10Jonty Rhodes v/s England- 1998
Even if Jonty Rhodes was called as the Father of Modern Day Fielding, it would not be doing the great man any justice. Nicknamed as the ‘Maritzburg Mamba’, Jonathan Neil ‘Jonty’ Rhodes is one of the greatest, if not the greatest fielder cricket has ever witnessed. With the capability to fly in any direction towards an incoming ball, this humble man redefined the fielding for modern day cricket. Playing at those times when outfield players were not scorned upon if they tried to stop a potential boundary with their feet, Jonty was known for his alacrity and flexibility which made him instigate a huge number of run outs along with unbelievable catches. Every batsman was wary if a ball was hit in the direction of Jonty Rhodes!
Jonty Rhodes’ most memorable catch in the shorter version of the game comes during a Triangular tournament. The Emirates Triangular Tournament which was played in 1998 in England also happens to be the first time that ODIs were played in England in coloured clothing. The other team in the tournament was Sri Lanka who were the eventual winners. There were just 3 matches followed by a final in the tournament. Sri Lanka defeated South Africa in the first match by 57 runs despite half centuries from Symcox and Jonty Rhodes. In the second match, England defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs courtesy of a score of 86 from Greame Hick.In the 3rd match featuring South Africa and England, South Africa won the toss at Edgbaston and decided to bat first. They were able to post a decent looking score of 244 runs in 50 overs thanks to a quick 70 off 73 deliveries by Cullinan and a quicker 51 off 39 deliveries by Symcox. Though England did not get off to a flier, they managed to get 161 runs on the board at the loss of 3 wickets thanks to half centuries from Knight and Hick. After Nasser Hussain and Hollioake had both been sent to the pavilion, Robert Croft entered the fray. Michael Rindel was bowling his off-breaks when Croft decided to give himself some space to scoop the ball over short extra cover. Little did he realise that Rhodes was the man fielding there instead of his usual place at backward point. Croft hit the ball immaculately and must have thought it to be a certain boundary. But Jonty Rhodes leapt to his left and caught the ball with both of his hands close to the ends of his fingers. The catch was quite obscenely magical due to the fact that the distance to short extra cover is almost half of what it is to backward point but Rhodes was up for the challenge! South Africa went on to win the match but couldn’t qualify for the final due to a slow run rate.