South Africa v Pakistan, Brisbane, World Cup 1992 October 30, 2010

Jonty launches himself

Trevor Chesterfield
When Rhodes went airborne and into the stumps, and created a legacy

On a steamy, glowering Brisbane Sunday afternoon, South Africa's hopes of daring to dream of a World Cup semi-final place, or making the final, were faltering.

Jonty Rhodes, a blue-eyed bundle of 22-year-old energy, was lurking at point as an anxious Inzamam-ul-Haq and his captain, Imran Khan, worked the ball around, searching for runs; sweating with resolve, giving Pakistan the edge.

It is March 8, 1992: a buzzing Gabba crowd and television audiences both sides of the Indian Ocean are trying to understand the mathematical minefield of playing conditions with sneaky rain-interruption clauses. If you think Duckworth-Lewis is a conundrum, regulations employed for the 1992 World Cup gave a bigger sarcastic middle finger with its dirty imprint to the question of run-rate equation.

It was a game South Africa needed to win. An euphoric tournament-opening success over Australia in Sydney was followed with defeats by New Zealand and Sri Lanka before they beat West Indies in Christchurch.

In Brisbane rain had halted the Pakistan innings after South Africa scored a stodgy 211 for 7 in 50 overs. Imran Khan, on winning the toss, had gambled with the conditions. Rain and the absurd "best overs" run rate had Pakistan - 74 for 2 in the 22nd over at the interruption - facing a revised target of 194 in 36 overs.

As a prologue, months earlier a curious sports community had embraced cricket's prodigal child, South Africa, after a politically forced absence of 21 years, when they embarked on a historic tour of India. However, the side, led by Clive Rice, also received a grim lesson in strategy during that remarkable eight-day journey.

It became all too evident their gameplans were sadly festooned with outdated thinking. For the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, fresh ideas were needed and Kepler Wessels knew the conditions better than anyone. He had taken the tougher route to achieve a Test cap: Australia in preference to England, and learnt what was needed to survive in such a competitive environment. From this experience he knew how to compete on the big fields of Australia. It would demand fit, quick-thinking, streetwise players.

Rhodes had already established a template for fielding expertise before the tournament. Some of it adapted from hockey, where he was a dynamic player, teaching him alertness and anticipation. Having seen him close up in both sports, the run-out of Inzamam at the Gabba was not surprising.

The scoreboard reads 135 for 2, Inzamam, flails at the delivery and it flies off the pad; a prowling Rhodes at backward point swoops on the ball, a panicking Imran has Inzamam scooting back too late.

Memory recalls it in slow motion: Rhodes analytically processing the moment; in the next eight seconds he charges in, ball in hand, arm outstretched, dismantling the stumps to perform the most celebrated run-out and fielding act of the decade, creating an international reputation and establishing a legacy.

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  • Mayuresh on November 2, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    @Pathiyal: Yes, there was a Indian Hero ... the actual WALL in terms of fielding who even had forced the great Don Bradman raise eyebrows....completely fearless and that was Ekki (The great Eknath Solkar) The only person you could compare Jonty to.... mark the carefully used words dont compare Ekki to Jonty but vice versa....the reason when Ekki played the safety measures were almost absent and even then the positions he stood at ... even Jonty has not dared that.

  • Vanbert on October 31, 2010, 20:44 GMT

    @Avradeep. Some history lessons would really serve you well. You remember well that India beat Zimbabwe in WC92. But you claim it was the only match India won. Have you forgotten that India beat Pakistan too? Anyway, this is a piece about Jonty's run out and for sheer audacity and anti-gravity pyrotechnics, I don't think this piece of fielding can be surpassed. Anticipation, clarity of thought and execution. The only thing that comes close (and that is to say around 100 miles near Jonty's run out) would probably be Mohd Kaif's run out of Nick Knight at Kingsmead during the 2003 world cup.

  • sharjeel on October 31, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    Fawwad Baccus was a better fielder when it comes to catching. Once he was standing at short mid wicket against Pakistan. Batsman hit a hard short but he caught it from few years.

  • Farhan on October 31, 2010, 17:24 GMT

    Avradeep , as they say people have a short memory , other gentleman said the year 2001 and you say it was 1999 ,just to correct you, that Rain effected final between India and SouthAfrica was actually in February 1997(dont remember exact date)played in Kingsmead-Durban, SouthAfrica, and Rhodes took a blinder at point , completely airborne to catch hold of Sachin's severely cracking Square cut and send him back to pavilion, how ever in the re played final india fell short by just 18 Runs and this match was touted as "Can India repeat TITAN CUP FINAL" , 3 months earlier in Nov-1996 India had lost all league matches to SA but came back strongly to win the final at Mumbai. Really interesting were those days...players such as Donald,Pollock, Cronje,Kallis,kirsten and Sachin,Azhar,Dravid,Srinath, Robin singh etc were at their best.

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    I am glad to be born in rhodes era.. i loved watching him..he made me dive for every ball even on flat surface

  • Vinod on October 31, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    there could be debates such as Sach or Lara, Murali or Warne, Mcgrath or Wasim. but can anybody cook up some argument regarding who the best fielder the international cricket has ever witnessed? anybody??????

  • Sooraj on October 31, 2010, 9:48 GMT

    He should be subjected to thorough check to confirm if he actually is human. Seriously. His antics on the field is humanly impossible.

  • Asaduzzaman on October 31, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Inzi is one of my favourite batsman, but still I like to watch the video of his runout by Rhodes. What a fielder he is!! I usually did not like to miss the match of SA when they are in fielding side because of J. Rhodes...... the gratest filelder all time.

  • Dummy4 on October 31, 2010, 2:03 GMT

    After Jonty I would rate Hershell Gibbs, Mohd Azzharudin, Chris Harris & Ricky Ponting as the best fielders in cover or square leg. Others like Roger Harper, Gus Logie, Viv Richards, Asif Iqbal, Abie Devilliers, Suresh Raina, Mohd Kaif and Paul Collingwood come next.

  • Avradeep on October 30, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    @RK_cric and Praveen - It was the rain abandoned triseries final between IND and SA in the year 1999(Most probably & surely not 2001) . Jhonty took an unbelievable catch to send tendulkar to the pavilion. The third team was zimbabwe and we lost to them in the group stages. In the actual final - Donald and dravid were involved in an ugly spat. Dravid hit Donald for a six and Alan Donald uttered the four letter "F..." word to DRavid. India lost the match inspite of heroics from Dravid and Robin Singh. I vividly remember that.

    In fact 1992 world cup is still fresh in my memory - i was only a 9 year old kid then. every moring i used to wake up to see Mark Greatbatch hitting a lot of sixes. Tendulkar made a blaing 50 against zimbabwe and that was the only match we won in 92 world cup. We lost by 1 run to Australia - Manjarekar tried his best, but it was due to those horrifying rain-interruption clauses. Those were much worse than duckworth lewis.

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