Incredible outpouring of condolences unique to Indian cricket: Jonty Rhodes
Mumbai, Aug 16 (PTI) Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes said today that the spontaneous outpouring of condolence messages for former Test captain Ajit Wadekar, who died here yesterday, was unique to Indian cricket.
"Ajit Wadekar was a game changer in the way he led India to Test victories overseas. This incredible outpouring of condolences (on his death) is unique to Indian cricket which is a tight knit community. It does not happen elsewhere," said Rhodes after he was announced here as the brand ambassador for ISUZU pick-up vehicles in the country.
Wadekar, who died aged 77, had led the country to its first-ever Test series triumphs away from home against the West Indies and England in 1971 to make the year a landmark one for Indian cricket.
Rhodes, who has been the fielding coach for three-time IPL-winning outfit Mumbai Indians, felt that India have missed the services of their fast bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah who did so well in his own native country in the Test series held there late last season.
"India came so close to a victory in South Africa but they have been missing two key bowlers who did well in that series - Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah (due to injuries) in England," said the 49-year-old Natal born former cricketer who had represented his country in 52 Tests and 245 ODIs between 1992 and 2003.
India are 0-2 down in the five-Test series in England and have also dropped a few catches in the slip cordon over the last few years in overseas conditions.
Rhodes, considered to be among the best-ever fielders ever seen in the game with his tiger-like coverage of the cover-point area, said there was a basic difference between taking slip catches in India and in countries like South Africa and England.
"In India the catches come at or below knee level and the fingers have to be pointed towards the ground while taking them. In England, Australia and South Africa it's the reverse (fingers should be pointing up as the ball comes well above the knee). You can't change old habits in six weeks," was his explanation.
However, he also felt that the Indian fielding standards have improved due to the IPL.
"Fielding of Indian players has improved because of IPL. You can see this by the fact that initially out of the top ten catches in the league eight used to be by overseas players. Now a lot of Indians are in this list of top catchers."
He also advised the South African cricket authorities not to seek a like-for-like replacement for their recently retired top-notch player, A B de Villiers.
"A lot of players come and go away. You should not try to replace de Villiers. South Africa need to play to their core strength," he remarked.