Rhodes agrees to two-week stint with Pakistan

Published: Tuesday, April 25, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Dubai:Pakistan finally managed to rope in Jonty Rhodes as their fielding consultant even though the former Test player from South Africa agreed only for a two-week stint with the team ahead of their England tour.

Gulf News quoted Rhodes, who is here to conduct a cricket clinic for young children, as saying, ''I will be assisting Pakistan for only two weeks before their England tour.'' Arguably the best fielder the game has ever seen, Rhodes admitted he was responding to an invitation from his former coach Bob Woolmer, now in charge of Pakistan.

''I have been invited by Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. I would be going for two weeks before the Pakistan team's tour to England, mainly to help them improve their fielding.'' Even though a number of former players criticised the Pakistan Cricket Board's move to rope in Rhodes to improve their notoriously sloppy fielding, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan insists the move would pay off once Rhodes meets the senior players, Pakistan 'A' team and the wards at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

PCB wants Rhodes to join the camp next month after the board announces the names of 25 probables for the England tour.

Rhodes, who has recently opened an academy in Durban, underlined the importance of fielding and how it changes the outcome of a match and was also happy that the players are more fitness conscious these days.

''I am happy that every team is now focusing on improving their fielding. When South Africa went to Australia last year, they dropped 11 catches while Australians dropped just one. Australia beat us 2-0 in the series. If we had held those catches, the story would have been different,'' he recalled.

Rhodes also felt that India, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand are evenly matched but Australia remains a clear favourite for next year's World Cup not only because of their bowling and batting, but also for their superior fielding.

''Australians are the favourites to win the next World Cup not because they are good with the bat and the ball but because they are good on the field too. Pakistan, India, South Africa and New Zealand are all evenly matched. It is their fielding that will make the difference,'' he said.

''Personally, I would love to back South Africa winning the World Cup. They recently chased 434 to beat Australia. I believe that a team which can do that can also go on to achieve anything,'' he added.

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