Jonty Rhodes misses out on India job, Prasad defends decision

Fielding great Jonty Rhodes not only missed out on the job but also did not even feature in the top three recommendations made by the selection panel.

Fielding coach R. Sridhar (c) along with Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun and Umesh Yadav during a practice session. (File Photo)   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

The cricketing world rates Jonty Rhodes as one of the trendsetters in fielding. Having played international cricket for nearly two decades for South Africa, Rhodes is believed to have changed the common perception about fielding in modern day cricket.

So, when the 50-year-old had thrown his hat into the ring for the position of India’s fielding coach and even presented a road map to the MSK Prasad-led selection panel via Skype a couple of days ago, there were expectations that he could soon be seen helping out Virat Kohli and his men.

But, Rhodes not only missed out on the job but also did not even feature in the top three recommendations made by the panel.

While R. Sridhar was chosen as the top candidate, Abhay Sharma and T. Dilip were the other two options.

Defending the decision, Prasad said that the panel was convinced with the skill sets of Sridhar.

“R. Sridhar is supposed to be one of the best fielding coach in the world today, he is one of the best fielding coach. Unfortunately in the World Cup you saw there were wicket-keepers in the side, the combinations were like that. But, he has transformed this team into a wonderful fielding unit so, so there is no second though with regard to R Sridhar,” Prasad said.

“Ideally, if you look at number one choices, I think we have seen all aspects like conflict of interest, they will be taking their jobs. There is no point in looking at second and third positions. We don’t see Jonty fitting in there, because those roles are more for India A level and NCA,” Prasad said.

'India's fielding has improved immensely'

Despite being rejected for the job, Rhodes took the decision sportingly. “I am in Chennai now (for the Kovalam surfing festival). It would have been good place to celebrate with surfing and food, had I got the job. But now that, I have not got the job, it is a great place to feel sorry,” a witty Rhodes told Sportstar on Thursday.

He, however, lauded Sridhar for transforming India’s fielding unit. “If you look at India’s fielding, it has improved immensely. It did not happen by chance, but it was because of the hard work put in by the coach (Sridhar). He has done a good job,” Rhodes said.

“There were indication that if (Ravi) Shastri retained his job of head coach, they (most of the support staff) would stay on, except the batting coach. That’s what has happened, but Sridhar has done a great job,” Rhodes said.

After quitting international cricket, he had worked with the South African team and was also part of Mumbai Indians for nearly a decade. It was mainly because of him that Mumbai Indians emerged as one of the best fielding units.

However, for the selection panel, Jonty's credentials did not matter much as it kept faith in the ‘tried and tested’ Sridhar!