Ricky Ponting believes fielding should count as a discipline that counts towards qualification as an allrounder in cricket.
The Australian cricket legend, whose oracle-like commentary often makes watching cricket feel like a university lecture on the study of the game, first flagged the idea during his commentary in India for the World Cup last month.
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And he was compelled to go there again during the Sydney Sixers’ BBL win over the Melbourne Renegades on Friday night when star Sixers fielder — and accomplished middle-order batter — Jordan Silk, put on a show in the SCG outfield.
Silk has never broken through for an international game in any format of the game during his 11-year, 83-game first-class career. But he has long been viewed as one of, if not the best, fielders in the country.
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And in the game of inches that T20 is, the 31-year-old’s efforts patrolling the ground’s most dangerous boundary lines in the outfield can often be the difference between the two sides.
He was at it again on Friday night, making a number of freakish saves just inches from the rope, including a match-winning effort in the last over, all of which proved crucial in an epic eight-run win.
“This is the area of his game where you can’t really look at his average alone with the bat at the end of a season; you almost have to factor in (his fielding)… We’ll chuck another 10 runs per game on (his batting average),” Channel 7 commentator Alister Nicholson proposed hypothetically after Silk made one of his trademark saves.
Jordan Silk flew through the air to make one of his trademarks saves. Credit: 7Sport
Former Sixers bowler Trent Copeland said Silk’s fielding prowess is “not by accident, either”.
“These guys were out here last night, training under lights — and it’s not that common, actually. A lot of these guys don’t train under lights, catching balls,” he said.
“Jordan Silk, Sean Abbott, two of the best outfielders in the country, (were) out here for an hour, just doing that.”
It prompted Ponting, who captained Australia to 48 Test wins during a 77-match tenure in charge, to double down on the innovation he first tabled during the World Cup.
“I’ve got something I want to add about Jordan Silk with that as well,” Ponting said on Friday night.
“So, if I asked you guys to define an allrounder in the game of cricket, what would you say?”
Copeland answered: “Does at least two facets of the game at the elite level”.
“So, is he an allrounder?” Ponting asked of Silk.
“Yes, by that definition,” Copeland concluded.
Ricky Ponting believes elite fielders should be classed as allrounders in cricket. Credit: DARREN ENGLAND/AAPIMAGE
Ponting explained: “The absolute best fielders, I think, have to be defined as (allrounders). Because they’re adding so much more to the game, other than just their batting.
“A run-out or a great catch in this format of the game is quite often the difference between winning and losing.”
Copeland totally agreed with Ponting, who was a veteran in the Australian team during the former’s only three Tests of his career.
“It’s such a great point you make, and it’s also one of the misnomers about junior cricket and coaching — it’s just forgotten about,” Copeland said.
“It’s almost like, ‘I need to be the best batter, I need to be the best bowler’ — don’t forget it (fielding), because that’s how important it can be.”
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