One of the best sights in cricket is witnessing a the bowler taking a return catch. Many say it is the true test of a cricketer’s reflexes as one has only a split-second to follow the ball’s trajectory before sticking out their hand. On Monday, Nathan Lyon’s effort to send Moeen Ali packing was widely tipped by pundits and former cricketers alike as one of the best ever seen.
The Australia off-spinner dived full length to his left (his weaker hand) to latch on to a ball that was struck fairly hard by the batsman. Mitchell Starc followed it up with an excellent take of his own minutes later to leave the English in dire straits.
There were many more such efforts in the years gone by. Not surprisingly, Australia and New Zealand dominate the list. No place for former West Indies spinner Roger Harper, who was undoubtedly one of the best fielders the game has seen.
Brett Lee left no stone unturned when the ball looped up anywhere close to him. It is incredible considering that the pacer has to catch his breath after steaming in at 150 km/hr on a regular basis. Here, the two-time World Cup winner showed outstanding athleticism during the 2005 Ashes to cover twenty meters before lunging forward and holding on to the ball, one handed.
Former Australia spinner Greg Matthews may perhaps be the greatest of his own bowling. It didn’t matter how hard the ball was struck, Matthews was always on the prowl, perhaps summing up how brave he was. Krishnamachari Srikkanth is one of the cleanest strikers and the ball was travelling fast and low. To top it, the former India opener had stepped out. Truly a remarkable take by Matthews.
Lyon has also been on the receiving end of of a great return catch. Corey Anderson, in his short career, has already plucked out a few mind-boggling ones off his own bowling. New Zealand were clearly down and out here after being batted out of the Test by Steve Smith and Adam Voges. On his wrong side, the Kiwi all-rounder dived low and made it look as though he could pull something like this in his sleep.
Who would have thought Rohan Gavaskar would find a place here? This superlative effort may well be the single most greatest achievement in his brief international career. After setting Australia a steep target of 304, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke were steadily cranking up the pressure. Gavaskar’s catch to dismiss the former brought India back in the game, and set the tone for a memorable 19-run win at Brisbane. Don’t miss the elation of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid following the dismissal. Fast forward to 3.11 minutes for the catch.
If Shane Bond didn’t trap you leg-before or send your stumps cartwheeling, he would get you out by snaring out-of-the-world catches. Little does one expect gangly pacers to turn out to be extraordinary fielders. Cameron White found out the hard way and was left shaking his head in disbelief after his crisp straight drive only went as far as Bond’s massive palm. Diving sideways, full stretch, the Kiwi showed exemplary agility.
This remarkable take by Mitchell Johnson was not too dissimilar to Lee’s show of athletic genius off Strauss. Alviro Petersen top-edged a bouncer, and the left-armer was off in a flash and just about managed to shield the ball with his palms before it hit the ground. Australians continue to set the standards off their own bowling.
It doesn’t matter where Trent Boult fields, wowing spectators with blinders is something that the Kiwi left-armer has made a habit of. Be it fielding in the boundary, gully or elsewhere, you can be assured that there is little that gets past Boult. Social media was flooded with “Is this this a bird, is this a plane...” references after putting some top-level gymnasts to shame with this catch to send Mitchell Marsh making the long walk to the dressing room.
UPDATE: Boult does it again!
On Sunday, December 10 – against West Indies – Boult did it again with an absolute stunner.