia though does not go well to hold his legacy of a gun fielder.
Speaking of the arm speed, Andrew Symonds is often not given enough credit for his rocket throws. In fact, Inzamam-ul-Haq, for all his slowness in the field, was a terrific catcher and had a great throw.
Among the current lot, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ben Stokes, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Martin Guptill and Shimron Hetmyer are some of the standouts.
Remember the direct hit from Pat Cummins to dismiss Cheteshwar Pujara on the last ball of the day of one of the Tests on India's last Test tour of Australia. Or Ben Stokes' magic leap in the World Cup against South Africa. Or more recently, Ravindra Jadeja's flying catch at square leg to dismiss Lockie Ferguson. Sensational stuff!
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