On a tour of Pakistan, Lala Amarnath, who was there as a media professional launched me to Gul Mohammed, who had performed eight occasions for India earlier than migrating to Pakistan and taking part in there. “Greatest fielder,” mentioned Amarnath within the method he was well-known for, leaving it to the listener to fill within the particulars.
In the years that Indian fielders dropped catches merrily and sometimes let the ball slip via to the boundary, it was not tough to earn that sobriquet. Perhaps there was one sufficient fielder in each era, and he routinely certified as the best.
I didn’t inform Amarnath that, in fact. I used to be younger, on my first full tour and there was one thing about Amarnath — India’s first Test centurion and first captain of unbiased India — that saved such responses in verify.
In India’s first-ever Test at Lord’s, Lall Singh, in all probability the one Test cricketer to be born in Malaysia, ran out Frank Woolley to cut back England to 19 for 3 on the primary morning. In later years, Vinoo Mankad was a positive fielder off his personal bowling, and Hemu Adhikari earned a status as a high class cowl level. But it wasn’t till Tiger Pataudi — among the many best cowl factors within the sport — that India started to concentrate to this side of the sport.
“He was doing in the 1960s what modern fielders do as a matter of course now,” in response to Sunil Gavaskar. In South Africa, Colin Bland, who many take into account the best cowl fielder ever, informed me that Pataudi may need been higher than Jonty Rhodes “because his anticipation was superior”.
“I am fanatical in my demands for keen fielding,” Pataudi wrote. He informed his staff in England, “Although I want to see a smart turnout when we leave the pavilion, once the match starts I want to see a lot of grubby knees…if it takes four or five days to get your flannels cleaned, blame the laundries. I am prepared to put up with a scruffy looking team, but I will never permit scruffy fielding.”
The philosophy percolated down. Pataudi’s boys Ajit Wadekar, Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali, Venkatraghavan, Sunil Gavaskar all performed key roles as fielders in India’s maiden collection wins within the West Indies and England, though he was now not captain by then.
Fielding and health started to be taken critically by a staff that had bought off on the mistaken foot due to the angle of the Maharajahs who performed the important thing roles within the early years and possibly believed that operating was beneath them. They had been maybe irritated too by the actual fact they couldn’t ask their retinue of servants to do the job as a substitute.
The cricket historian Edward Docker summed up the early Indian strategy thus: “The deep field couldn’t be relied upon to walk in with the bowler. Fieldsmen failed to anticipate the ball. Or overran it. Or used their feet to stop it. The catching was poor, the throwing abominable…”
Writing within the Nineteen Forties, the journalist Berry Sarbadhikary mentioned, “Although homilies on the need for first-class fielding are indulged in freely by men in authority, it is the same persons who take the least notice of fielding ability when it comes to the actual selection…”
Watching Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli chase all the things and catch all the things immediately, it could be tough to imagine that India started as a staff that chased reluctantly and caught accidentally.
Emergence of fielding stars
Pataudi’s instance and angle modified all that. Brijesh Patel, who started his top quality profession in 1969-70 was nonetheless chopping off boundaries and canopy drives practically 20 years later by which period India’s most interesting all spherical fielder had emerged. This was Mohammad Azharuddin, as spectacular within the slips as he was within the outfield, his lithe kind including grace to his actions.
By then Kapil Dev had already exhibited his pure athleticism — he was an excellent catcher at gully, however was wanted to patrol the outfield the place his informal throws to the highest of the stumps had been a deal with.
India’s inventory grew in white ball cricket, and a bunch of fielders helped make that occur: Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Kaif.
Today it’s now not essential to ‘hide’ a fielder, as India had been as soon as compelled to do when gamers had been essential for one or two of three expertise, or once they had been chosen for causes aside from cricket.
The flat-footed was stationed within the slips with the prayer that no snick would go to him; or at mid-on hoping that an on-drive would possibly fortuitously be stopped by a boot or a knee.
The story of Indian fielding is the evolution from ten passengers (normally) in a staff to none in any respect. The Maharajkumar of Vizianagaram, who led on a tour of England, wouldn’t recognise this staff.