Jonathan Neil “Jonty” Rhodes (born 27 July 1969) is possibly the best fielder in the history of cricket. He as we all know played for the South African cricket team between 1992 and 2003.
In cricket good, rather brilliant fielding is synonymous with Jonty. He is probably the only cricketer who is not remembered for his batting or bowling but for his fielding which is still possibly considered a secondary skill as compared to the other two.
True to his reputation, on 14 November 1993, he created a world record in fielding which has stood unabashed for the last 20 years. South Africa were playing West Indies in the Hero Cup at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai on that day when Rhodes became the first non wicket keeping fielder ever to take 5 catches in an innings. Each one was a treat to watch.
And who will forget that memorable run-out of SACHIN TENDULKAR which was the first one to go to the first time THIRD UMPIRE . Jonty Rhodes was fielding at point and SACHIN TENDULKAR ran with the ball around him. With in no time Jonty picked it up, returned it to keeper and decision was so close, it had to be referred and Tendulkar became the first cricketer ever to be ran out using a third umpire.
SACHIN TENDULKAR also had a lot of praise about Rhodes in his autobiography ”Playing It My Way”.
Sachin Tendulkar said – ”It was my first taste of Jonty Rhodes’s fielding prowess. Jonty was undoubtedly the best fielder I played against. His anticipation and the reactions were the quickest I have encountered and he managed to dry up all singles around point, cover point and towards third man. Jonty manned the entire area on the offside with amazing speed , he saved lot of runs and made significant difference in every match. The other thing about Jonty was his running between the wickets”
Rhodes was one of the few chief architects who showed the importance of fielding in cricket. He started a revolution which saw prodigies like Gibbs, Ponting, Yuvraj and in today’s day and age Kohli and others show on field. While earlier, lazy players could afford to stay in their teams on the back of their batting or bowling skills , the era after Rhodes changed that notion drastically. Now the players were expected to excel on the field too as saving those few runs became crucial in modern day cricket.
If there was ever a cricketer who was close to flying in the air, it was none other than the great JONTY RHODES. Happy Birthday Jonty.