From cricbuzz – Former South African cricketer and fielding legend Jonty Rhodes is in city and this time it’s not just for surfing. Rhodes, fielding coach of Mumbai Indians, has taken up the the role of a mentor with TNPL franchise Ruby Trichy Warriors. In an interaction, the 48-year-old opened up on the talk surrounding AB de Villiers’s Test retirement, India’s progress as a fielding unit and more. Excerpts:
What’s your take on de Villiers missing out on the England Test series?
Actually, I spoke to de Villiers on Tuesday with regard to the Global T20 that’s going to happen in South Africa. And certainly he didn’t ask my opinion about his career. Every player knows when their time is right. The frustrating part from the South African context is that when you are waiting for somebody to come back in, you are almost trying to plug the gaps with options. And you play that guy [who replaces de Villiers] in and out of a side.
How do you view all the talks around de Villiers’s probable Test retirement?
I think he wanted to retire a while back from Test cricket, but Cricket South Africa persuaded him to stay on. Before 2016, he was talking to people about his Test future. In South Africa, people are critical because they don’t see the IPL mechanism.
They think cricketers are trying to make as much money as possible and it’s often at the expense of national call-ups. The BCCI is the only cricket board that doesn’t allow their players to play in other competitions. But our guys go from IPL to CPL to England to Big Bash. And they play Tests and ODIs whenever they can. There is so much workload and the guys work hard.
How do you see India’s progress as a fielding unit?
When we used to play against India, Mohammed Kaif and Yuvraj Singh were outstanding and Harbhajan Singh was probably the third best. Dhoni and Virat Kohli are physically strong. Fitness has certainly improved and so is the athletic ability. It was well evident in the last World Cup when de Villiers was run out from the boundary by a fast bowler [Mohit Sharma]. It’s because of T20 cricket. The key elements in Kohli’s team selection are fitness and fielding. He is leaving players out who he deems not fit enough, no matter how good they are.