Jonty willing to become Indian fielding coach

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes, who redefined the meaning of fielding in modern-day cricket, on Thursday said he would not hesitate to become a fielding coach of the Indian team if he gets such an offer.

Rhodes said he was impressed with the fielding of some of the Indians but would like to take up the challenge of "turning non-athletes into athletes".

"It'll be a perfect marriage as I love fielding and being in India. I will be happy to be here and impart some of the fielding wisdom I got in South Africa. It's great to convert non-athletes into athletes," the 37-year-old former cricketer said after unveiling the designer trophy, which would be presented to the ICC Cricketer of the Year next week.

Rhodes said there were some athletic fielders in the side like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif who can inspire young players to take up the job seriously.

"Both Yuvraj (Singh) and (Mohammad) Kaif are fantastic fielders. (Sachin) Tendulkar is also superb in the deep. They are role models and whatever they do on the field inspires youngsters."

Rhodes, who considers himself lucky to have been part of the South African cricket team, said his side had produced several great fielders since it had always put emphasis on saving every run.

"Our philosophy has always been that even a single run can make the difference between winning and losing. We crashed out of the 1999 and 2003 World Cup by just one run. So the philosophy is simple, save as much runs as possible on the field."

Rhodes, arguably the best fielder in modern day cricket, also suggested ways on how a player can improve his fielding standards.

"The basic is that you have to love fielding and must like the ball to come to you every time the batsman plays it."

Talking on the Indian One-day team, Rhodes said the side has an awesome batting line-up which is backed by some fine young fast bowlers, but it lacks a genuine all-rounder.

"They have great batsmen and some very exciting young fast bowlers. But there is no genuine all-rounder after Kapil Dev. The side is a bit inconsistent but that's how it goes in One-day cricket."

Rhodes said it was difficult to predict who was going to win the upcoming Champions Trophy as the "format is quite exciting and the fortunes of a team could be changed in a span of just 10 overs".

"It's unlike other competitions as it follows an exciting format. Just a bad match and you are out. It needs consistency from teams. You can't say what is in store for teams like Australia, who had slow starts to the 1999 and 2003 World Cups before winning the title. You need to perform from the word go."

Rhodes, who announced his retirement from Test cricket in 2000 and from One-dayers in 2003, blamed "lack of match practice" for South Africa's series loss to Sri Lanka.

"We had non-stop cricket for nine months and then had a three months break. They appeared a bit rusty in their approach in Sri Lanka, where the pitches were also different from those back home. They also lacked match practice having come out of a big break."

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