Five of world cricket’s most underrated fielders
With standards in cricket getting better with each passing day, the fielding excellence of certain players hasn’t been discussed enough over the years. Rupin Kale looks at five such underrated fielders.
123 matches, 88 dismissals, 0.564 dismissals per innings
While KL Rahul has doubled up as a wicketkeeper whenever required, 67 of his 88 fielding dismissals have come as an outfielder. A quick, agile fielder who looks ready and aware all the time, Rahul has rarely been seen dropping a catch in national colours. In fact, the only Rahul ‘drops’ that come to mind are the half-chances he might’ve missed at short leg over the years.
His keeping abilities might make him a strong catcher in the circle, but he is an excellent fielder on the boundary too, plucking out catches out the air and saving runs for his team. With prominent names such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja in the same team, Rahul’s fielding acumen is often out of the limelight. However, he remains one of India’s most reliable fielders, be it inside or outside the circle.
Stunning effort by KL Rahul! Spectacular fielding!! #INDvENG #TeamIndia #KLRahul #NarendraModiStadium @klrahul11 @JayShah @BCCI @GCAMotera pic.twitter.com/r2ZRegHpxt
— Dhanraj Nathwani (@DhanrajNathwani) March 13, 2021
250 matches, 222 dismissals, 0.693 dismissals per innings
Steve Smith, who was brought into the Australian setup as a legspinner, soon took giant strides with the bat to become one of their greatest batsmen of all time. Between that, his fidgety technique and his captaincy stint, his legacy as a fielder might not have been discussed as much over the years. However, Smith remains one of the best fielders in the world currently. The excellent hand-eye coordination, which is essential to his batting style too, adds to his abilities as a fielder, particularly with his run-out and direct-hit skills.
Smith is also an excellent fielder at the ropes. In the early days of his IPL career, Smith made waves with his ridiculous fielding efforts at long-on and long-off for Pune Warriors India. His batting ability was explored only later, in his stint with the Rajasthan Royals.
Happy birthday Smudge!
To celebrate his 31st birthday, have a look back at some of the finest catches @stevesmith49 has taken in his career in Australia. pic.twitter.com/4x3jegkanv
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) June 2, 2020
198 matches, 86 dismissals, 0.328 dismissals per innings
Easily one of the best fielders among contemporary bowlers, Trent Boult is an absolute livewire in the field. While his catching is particularly impressive, it’s his incredible ground fielding that sets him apart from the rest. Boult’s run, dive, pick-up time and throw stand among the best in world cricket at the moment. Additionally, his calm demeanour and razor-sharp focus give him an edge in the field. New Zealand players often find themselves out of the limelight, and Boult, who is a spectacular bowler, often falls under the radar as a fielder. Given his skills though, it’s clear that he takes it just as seriously as his bowling.
373 matches, 153 dismissals, 0.298 dismissals per innings
James Anderson might have debuted in the early 2000s, but his fielding was definitely made for modern-day cricket. Another fast bowler who is always alive on the field, Anderson is one of the players who have raised and sustained high-fielding standards in the current England set-up for years. Since fast bowlers run in and tire themselves more than anyone else in the game (particularly in Tests), they are usually given positions that might not involve a lot of reflex reactions. Players such as Anderson and Boult, however, are exceptions to that norm.
Anderson is often seen inside the circle, picking up low and quick catches and even turning half-chances to spectacular takes. Like his bowling, Anderson’s fielding has evolved over the years while still remaining on top of his game and crucial to England’s chances.
99 matches, 48 dismissals, 0.475 dismissals per innings
In the past, Pakistan players might not have consistently ranked among the best fielders, but Fakhar Zaman flies right past the trend. One of the most dependable fielders in the current Pakistan setup, Zaman brings energy and reliability to the side on the field. He is nimble on his feet and has a very safe pair of hands, particularly at the boundary ropes. Zaman was named PSL’s fielder of the season in 2020, which showed that even during a poor run with the bat, he remains an asset on the field.
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