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Rhodes ensures Kenya are fit for the World Cup fray

cricket Updated: Feb 19, 2011 21:21 IST

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Fielding guru Jonty Rhodes understands the batting or bowling limitations of an emerging team but he finds it completely inexcusable if they lack in fielding or fitness.

During the course of his 11-year one-day career, the South African revolutionised fielding and one of the enduring images of the 1992 World Cup was of an airborne Rhodes flying into the stumps with the ball in hand to run out Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq in Brisbane.

Enjoying his stint as Kenya's fielding coach, Rhodes said there was no reason why the associate teams could not match the traditional powerhouses when it comes to fielding in the World Cup.

"I made my debut in 1992 and in that World Cup Kepler Wessels was the captain of the team," 41-year-old Rhodes told reporters at the M A Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday, on the eve of Kenya's World Cup Group A match against New Zealand.

"We had guys ... with no international experience whatsoever. We identified two departments we could be the best in the world -- best fielding team and the fittest team," said Rhodes, who took 105 catches, including some gravity-defying ones at backward point, in 245 one-day internationals.

"That has been the same approach the ICC has been working on with the associate teams to make sure those two areas are non-negotiable.

"It does not require you to play test cricket. The guys who play less cricket can still be sharp."

Rhodes expects the Kenyans to vindicate this opinion.

"As regards to best fielders, you'll see a couple of them tomorrow from both sides.

"New Zealand are renowned for putting in great work on the field and the Kenyan blokes have certainly shown to me that they are not scared of anything coming their way.

"These guys are fit and are natural athletes. The fielding department is something I did not have to work too hard on, it was already there.

"Fielding is an important part of 50-overs cricket and with so many evenly balanced teams here this year, the side that puts in a great effort in the field will be the team that would go to the knockout stage, to the final," he predicted.

Rhodes also offered an explanation for the relatively sloppy fielding of the subcontinental teams, compared to that of Australia, South Africa or England.

"I think the only difference in India and the subcontinent is after 40 overs, you get sweaty and it's pretty humid. It's tough to maintain intensity in the field, especially when a partnership gets going against you.

"It's not difference in the skill levels, just a matter of maintaining the intensity throughout the 50 overs."