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Jonathan Neil Rhodes: Bird of prey

Lord made him lightning quick and we all enjoyed every bit of him. He owed a gift of making the spectacular appear a commonplace.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2003 23:18 IST
Manish Verma
Manish Verma

Lord made him lightning quick and we all enjoyed every bit of him. He owed a gift of making the spectacular appear a commonplace.

In the ongoing World Cup that has been weighed down by so many controversies, every cricket lover got a shock: Rhodes finally said goodbye to cricket. Although Rhodes' departure made little impact as the teams continue to battle for the biggest pride.

At 33, he looked swifter than ever. It might not have been time for Jonathan Neil Rhodes to go but there is an irony in the way he had to go.

Rhodes confirmed his retirement from international cricket after he broke his right-hand while fielding against Kenya in a Group B World Cup tie.

He was dropped by the selectors after it was revealed his hand would take at least three weeks to heal, ruling him out of the first round of the tournament. Rhodes had earlier announced his retirement after the World Cup.

His flight to fame started during the 1992 World Cup. Rhodes was airborne and in full stretch when he ran out Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq and from that moment on, there was no looking back.

All the fielders have been delivered their patron saint. Diving here and there, dirtying his clothes is something you will associate with this man more often. He brought incredible vividness to the craft of fielding. Rhodes made everybody watch him, demanded a great deal of attention, and forced photographers to tilt their angle of cameras towards him.

Sometimes this 33-year old “boy” conjured up with catches from the strokes that appear to a TV spectator will hit the hoarding boards. The ball barely rise above the ground or appear certain to go well over his head and he feels that God has sent him on the ground only to save runs or else he will be doing a sin.

He was an anticipation mixed with momentum, reflex connected with timing and a real athlete. He used to soar and leap and not only stopped a ball but actually grabbed it. Images of Rhodes flying through the air have become synonymous with excitement in cricket and have inspired youngsters whether they play on roads, streets or anywhere. There were very batsmen who would dare challenge his territorial sovereignty.

Besides his run-saving ability, he has 245 one-day international, highest by any South African, scoring 5935 runs with two centuries. His peculiar fielding talents and never-say die attitude has yielded him 139 victims in both forms of game.

Off the field, he is ridiculously cheerful and appallingly humble. Jonty’s first sporting love but he abandoned it for rugby and soccer.

He will be sorely missed by millions and will be celebrated as a great sporting icon in the cricketing world. Bid Adieu to this gentleman.

Bid adieu, Jonty Rhodes.

Jonty Rhodes profile

First Published: Feb 18, 2003 23:56 IST