Punjab Kings have arguably the best fielding coach in the business, with Jonty Rhodes leading the IPL franchise's efforts. The South African ace joined the team last season and was tasked with improve their performances on the field.
Jonty Rhodes spoke at an online interaction on Thursday. He was asked by Sportskeeda whether it was difficult to convince players to pay importance to fielding drills.
“I think, fortunately, T20 cricket around the world, and not just the IPL…some of these players are playing T20 cricket six months a year. So, the importance of fielding is right up there,” discussed Rhodes.
Punjab Kings have some great fielders in their ranks. Nicholas Pooran gave fans the highlight of IPL 2020, with his stunning boundary effort last year leaving countless amazed.
Add to that players like Mayank Agarwal and Mandeep Singh, and one can see why the Punjab Kings are a formidable fielding unit.
Discussing the side, Jonty Rhodes stressed how good fielding makes a difference irrespective of a player's ability.
“Everybody knows it, and everybody contributes towards it. Because you can be the No.1 T20 batter in the world, which we have in our team, Dawid Malan. But you watch him in the field, he’s brilliant in the field as well. Not just in the games, but in the practices too. Having the rank of No.1 in T20 cricket is not going to make you a special player unless you are a special person as well,” the 51-year-old explained.
Seeing senior players do well encourages youngsters: Jonty Rhodes
There is a common belief that older players are poorer fielders. The same goes for fast bowlers, with the group regarded as one of the weaker fielders on the cricket field.
Jonty Rhodes denied such suggestions, pointing out how Mohammed Shami was their unlikely hero last year.
“From that perspective, Shami got our first run out last season. With Sunrisers, we had the highest number of runs out in the game. We had three direct hits and Shami was the one that got us going with the first direct hit,” Rhodes said.
Jonty Rhodes admitted his plans vary with each player. Taking Mohammed Shami’s example, the former cricketer explained how he altered his fielding drills for the express pacer.
“Shami is such an important part of our bowling. If I am stretching him, it is possible he is going to hurt a finger, an elbow or a shoulder. So, I am making sure he is comfortable in his fielding and he can be the best fielder he can be at the tournament. He certainly didn’t let us down. It is important that younger players see the senior guys practising under high intensity because that encourages them to do the same,” he continued.
Jonty Rhodes revealed how senior players help improve the team’s fielding ability. The coach admitted he wants fielding to be an add-on to what a player can do on a cricket field.
“So, it is not just about your younger faster fielders. It is about encouraging the senior guys to set that example. But without false expectation. Everybody is built differently, has different roles under the team so I am more specific on ‘What is your role in the team? Okay, we will make you the best fielder to compliment that role,'” concluded Rhodes.
Punjab Kings will begin their IPL 2021 campaign on April 12. The franchise is set to take on the Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai, and Jonty Rhodes will hope his side picks up from where they left off last season.