The best fielder in the game's history was a Zimbabwean? (18 June 2001)
There are two candidates who immediately spring to mind in any
debate on the best fielder in the history of cricket. In the contemporary
game, there is of course the inimitable Jonty Rhodes.
But if you go back a few decades in history, you have the peerless Colin
Bland. Both South Africans, did you think? Not quite correct. Bland did
indeed play 21 Tests for South Africa but he was born in Bulawayo in what
was then Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe.
Bland's Test career for South Africa lasted just five years from 1961-66,
ending due to a knee injury which he sustained while chasing
a ball to the boundary against Australia at the Wanderers. He took
just 10 catches in 21 Tests but then he was more renowned for his
outstanding ground fielding at cover point and midwicket. Perhaps the greatest exhibition
of his sublime skills came at Lord's in 1965 when he ran
out Ken Barrington and Jim Parks in quick succession to alter the course of
the match and series which the tourists won 1-0. After
that as Colin Cowdrey says in his autobiography, MCC "as soon as
a shot was hit anywhere remotely in his direction, the ground rang
with two simulataneous shouts of 'No' and the batsman ventured not
a yard out of their crease". Bland was not merely a great fielder though,
averaging an impressive 49.08 with the bat, including three centuries.
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Results & Scores
Indians won by 10 wickets
Zimbabwe 'A' 103 (32.4 ov)
Indians 108/0 (17.0 ov)
of the fortnight
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