There have been numerous brilliant catches throughout the years and while some have stood out for their acrobatics, others are simply memorable for being complete blinders with impossible reaction times. Jonty Rhodes,of course, revolutionized fielding in cricket but including him in such a list will take up most of the spots single-handedly. His stunning exploits including diving forward to take a skier to dismiss Brian Lara, his 100th catch with an unbelievable reaction time to send back Damien Martyn or the catch to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar in 1997 (a catch Rhodes himself has called the “best of his career) are too well-known and numerous to warrant a place on this list.
Here are 5 examples of astounding fielding efforts from players who attempted to take impossible catches and succeeded, shocking the batsmen and providing an incredible boost to their team-mates.
1) Rahul Dravid’s 200th catch
Before Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif burst onto the scene, for a while, besides momentary brilliance from Robin Singh, Rahul Dravid had been India’s most dependable fielder famous for stating that 'There are no easy catches in the slips' which was his preferred position.
Rahul Dravid brought up his 200th Test catch with an insanely quick reaction catch to dismiss Dale Steyn off Harbhajan Singh when the South African player prodded at a turning ball that hit the bat’s edge and brushed past MS Dhoni’s pads almost behind the keeper. With immediacy and experience, Dravid dived to his left and instinctively stretched out his left hand and latched onto the ball reflexively thus incredibly bringing up his catches tally to 200 and breaking out into a celebratory run.
However one of Dravid’s personal favourite catches is when he stuck out his right hand and the ball nestled into his hands off the bat of Damien Martyn from Sachin Tendulkar’s Bowling. It is not for nothing that Jammy was often considered to have the safest pair of hands in the cricketing world.
2) Ricky Ponting’s stunning catch with a reaction time 0.16 seconds
In 2004 when India was playing Australia at Mumbai in the final Test, Ricky Ponting took one of the best catches of his career to dismiss Dinesh Karthik. Michael Clarke was the bowler and Karthik was batting on 4.
For a fielder as spectacular as Punter, it’s saying something when we say this was one of his best efforts and that too for a variety of reasons. Karthik initially tried to play the ball on the leg side but he top-edged it and it flew fast to the off-side where Ponting had to dive left for a blinder which is not actually his preferred side of catching. However, he anticipated it and caught it successfully and that too with a reaction time of 0.16 seconds i.e 1/6th of a second.
3) Trevor Barsby’s catch at short leg to dismiss Ryan Campbell
Trevor Barsby’s stunner of a catch is one of those incredibly rare gems in cricket that is difficult to emulate. It might seem like a fluke but is definitely one of the best reflex catches in the history of cricket.
Queensland was playing Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match and Western Australian batsman Ryan Campbell flicked the ball off his pads from a delivery by Adam Dale. Surprisingly he was caught by Trevor Barsby at short leg who had less than a fraction of a second to react and by the time the commentator says "it's in the air!" Barsby had thrown the ball up in celebration.
4) Collingwood’s screamer against Hayden
Besides Jonty Rhodes and Ricky Ponting, Paul Collingwood has easily been one of the best and most influential fielding sensations in recent times. Collingwood at point must be a reassuring sight for any bowler and a guarantee of runs saved.
Collingwood’s greatest catch arguably is the one where he dismissed Mathew Hayden in an ODI at Bristol in 2005. It is one of the most electric pieces of fielding in modern times raising wonder at how anyone can manage to connect with that ball, much less react that fast and have the reflexes to bare hand grab it – jumping up, sideways and backwards to get to the ball in the blink of an eye.
The ball took less than a second from the bat to the fielder and Hayden’s incredulous reaction after the catch stands as proof to the shock value of Collingwood’s catch.
5) Andrew Strauss’ lightning one-handed beauty in the Ashes, 2005
This has often been slated as one of the most memorable catches of the Ashes of all times and one of the best slip catches, overall. Andrew Strauss' one handed feat to dismiss Adam Gilchrist in 2005 was a treat for any cricket fan.
One of Gilchrist's favourite areas to hit the ball down for a boundary was towards third-man and this is exactly what he tried to do even in this game. Unfortunately for him, a wonderful English fielder guarded the position. If it would have been anyone else there, maybe the ball would have run down for a four.
Andrew Strauss, however, was hearing none of it as he, with immense concentration and focus, stopped the ball and dismissed Adam Gilchrist. It was a pleasant surprise to see the lightning reflexes that Strauss demonstrated more so because he had never shown such ingenuity in the past.
His athleticism showed that England was extremely serious about the tournament and gave everything they could to outdo their rivals.