Indian Premier League 2009 April 14, 2009

Rhodes calls for fielding captains in Twenty20s

Jonty Rhodes, one of the greatest fielders, has partially backed John Buchanan's multi-captain theory by calling for a fielding captain in Twenty20s. Rhodes feels the nominated player can play the role of a "facilitator" for the team captain, who would have many other responsibilities and could not be expected to carry out every fielding change.

Rhodes, the fielding coach of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, said Hansie Cronje, the former South Africa captain, had given him the task of monitoring the field to make sure all the players were attentive. Rhodes felt it was a move that helped South Africa become one of the best fielding units.

"Cronje gave me the responsibility to find ways to improve our fielding...You can have a guy who is responsible for that, if you want to call him the fielding captain that's fine," Rhodes told Cricinfo from Durban, where he is supervising the Mumbai squad with his former team-mate Shaun Pollock, the team's mentor.

Buchanan's theory of multiple-strategists for the Kolkata Knight Riders created a huge furore. As part of his plan to succeed in Twenty20s, Buchanan favoured more "decision-makers" in the side, including one who could look after the fielders. Rhodes said the man in charge of the fielding needs to make sure fielders are into their positions quickly so the bowlers could get through the overs soon.

"Also if there is an instance where the player could dive but doesn't then, without adding pressure on him, you need the guy [fielding captain] to tell him what could've been the result if only he had attempted the dive," Rhodes said. "That's not the captain's role (to advise the fielders). He has many other things on his head. The fielding captain is like a facilitator."

Rhodes, who was a consultant with the South African team, said during his interaction last month with the Mumbai players he stressed on throwing techniques and foot movement, two aspects that make a good fielder.

Asked to nominate the best fielders in the game today, Rhodes picked countrymen JP Duminy and AB de Villiers, Australian Andrew Symonds, and England's Paul Collingwood.

"JP Duminy fields well in the inner ring in the first six overs. And when the fielding restrictions are over because he is very quick to the ball and even if he may not have the biggest arm in the world, he has a good throw, his body position is good, catches a lot of balls in the outfield so he is very good. Andrew Symonds is a very good all-round fielder, too He is very strong in the inner ring, who leans very well and throws very well from the boundary. AB de Villiers has really good feet movement as a wicketkeeper and Paul Collingwood is very good at backward point or at cover."

Rhodes felt their strength was that they are completely focused. In his own words it means "intensity", which, he says, is the key to success in Twenty20 cricket. "You have to maintain a high intensity. There are only 120 balls, you have to be focused every single ball, expecting every single ball to come to you whether you are fielding at third man, fine leg, or backward point, the way the guys play shots these days you have to expect the ball to come wherever you fielding," Rhodes said. "That is the key to good fielding - if you are expecting it you can put up a good performance."

Rhodes said that while the basic skills of fielding remain the same in all forms of the game, it is the intensity that differs. "Even in the 50-overs game I was expecting the ball to come to me and was quite disappointed if it didn't come. Pressure is a constant in the 20-over game with matches going right down to the wire so you can't afford to really make a mistake with bat, ball or in the field. Fielding is the same, just that you are doing it at a lot quicker pace."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo