Jonty Rhodes

Fielding, one of the three aspects in cricket was not given as much importance as batting or bowling, until this man showed up. Jonty announced himself on the world stage when he flung in the air and ran-out Inzamam-Ul-Haq in the 1992 World Cup game against Pakistan. He was very agile, thanks to playing hockey in his younger days, and made the backward point region a very important position in the field.

Jonty was also a very hard-worker, playing cricket did not come naturally to him. For the first few years, he made it to the team only because of his fielding prowess but he soon realised that he had to contribute with the bat as well. A complete change in his batting technique, helped him improve his skills as a batsman. After the change, he averaged more than 50 in Tests and in ODIs he was a innovative, and was one of the first batsman to play the reverse-sweep. Rhodes was also one of the first cricketers to take paternity leave, he took a semi-retirement when his daughter was born. At one stage in his career, Jonty had more endorsements than any other team-sports player in South Africa.

An unfortunate fracture on the finger during the 2003 World Cup cut-short his career. He soon retired and went onto play for Gloucestershire in County Cricket. After retiring from all forms of cricket, Jonty was hired by Standard Bank as an account executive. He is also the current fielding coach of the South African national team and Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

Interesting facts: Jonty was called for hockey trials to the 1996 Olympics, but he was ruled out due to an hamstring injury. He was voted as one of Wisden Cricketer’s of the Year in 1999. In SABC3’s Great South Africans television series, Jonty was voted 29th in the Top 100 South Africans.

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