Former South Africa cricketer Jonty Rhodes on Thursday said fielding standards of the Indian team have improved drastically but they still need to work on their agility and lateral movement.
“The Indian players have got fitter, but they can still improve on their agility. We grew up in South Africa playing multiple sports. All these sports made me the fielder I was. Fielding is also about lateral movement, I don’t think the Indians are yet at their best in that,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of a surfing event in Chennai.
“Throwing is something we don’t focus a great deal on as a coach. We are more worried about a guy catching or stopping the ball. When you are saving a run, changing your direction is very important. These are areas where India can still improve.”
Talking about India’s fielding at the World Cup, Rhodes said: “India had a very good catching percentage at the recent World Cup but I still think they could be taking more catches. Every team has its own players who don’t contribute much in the field. Work can still be done with them. It’s not that they aren’t doing well, but there are certain things you can tweak.”
Rhodes was an aspirant for the Indian fielding coach job but missed out to incumbent R Sridhar. “Fielding is a habit. If it’s working, then don’t fix it. Even though India has improved its fielding drastically over the last few years, there are some elements I can bring to the table,” he said.
South Africa will be touring India in October for a three-Test series, which is part of the World Test Championship but Rhodes feels the Proteas will not be able to fair any better than the 0-3 defeat that they suffered in their previous tour of India in 2015.
“The Indian team has had a lot of success. The team that has a happy dressing room atmosphere often converts that into winning ways on the field. You need the personnel, but you also need a good environment. SA is kind of yes or no right now,” he said.
“Having played in the IPL, a few of the SA players are comfortable with the sub-continent. It’s not much of a unit that’s coming here. When the chips are down, you need the dressing room to stand up first. With the kind of results India has had at home, I don’t see much of a change to the scoreline,” he added.
Rhodes said the South African team is going through a transition with some big names retiring and like Australia it would take some time to become a strong team again.
“South Africa hasn’t had ABD (AB de villiers) for a year already and (Dale) Steyn has been in and out because of injuries. Amla unfortunately wasn’t in the best form in the last 18 months. SA has relied heavily on them. You can never replace players like de Villiers and Steyn.
“In India, incredible players come through the ranks. SA, may be, doesn’t have that exposure. The jump from state to international cricket is quite a big one for them. They (SA) are going through a growth phase, it is tough,” he said.
Rhodes picked New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and India’s Ravindra Jadeja among the best fielders currently.