Jonty Rhodes - The Greatest Fielder of all Time in Cricket

A very famous dialogue from the movie, MS Dhoni - The Untold Story goes like: Ek bowler wicket lega, ek achha batsman aapke liye kisi match me run banayega, kisi match me nahi banayega, lekin ek achha fielder har match mein run bachayega”, meaning that in cricket, a bowler might take wickets, a batsman might score runs or get out, but a good fielder will always save runs for the team, highlighting the invaluable importance of good and fit fielders in a team. And when we think about the word fielding in cricket, there’s one name that pops right at the top of our minds, and that’s Jonty Rhodes. A brilliant man on the field, it was really hard for a batter to steal a run whenever the ball went in his direction. He was so agile and could take flying catches like it was a daily thing for him. It was his agility, his anticipation of the ball clubbed, and his absolute top tier fielding technique that made him a master of his craft, and arguably the greatest fielder of all time.

Jonty Rhodes taking a flying catch
Credit: Cricket Australia

In this article by ZAP, let’s know more about Jonty Rhodes, one of the greatest fielders of all time. 

Jonty Rhodes - Early life and Domestic Career

Jonty Rhodes was born on 27th July, 1969 (current age 54) in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, started his cricket journey at a tender age. A right-handed batsman known for his swift running and exceptional fielding, Rhodes was particularly renowned for his fielding skills, especially catching, ground fielding, and throwing from the backward point fielding position. In domestic cricket, Rhodes represented the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. He also played first-class cricket for Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, KwaZulu-Natal, Natal, and the Dolphins. Being a proficient middle-order batsman, he stood out for his ability to play spin bowling effectively.

Jonty Rhodes - International Test and ODI career

Jonty Rhodes batting in a test match
Credit: Wisden

Jonty Rhodes made his Test debut against India on 13 November 1992, at his home ground in Kingsmead, Durban. In his debut match, he scored 41 in the first innings and remained unbeaten on 26 in the second. He scored his first Test century during the first Test of a series against Sri Lanka in the 1993–1994 season. Batting on the last day, Rhodes scored an unbeaten 101 and, along with Clive Eksteen, salvaged a draw for South Africa. Rhodes retired from Test cricket in 2001 to prolong his career until the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. His final Test match was against Sri Lanka on 6th August, 2000, at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo. Despite scoring 21 and 54 in the two innings, Sri Lanka won the match by six wickets. Jonty made his One Day International debut against Australia in South Africa's opening match of the 1992 Cricket World Cup on 26th February, 1992. He didn't get a chance to bat but made an impact with his fielding, effecting a run out of Craig McDermott. He gained fame during the 1992 Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan. Rhodes' spectacular run out of Inzamam-ul-Haq is considered one of the most memorable moments of his career. Pakistan's innings faltered from then on, and South Africa won the match by twenty runs. On 14th November, 1993, Rhodes set a world record by taking five catches against the West Indies at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. Rhodes planned to retire from One-Day International cricket after the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. However, his tournament was cut short due to an injury in a match against Kenya. He dropped a catch, breaking his hand in the process, and was ruled out of the tournament.

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Jonty Rhodes - Stats, Runs and Centuries in International Cricket

Highest Score

Jonty Rhodes had a pretty decent international cricket career, scoring a total of 8467 runs with 5 centuries to his name across both Test and ODI formats. In Tests, he played 52 matches, scoring 2532 runs at a batting average of 35.66, with 3 centuries and 17 half-centuries. Rhodes was also an exceptional fielder, taking 34 catches in Test cricket. In ODIs, he was a solid middle order batter, playing in 245 matches and scoring 5935 runs at an average of 35.11, including 2 centuries and 33 half-centuries. His fielding ability was even more prominent in ODIs, where he took 105 catches. 

Jonty Rhodes Fielding - Best Catches and Runouts:

Jonty is undoubtedly one of the best fielders of all time in cricket history. His is also the first South African with 100 catches in ODI history. Here are the top 5 best fielding moments from Jonty Rhodes:

Jonty Rhodes iconic Inzamam Ul Haq Run- Out:

Jonty Rhodes became a fielding sensation after his unforgettable run-out during the 1992 World Cup match between South Africa and Pakistan. In the game, when the ball ricocheted off Inzamam-ul-Haq's batting pads and headed towards point fielding position, Inzamam took a few steps forward, thinking of a quick single. However, Rhodes, fielding at point, pounced on the ball like lightning. He swiftly grabbed the ball and sprinted towards the stumps. Inzamam, trying to return to his crease, found himself short of his ground as Rhodes, in a stunning display of athleticism, dived full-length and demolished the stumps. 

The unbelievable grab to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar:

One of Jonty Rhodes' most memorable fielding moments on the field came during ODI match between South Africa and India in 1997. Sachin Tendulkar, known for his brilliant off-side strokes, unleashed a powerful shot through the point region off a wide delivery. It seemed destined for a boundary, but Rhodes had other plans. With lightning reflexes, he dived to his left, almost parallel to the ground, and plucked the ball out of the air with both hands stretched above his head. Tendulkar, stunned by the unbelievable catch, had to walk back to the pavilion as Rhodes celebrated yet another incredible display of fielding brilliance.

A catch from heaven to dismiss Matthew Hayden:

In a match during a series in 2002, Matthew Hayden, known for his aggressive batting, was in full flow, punishing the bowlers with his powerful strokes. However, his inning was cut short by an extraordinary catch from Jonty Rhodes. Hayden smashed a wide delivery from Kallis towards the point, expecting it to race to the boundary. But with incredible athleticism, Rhodes leaped to his right and plucked the ball out of the air with just one hand. Hayden had to walk back to the pavilion, acknowledging that he had been outdone by one of the best fielders in the game.

Reaching the Century of Catches:

In the same game between Australia and South Africa in 2002, Jonty Rhodes achieved a remarkable milestone by taking his 100th catch in ODIs. The batsman, Damien Martyn, attempted to hit Makhaya Ntini through the point region, but with his lightning-fast reflexes, Rhodes dove to his right and grabbed the ball. Despite having very little time to react, Rhodes made the catch look effortless.

Decimating the West Indies batting lineup:

In a Hero Cup match against the West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium in 1993, Jonty Rhodes seemed to cover every inch of the ground, taking one stunning catch after another. Brian Lara was the first victim, caught by Rhodes as he dived forward to grab a skier. Phil Simmons was the next to go, caught by at mid-wicket with a brilliant one-handed catch while flying to his left. Anderson Cummins followed suit, dismissed by another stunning one-handed catch as he Jonty leapt to his left at point. Rhodes' fielding heroics didn't stop there; he took two more catches and made numerous fielding efforts during the entire match. His outstanding performance earned him the Man of the Match award, with five catches to his name and countless contributions in the field, decimating the West Indies batting lineup.

Jonty Rhodes - IPL and Coaching Career

After hanging his boots, Jonty decided to guide the youth about what he did best. He became the fielding coach of South Africa's national side. Until 2011, he was the Assistant coach of the Kenyan Cricket team too. In the IPL, he joined Mumbai Indians as their fielding coach. He switched sides in 2022 and joined  Kings XI Punjab as their batting and fielding coach, taking on the dual responsibility. Later, in the 2023 IPL season, he joined the Lucknow SuperGiants as their fielding coach. 


What is Jonty Rhodes' daughter's name?

Jonty has two daughter named India Jeanne Jonty Rhodes and Daniella Rhodes.

How many catches did Jontu Rhodes take in his career?

Jonty completed a total of 139 catches in his career across all test and ODI games he played.


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