Kings XI Punjab were electric on the field last night, as they managed to defend a meagre total of 127 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2020 Dream11 Indian Premier League. KL Rahul’s side managed to hold on to eight catches in the outfield in that game, and were sharp with their ground fielding as well, to give the franchise a memorable win and keep their hopes alive to make it to the playoffs.
Kings XI Punjab’s fielding coach Jonty Rhodes has so far been reluctant to take any credit for his side performing so admirably on the field, but the talisman former South African cricketer’s influence surely seems to have rubbed off on the team. In an exclusive interview with KXIP.in, Rhodes- who was an extraordinary fielder himself in his playing days, revealed what makes a good fielder and what probably has helped KXIP be so dominant in the field.
“Everyone is built differently, everyone’s got different roles in the team, but the one attribute that makes anyone a better fielder is expecting every ball to come to you,” reveals Jonty Rhodes. “It can make you a better fielder even without practicing catching or throwing.”
“Commentators back then used to talk about my good ‘anticipation’ while playing. And I didn’t have faster reflexes than the others, or I would have been a much better batsman. So it wasn’t a case of me seeing the ball earlier, I just expected each game to come to me. I was ready before the ball was hit,” added KXIP’s fielding coach.
“It's only 120 balls, so it is very easy to switch on and switch off, but if you are expecting every ball to come to you no matter where you are fielding, you will be an excellent fielder,” clarified Rhodes.
It is that tip that seems to have worked wonders for Kings XI Punjab so far, who have given the tournament some of its finest fielding displays. Be it Nicholas Pooran’s gravity-defying save to Mayank Agarwal’s boundary saving effort, or the collective team effort last night against Sunrisers last night, KXIP’s fielders seem to be thriving under the tutelage of Jonty Rhodes.
“My job is to try and make fielding interesting and simple. In a competition like the IPL, you meet the players literally 10 days before the tournament starts, so changing things drastically is very difficult.
“What you want to do is give the players one or two small technical changes that they can adapt to and try to make them slightly faster while moving across the ground. I try and teach the players to be the best that they can be, and not have them expecting to become another Jonty Rhodes. Jonty Rhodes is old, that guy is done and dusted,” chuckled Rhodes while concluding the interview.