Fielding was my path of innovation, SA legend Jonty Rhodes tells Kerala’s startup community

Fielding was my path of innovation, SA legend Jonty Rhodes tells Kerala’s startup community

Thiruvananthapuram: South African cricket legend Jonty Rhodes literally had a field day in Kerala on Saturday as he addressed an energetic crowd of startup enthusiasts, drawing multiple parallels between the game he played and the world of entrepreneurship.

He said he honed his fielding skills which the cricketing world still celebrates as he was keen to do better than his teammates.

“My focus on fielding was rooted in my desire to do better than others on the field and that was an innovation that I brought to the team,” said Rhodes who is arguably the best fielder, the modern cricket world has seen.

Speaking at the Huddle Global 2023, Rhodes recalled many memorable moments from his cricket days to highlight the importance of practice, focus and innovation to young entrepreneurs at the event.

Referring to the most famous incident of an airborne Rhodes crashing into the stumps to run out Inzamam-ul-Haq in the 1992 World Cup, Rhodes said as his throwing was not accurate, he decided to dash to the stumps with the ball.

“As I neared the stumps, I realised I had to get there faster and just launched myself into the stumps. Almost every newspaper across the cricketing world had that picture on their front page and that really defined my career,” said the South African batsman.

He said he put in quality practice to perfect his fielding and his performance really changed the way the teams started looking at fielding as an equal component, like batting and bowling.

“I loved fielding and I would fling myself towards the ball even when it was nowhere near. My teammates used to call it “TV Dive” and pull my legs saying I was doing it so that my mom sitting at home could see more of me on the TV,” he said.

“But I never was afraid to try what others in the team never tried. So never be afraid of failures and what others think of your idea,” said Rhodes, adding one more piece of advice to the scoreboard of wisdom.

He also pointed out what unorthodox and bold ideas could disrupt the system by recalling the explosive opening pair of Sri Lanka, Sanath Jayasurya and  Romesh Kaluwitharana during the 1996 World Cup.

“Every other team stuck to the age-old method of building up the innings slowly by getting around 40 runs in the first 10-15 overs and then accelerating their innings later. But this Sri Lankan pair blew that strategy apart by attacking the bowling from the first ball itself. That strategy changed the nature of the game completely and they got the reward for their disruptive approach when they won the World Cup.”

He held out an example of former South African captain Hanse Kronje to underline the importance of power delegation. “Kronje was the captain but he left it to me to sort out the fielding department. He was a great leader and friend.”

Every single counts in a cricket match, and like that no trivial job is unimportant, said Rhodes, using a cricketing analogy to drive home another point.

Referring to the current World Cup, he played to the gallery saying he was wearing a blue coloured shirt to show which teams he favours.

“As South Africa is not in the final, I can boldly declare who I am tipping to win the final,” he told to a round of cheers from the crowd.

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