Unitech Cup, 2006 August 13, 2006

Rhodes backs Tendulkar's inclusion

Cricinfo staff

'If you have a guy like Sachin Tendulkar who is back in form, then you have to have him in the team' - Rhodes © AFP

Jonty Rhodes, the former South African middle-order batsman who developed into one of the greatest fielders of all time, feels that Sachin Tendulkar deserves a place in the Indian team purely on the strength of his batting ability, even if he is unable to give his best as a fielder. Rhodes had suggested that Tendulkar field in the inner circle, which would help protect his shoulder from the risk of injury.

"Even if he can't field from the deep, you have to have him at mid-off or mid-on and protect him. Because I don't think it is going to take a whole year till the World Cup for him to be 100% fit", Rhodes told PTI. "It is a confidence thing for him. If he is happy that his shoulder is fine, and if you have a guy like Sachin Tendulkar who is back in form, then you have to have him in the team."

Tendulkar returned to the Indian side for the tri-series in Sri Lanka after a four-month layoff, during which he underwent surgery in his right shoulder. He gained valuable match practice in England for a brief period, representing club-side Lashings, and was included in the Indian squad after being given the green signal by John Gloster, the team physiotherapist.

Rhodes, who observed Tendulkar at the nets in Colombo, remarked that he was impressed with his disclipline. Javagal Srinath, the former Indian fast bowler, also recently concurred with Rhodes's view that Tendulkar is good enough to walk into the team. "I have seen how he works as a batsman at the nets, he is very disciplined. And I expect him to do the same sort of rehab on his shoulders," Rhodes said. "I would be inclined to have him in the team, just based on his past performance."

Rhodes, also the fielding coach of the South African team, had cited the throwing techniques of players nowadays as the main reason for the recurrence of shoulder injuries. "The problem with current players is that a lot of them are quiet for 5-6 overs and then suddenly they throw", he said. "What happens is your shoulders are not warm, resulting in injuries. Today's throwing technique is also not correct, which is what I am trying to work with the South African team."

Rhodes also acknowledged the rise in fielding standards in all countries and denied that South Africa had slipped in that department. "I don't think we have lost it. It is just that every team has realised the importance of fielding. I would rather say that we have back-toed a bit while other teams have also caught up with us. It is also that we set really high standards for ourselves to maintain."