AB de Villiers is a freak, says coach R Sridhar

This happened in the eighth over of SRH’s innings when the ‘Spideman’ defied the gravity. The South African leapt and plucked the ball in the air to the amazement of the fielders, including Kohli, teammates, Hales and the huge crowd.

By   |  Published: 19th May 2018  12:04 amUpdated: 18th May 2018  9:51 pm

Hyderabad: It is a Spiderman stuff. This is how Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli reacted after AB de Villiers took a spectacular catch to dismiss Alex Hales of Sunrisers Hyderabad at deep mid-wicket in Bengaluru on Thursday night.

This happened in the eighth over of SRH’s innings when the ‘Spideman’ defied the gravity. The South African leapt and plucked the ball in the air to the amazement of the fielders, including Kohli, teammates, Hales and the huge crowd. “That was Spiderman stuff. You don’t do that as normal human beings. I thought it was going for a six, but he pulls it out, then the jump and then the balance. I mean he can do freakish things but I am used to it now. His shots still leave me in awe but his fielding I am pretty used to. That was fun to watch.”

Off-spinner Moeen Ali was awestruck. “One of the best I have ever seen. When he (Hales) hit it, I thought, six. But with AB you have always got a chance. What a grab! He is an amazing fielder, everybody knows that, and only he can do that.”

Indian fielding coach R Sridhar said de Villiers’ effort was of sheer athleticism and anticipation. “AB de Villiers is a freak. He has got a gift of amazing athleticism, agility and a safe pair of hands. He has also got the extra bit of time to take some stunning catches, particularly in the outfield. In this particular catch to dismiss Hales, it was a perfect anticipation. He jumped to perfection while taking the catch. He is a class apart.”

According to Sridhar, de Villiers and Kohli are definitely outstanding fielders of the world, particularly with their athleticism. “They have been a revelation. They have raised the bar. They have got excellent hands while taking the catches.”

The former Hyderabad left-arm spinner said the fielding standard in cricket has reached a new high. “For sure, there is improved level of fitness standards. The training has been more intense nowadays and that is the why we are seeing these type of catches apart from de Villiers and Kohli.”

Sridhar pointed out that it is a new challenge for all fielding coaches. “It has gone to a new level, especially in the T20 format where the fielders have to be on their toes. But in this year’s IPL, there has been brilliant ground fielding and spectacular catches. But at the same time there were a few dropped catches too. This happened due to dew conditions or because of light or because of the pressure.”

Sridhar added that emphasis has been given in training sessions to take on-the-rope catches. “There is more specific training. The awareness and intensive training sessions are the two factors that have seen a number of spectacular catches.”

Sridhar also felt that fielding has become an important and primary skill for any modern team. “The mindset and approach towards fielding has changed. The players are spending more time on fielding drills then what it was in the past. That is a huge difference now.”

The fielding coach said the standard in the Indian team too has gone up. “It is good to see fast bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur and others making big strides on the field. Umesh Yadav has always been a good athlete and Shardul Thakur is also good. All the Indian fast bowlers have improved on their work ethics while fielding. Hardik Pandya too has shown tremendous agility on the field. This augurs well for the Indian team now.”