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Expertspeak: Jonty Rhodes (MI fielding coach)

india Updated: Apr 25, 2013 00:32 IST
jonty rhodes

Fielding in the deep: Defending the boundary line is a technique which we (MI) practice by simulating match situations. It’s a skill. There are attributes that make you a good boundary fielder, but if you don’t have it, you can always work on it.

The guys on the boundary know where the rope is and they know if they can’t make the catch, they will try to keep the ball in. It’s not just about Pollard taking that catch to dismiss Dhoni. Sometimes, in the context of a game, a run saved here and there is important. I am just asking each of my fielders to save a run, and if that happens, we’ve saved 10 runs. And in a T20 game, that could make a lot of difference.

I’ve never fielded on the boundary but I practice with them now. Generally on the boundary line, you would have your faster fielders. But we also have some senior statesmen in our ranks and, anyway, you can’t have everybody who does 100m in 10 seconds fielding on the boundary line… Or guys who are 6’6”.

Also, you can only have four fielders outside the 30-yard circle. We also have guys who are quick. Rayudu has quick feet, Rohit Sharma is fast. Also, Ponting has done some boundary fielding and has still got a very strong arm. In Jaipur, where the boundaries are squarer making them difficult to defend, Mitchell Johnson effected a run out because he has a rocket arm.

Evolution of fielding techniques

Aussies perfected the art of team fielding — the nearest fielder will bring the ball to a stop and push it or hand it to his team-mate following him, who will then throw to the ’keeper. This proved vital because grounds in Australia in particular are huge.

Fielder on the fence, when he realises he can’t hold on to a catch without stepping across the boundary, either throws it up in the air and comes back to complete the catch, or throws it back to save vital runs, even if the batsman escapes getting out.

Acrobatic catching on the boundary line where fielders convert a certain six into dismissals by either jumping high or leaping to complete after creating a chance where it did not even appear to have existed.

South Africans realised the ball from the boundary travelled faster to the ’keeper on the bounce, and the stumper stood in front, rather than behind, the stumps, to gain that extra speed to effect run- outs.