'I will assist Pakistan for two weeks' - Rhodes
Jonty Rhodes has confirmed that he will work with the Pakistan cricket team on a short-term basis ahead of their tour to England this summer.
"I will be assisting Pakistan for only two weeks before their England tour," Rhodes told the website gulfnews.com. "I have been invited by Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. I would be going mainly to help them improve their fielding."
Pakistan's fielding in the 4-1 one-day series loss to India at home earlier this year, which some of the team management conceded was the worst in some time, sparked off the search for a fielding coach. Rhodes had been the preferred choice fromt the beginning.
Pakistan expect Rhodes to start work with the 25 probables for the England tour next month. Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, expects to utilise Rhodes's expertise to improve standards of senior players as well as members of the A team. He is also hoping to use Rhodes to work with trainees in the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
Rhodes, currently in Dubai to conduct a cricket clinic for young children on behalf of Standard Bank, said that fielding was a crucial element of cricket. "I am happy that every team is now focusing on improving their fielding. When South Africa went to Australia last year, they dropped 11 catches while Australians dropped just one. Australia beat us 2-0 in the series. If we had held those catches, the story would have been different."
Hailed as one of the world's greatest fielders, Rhodes said that the side which had the best fielders would lift next year's World Cup in the Caribbean. "Australians are the favourites to win the next World Cup not because they are good with the bat and the ball but because they are good on the field too," he said. "Pakistan, India, South Africa and New Zealand are all evenly matched. It is their fielding that will make the difference."
However, a touch of patriotism remained for Rhodes. "Personally, I would love to back South Africa winning the World Cup," he added. "They recently chased 434 to beat Australia. I believe that a team which can do that can also go on to achieve anything."