The end of the all-round fielder?
I am still reading
Mike Brearley's excellent book "The Art of Captaincy".
In a section on field placements, he talks about how Kapil Dev continuously used to ask India's slip fielders to stand a couple of steps closer to the batsman and reckoned that he'd missed out on quite a few wickets due to the fielders' reluctance to do so.
Kapil was a pretty handy slip fielder himself, frequently standing at 2nd or 3rd slip. Steve Waugh writes in his autobiography about his first test innings being cut-off by a superb catch by Kapil at slip.
But, there's more to Kapil the fielder. He was very good in the circle, whether at mid-off, cover, mid-on or mid-wicket. He was also a very good out-fielder with a very good and accurate throwing arm. Towards the end of his career, he probably pioneered the art of using the foot as a means of preventing the ball from crossing the boundary! :)
That set me thinking about other cricketers who I'd watched and were truly all-round fielders in my opinion. There's really just one criterion - you put them anywhere on the cricket field and they've excelled.
The only names (other than Kapil Dev) I can think of are Carl Hooper, Mark Waugh, Mohammad Azharuddin & Sanath Jayasuriya.
I've never really seen Viv Richards, Ricky Ponting or Paul Collingwood field in the outfield, so that's why they doesn't make the list. The argument against Jonty Rhodes, Andrew Symonds, Clive Lloyd or Herschelle Gibbs inclusion is that they haven't fielded at slip too often. Sachin Tendulkar would have made the list had he not missed so
many run-outs from mid-on or mid-off through the late 90s & early part of this century and not fielding at slip for nearly 7 years
In short, there's really no-one from the 'current' generation (despite Jayasuriya's status being unknown perhaps
) who'd qualify as an all-round fielder. Actually, the fact that there're so few names in the list is probably an indicator that we may have seen the last of this ilk.
Why's that the case when ODIs and T20 games don't really allow teams to hide fielders at 'safe' positions? So, if anything, there should be more all-round fielders now.