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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fab Four will be difficult to replace, says Jonty - ‘I’ve never seen an Aussie team let opposition off the hook’

Mumbai: Jonty Rhodes, cricket’s original fielding king, has acknowledged India’s domination of Test cricket following their comprehensive win over Australia in Mohali, but foresees challenging times ahead for the team when the Fabulous Four hang up their boots.

The former South African player, in the city on a promotional visit, said that he was surprised by the way Australians had played in the two Tests and that, perhaps, there were a few lessons from their defeat for India as well.

“The proceedings in Bangalore were an indication of what was to come in the second Test. I have never seen an Australian team get ahead and then fail to finish it off,” Rhodes told reporters at the Cricket Club of India.

“In the last 10 years of my career, I have seen that whenever the Australians get ahead, they close the door on the opposition.”

The 39-year-old Rhodes, who represented South Africa in 52 Tests and 245 ODIs, praised the Indian team, particularly the fast bowlers, but also pointed out the contribution of the senior players.

“India have been always a formidable team at home and of late they have been producing results on tours also. And the Fab Four are getting better with age like old wine,” he said.

“They are a solid team now. My only concern for India is their seniors. What happens in one year when they leave and there is a void? As Australia have showed, you can’t replace experience.”

Nevertheless, Rhodes was all praise for the India’s frontline bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma.

“Indian fast bowlers are fast bowlers now. They are not there to take the shine off the new ball and make way for the spinners,” he said.

“Pakistan is known for producing genuine pacers who can do reverse swing. The Indians are getting that reputation.”

The man from Natal, who would soon be working alongside Sachin Tendulkar when he joins the IPL Mumbai team as fielding coach, was effusive in his praise of the Indian star who surpassed Brian Lara as Test cricket’s highest run-getter in Mohali.

“To have started at 16 and still be playing is an amazing effort. He has always scored runs, especially away from home, consistently. His record, both on and off the field, has been good. But I am not sure whether he would like me giving him the fielding drills,” he said with a mischievous smile.

Rhodes said the Indians should not go ga-ga over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy.

“Dhoni has captained the team for four and half days and everything he touched has turned to gold. But he could have had the Test backfire. It depends on how consistent he is in the long run,” he said.

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