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India need to find good seamers

india Updated: May 05, 2013 01:46 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times

For someone who votes the small, windy St George's Park in Port Elizabeth as his favourite cricket ground in South Africa because they have a band which creates "an amazing atmosphere", it is easy to understand why Jonty Rhodes missed being part of the first edition of this T20 competition.

In this interview, Rhodes, the Mumbai Indians fielding coach since 2009, shows acrobatics is still very much part of his scene by talking about the future and looking at the past without ever seeming detached from the present. Excerpts:

How do you look at SA’s series against India later this year?
There's a lot of cricket before that and I think (MS) Dhoni would try and get together a team that knows each other. The key to South Africa's Test success is that barring injury, it is the same 11 guys. Once, when I was commentating, Graeme Smith was asked at the toss about his side and he simply said, 'it's our regular Test team'.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a bit like Vernon Philander so South Africa just can't think they would knock them over with pace. The key for India would be to find good seam bowlers. Umesh Yadav could find a good rhythm in South Africa. India are tougher mentally and more experienced than Pakistan who had some great sessions but missed a decent and experienced bowling attack.

Why did it take SA this long to get to where they are now in Tests?
For a long time, South Africa were criticised for not having a great Test spinner. They tried (Imran) Tahir as the last puzzle in the jigsaw but it never worked out. You now have Robin Pietersen but South Africa, especially at home and in England and Australia, have benefited by sticking to their strength. We have three-four really good and very different fast bowers. And then there's Jacques Kallis.

Ever thought of anyone in international cricket who fielded better than you?
Difficult to compare but I think Andrew Symonds was a great all-round fielder, for a big guy he got down really well and also had a great arm. Herschelle Gibbs, De Villiers, Virat (Kohli), Ricky (Ponting), Glenn Maxwell too are superb.
When we went to the World Cup in 1992, we wanted to be the fittest team and the best fielding team. I had a reputation of being a good fielder from school which was why I was selected because there was no one to compare. Now, from where I would hit the stumps three times out of 10, Ricky does about six. I dived to get Inzamam out (in the 1992 World Cup) because I knew there was only a 30% chance of throwing down the stumps.

Still regret coming really close to playing the Olympics?
In one year (1996) I could have played the cricket World Cup and the Olympics but for a strained hamstring. The one tournament I missed for personal reasons was the Commonwealth Games where Shaun Pollock captained. They came back saying what an awesome opportunity it was mixing with the real athletes. Cricketers aren't really athletes. I mean a three-hour hockey training session would leave me, a fit youngster, dead. It's never that way in cricket. And they shared experiences of meeting athletes who aren't recognised, who had to organise their funds to be able to represent their country. Cricketers are quite well looked after.