How Jonty Rhodes Inspired A Generation Of Cricketers To Improve Their Fielding Exactly 27 Years Ago

Superman might be overrated, but Jonty Rhodes is for real!

Fielding is one of the most important aspects of cricket. Taking a brilliant catch, making a runout or even saving a single run can shift the course of the match, and at times, even turning it upside down. That’s why modern-day cricket focuses a lot on improving fielding standards.

In the 90s, only a few teams like South Africa, New Zealand and Australia were considered the best in terms of fielding. Afterwards, some players started a trend to innovate that spread like wildfire among other teams and became the reason why we witness such breathtaking fielding efforts. One such player was Jonty Rhodes — arguably the best fielder at point position in the history of cricket.

The match –
On March 8, 1992, the 22nd match of World Cup 1992 was played at the Gabba, Brisbane. It was a crucial fixture for both South Africa and Pakistan as the knockouts were near. After scoring a modest total of 211 for 7 in the first innings, South Africa saw a sliver of hope as rain interfered with the proceedings.

Pakistan were cruising towards the target and needed to score at a Required Run Rate (RRR) of 4.9 in 29 overs. But after the rain-laden clouds played their part, the match suddenly tilted towards the Proteas as Pakistan needed to score at 8.5 runs per over in 14 overs after adjusting the required target via Duckworth-Lewis method.

Inzamam’s usual mistake –
Pakistan had to rely on Inzamam-ul-Haq to deliver. Inzamam had already scored 48 runs off 44 balls, putting on 85 runs for the third wicket. The game seemed to have been balanced as Pakistan needed 59 runs in less than five overs but Rhodes was yet to make up for his less-than-ordinary 25-ball 5 innings.

Things changed in the 31st over when Inzamam played down the wrong line, trying to go for a big shot. The ball ended up hitting him on the pads and there was an appeal for leg-before-wicket (LBW). Inzamam tried to sneak a single but it created further confusion with non-striker Imran Khan.

Inzamam was not known for his quick reflexes, especially running between the wickets. Meanwhile, Rhodes was quick to get the ball which was not dead yet. Inzamam could not turn quickly and soon enough, had to race against Rhodes to get back to the crease. Surprisingly, Rhodes decided not to go for a direct hit but to jump towards the stumps, uprooting them from the ground.

Since then, Rhodes’ giant leap of ‘run out’ has been etched in every cricket fan’s memory. However, he did not rest after the runout and took an astonishing catch to dismiss Ijaz Ahmed.

Rhodes’ fielding exploits lifted South Africa’s spirits as they made the Pakistanis surrender in the death overs. They won the match by 20 runs as Pakistan suffered a batting collapse, losing 6 wickets in a matter of just 36 runs.

International Cricket Council (ICC) Twitter page shared the video of the runout as well —

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However, Pakistan did manage to win the 1992 World Cup, clinching their maiden title as South Africa were eliminated in the semi-final. However, Rhodes’ ‘Superman’ runout is considered as one of the most talked-about moments of the tournament.