Hyderabad: Former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes believes that the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in England from May 30 is going to be a close one. “There is nothing much that separates between the top six teams of the tournament. With the round-robin format in place, out of ten teams, at least six teams have the potential to win the World Cup.”
“If you look at India, they have got a balanced side. England and Australia have explosive batting line-ups while Pakistan is heavily reliant on their pacers. New Zealand, South Africa and Windies can also do well because of the strength in their squad,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes was in the city along with former Windies and Afghanistan fielding coach Ryan Maron for a three-day exclusive training for budding cricketers of the Sarojini Cricket and Fitness Academy, Musheerabad.
Talking about the role of fielding in the 44-day long tournament, the 50-year-old Rhodes, widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time, was quick to point out the impact of fielding in the World Cup.
“There is a thin line that separates each team in the World Cup. That makes fielding very important. You need to make the most of the half chances given by the opposition. Just look at what happened in the third ODI between England and Pakistan. They dropped Jason Roy several times and it affected them dearly in that match,” Jonty said.
The former cricketer also lauded the rising standards of fielding from Team India. “India is generally considered as a weak fielding unit. But the team has improved tremendously under the leadership of Virat Kohli, who focuses a lot on fitness. I don’t want to point out any individual, but there are some excellent fielders in their side. Even in the last World Cup, I was amazed to see Indian team outplaying South Africa in terms of fielding when they met in the group stage,” he added.
Rhodes observed that the World Cup pitches are going to be in favour of the batsmen. “Powerful batting teams are going to do well in the World Cup. I think, targets of 360 to 400 runs will occur in most of the matches. England really showed in the ongoing series that they are a team that can chase down any total. It will be a very hot summer. So, another important thing is to take wickets. Teams which don’t have any variety in their attack are likely to struggle,” he pointed out.
When asked about who are the best fielders in present day cricket, Rhodes was quick to interrupt. “Fielding is a collective activity. Your team is not sure of winning a match if you have one extra-ordinary fielder and ten average fielders. There are a lot of brilliant fielders at present and I see some wonderful catches taken by them. So I don’t want to disappoint them by revealing the names of only a few,” Rhodes signed off with a smile.