DateLine: 5th May 2006
Pakistan has hired former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes to boost its squad's fielding skills ahead of an important tour of England, officials said Friday.
"We have finalised the hiring of Rhodes as fielding coach for two weeks and he will be arriving in early June," Pakistan Cricket Board director Abbas Zaidi told AFP.
Rhodes, 37, played 52 Tests and 245 one-day internationals and was regarded as one of the world's best fielders during his career, which ended after the 2003 World Cup.
Cricket fans here still remember the image of a leaping Rhodes in the 1992 World Cup in Australia running out Inzamam-ul Haq -- who is now Pakistan's captain.
Former greats Imran Khan and Javed Miandad have previously criticised Rhodes's hiring and questioned the role of current coach Bob Woolmer.
But Zaidi defended the move, saying the former South African star would add "inspiration value" to the team.
"A team like Australia had hired a baseball coach to help improve their fielding... so there is no harm in having a fielding coach," Zaidi said.
"Rhodes is a highly respected name at international level because of his fielding and will be a great inspiration to all the youngsters and other players," he added.
"Our fielding has been a weak link. Our players don't have the habit of diving because of the hard ground here. So Rhodes would definitely be a source of great help."
Rhodes becomes the fourth South African to join Pakistan's technical staff after Woolmer, trainer Murray Stevenson and physio Daryn Lifson.
Pakistan, despite their improvement at international level, are widely regarded as one of the weakest fielding sides in the world.
Pakistan play four Tests and five one-day games on their tour of England beginning in late June. The first Test starts at Lord's in London from July 13.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)