Cricket is not just about sending down a round object over a thick strip of 22 yards towards a figure wielding a block of wood, who dispatches it all over the park.
It is also about a less glamourous aspect called fielding – the art of chasing the ball and preventing the batting side from taking complete control of the game.
The kind of excitement that batting and bowling provide makes an average person, who is not familiar with the game, wonder whether that is what cricket is all about. Fielding, in comparison, is not as glittering as the other two departments.
But in times of great need, all it takes is one superb effort from a fielder to turn the tide of the match in his side’s favour. The moments of brilliance may be few and far in between, but when they do arrive, they dazzle you with the sheer artistry you would normally associate with wizards.
Australia has produced many fine exponents of this art, and even the world-beating West Indies had the likes of the Big Cat Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards in their ranks. England’s banner was held by Paul Collingwood for quite a long period of time, while South Africa seems to churn out one classy fielder after another.
Of late, teams from the subcontinent have also experienced a revival in what most considered to be their glaring weakness. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have benefited from the enthusiasm and quicksilver reflexes the younger lot have brought in.
Here is a look at some of the greatest fielders in ODI cricket:
Special Mention: Steve Smith (Australia) and Suresh Raina (India)
Sydney all-rounder Steve Smith is one spirited youngster who not only brings in fresh energy to the Australian side, but also agility and the litheness of a panther. Balance, anticipation and awareness are his key strengths, which make him a potent weapon on the ground. Blessed with the ability to score plenty of run outs from the in-field or executing powerful throws from the deep, Smith is certainly the kind of cricketer Australia have chosen to fill the void caused by the retirement of Ponting and Mike Hussey.
In Suresh Raina, India has unearthed a gem of a fieldsman. Be it fielding in the covers or lurking around in the in-field, the UP lad’s energetic, athletic presence on the ground seems to rub off on his teammates as well. Along with the aggressive Virat Kohli and the
committed Rohit Sharma, he provides a perfect foil to veteran Yuvraj Singh, and it is difficult for opposition batsmen to wrong-foot him most of the time.