Jonty Rhodes: Mumbai Indians’ IPL victory was a team effort

Mumbai Indians’ fielding coach, Jonty Rhodes, said that the team won the Indian Premier League title because every player contributed.

When not involved with cricket, Jonty Rhodes keeps himself fit by surfing — a sport he has learned to love post retirement.   -  PTI

Veteran cricketer Jonty Rhodes believes Mumbai Indians' (MI) team effort helped it to clinch the Indian Premier League (IPL) title this season.

"What made the Mumbai victory special was that not one player was the top of the runs, top of the wickets etc. This was a complete team effort. Different players at different times performed and took the team home. Even the way we won the final... It was a low-scoring game. Sure, we had to have a man of the match, but it wasn't one player who was outstanding through out. Everybody performed and that sums up the season for MI — consolidated effort by team," said Mumbai's fielding coach, who was in Mangaluru to promote the Indian Open of Surfing.

The former South African middle-order batsman, famous for his extraordinary fielding, also gave his backing for the Twenty20 format of the game, which has come under scrutiny for being too batsman-friendly.

"Twenty-over cricket, some purists will say, is not the real form of the game but the intensity that you play — batting, bowling and fielding — makes every ball count. And that's where you want to see good fielding. You might want to try and hide one or two players, but in T20 there is no place to hide. Ball finds you," said Jonty.

Jonty, who according to many revolutionised fielding in the modern game, feels the improvement in today's fielding as compared to his times, is just a natural progress that every sport has to make to survive.

"If you don't change you are going to get left behind. Today there are three disciplines in cricket for sure — batting, bowling and fielding. And not just in T20. In Test cricket, in ODI... they are all saying catches win matches and that's true. When you play on a wicket that is flat, one good run-out, one good chance that you convert make a very difference to the fielding team. In the fielding point of view, never before have we had to defend the boundary like we have to do. The likes of Keiren Pollard, Martin Guptill... some of the catches these guys take are amazing where they pull it in. That's an area [where it has improved]. I've only fielded in the circle, never had to go out. So its good to see that the game has evolved," he said.

When not involved with cricket, Jonty keeps himself fit by surfing — a sport he has learned to love post retirement.

"I had seen surfing on TV and after I retired from cricket that was the kind of fitness I was aspiring for. I like to stay outdoors and be active, and surfing is something I enjoy doing. I only started surfing once I retired and that is a pity, because I've been to India, Australia, Sri Lanka and all around South Africa during my playing career and never once hit the water," he said.

Jonty is a common figure in the Indian surfing scenes and has always been a big promoter of the sport in the country.

"It was Paddy Upton, who was associated with Delhi Daredevils and Indian cricket team, who brought us here and introduced us to the Mantra Surf Club and the Surfing Federation of India because to create any publicity you must involve cricket here. Surfing is not something I'm very good at but something I am very passionate about."

The South African prefers to surf in India because the long stretch of coastal areas offer solitude unlike other countries with a similar geography.

"In India not all local people are surfing. Nor are there tourists. To surf you can go to Australia, Bali, Indonesia... but those places you will find a lot of local surfers. I've been working as a tourism ambassador for South Africa, taking Indians there, but now the South Africans, after seeing my Facebook posts, want to come here for the waves. This will aid in boosting India's economy and moreover, I love the sport and would like to do whatever I can to promote it," concluded Jonty, before getting geared up to hit the waves.

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