Mandhana, Rodrigues, Deepti among the best fielders in the world, says Biju George
Biju George has rated India’s fielding technique “above any side in the world” and lauded Jemimah Rodrigues, Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma’s for the high fielding standards.
“If you ask me technique-wise, our girls are among the best in the world. We have the best outfielders like Jemimah and Mandhana,” said George, who was India’s fielding coach from 2017 to 2019.
“Mandhana is an outstanding fielder. I remember Jemimah's catch in South Africa. It was rated the best ever catch in Indian women's cricket. She took the catch of Marizanne Kapp at the boundary ropes. The way she leapt and grabbed that stunner was amazing.”
“We have players like Deepti Sharma, who collects the ball and throws (quickly). She can throw flat from the boundary ropes. Indian have experienced players in Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj. They are veterans of the game. I have hardly seen Jhulan Mithali and Harmanpreet drop catches. They have really safe hands.”
India’s fielding left a lot to be desired when they took field against South Africa in March for five ODIs and three T20Is in Lucknow. The hosts were returning to action close to a year after they played their last international – the T20 World Cup 2020 final.
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George opined that South Africa had the advantage of having had played a limited-overs series at home against Pakistan earlier in the year.
“South Africa came off a series. They had a lot of match practice,” said George, who was the fielding coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2020.
“Our cricketers didn't have any match practice. You need to have match practice ahead of a series. Because of the lockdown and the fast-spreading COVID, it is difficult to practice outdoors.”
“A number of good fielding sessions and match practice will help our team. That's the way to look forward."
India are set to fly to England next month for a multi-format tour. They will play a Test in Bristol before playing the three-game ODI and T20I series there. That will be new Head Coach Ramesh Powar’s first assignment in his second stint with the national side, having replaced WV Raman.
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“The USP of Ramesh is he is very specific, very meticulous and he is like a hands-on guy,” said George, who has worked with Tushar Arothe, Powar as well as Raman.
“We were together in the Sri Lanka series and the (T20) World Cup in the West Indies. Raman sir keeps a relaxed atmosphere and he keeps motivating the players. He injects positivity in a player and always says 'you are the best'. I am sure Indian team will have a great time with Ramesh.”
“All three have different styles of coaching and all are efficient coaches.”
George’s contract with the team expired in December 2019 after which it wasn’t renewed. However, the 55-year-old said that he is ready to be back with the national team again, if given a chance.
“If the BCCI will give me an opportunity, I will be ready. I really had a good time and (it was a ) learning experience with the women's team. It was my best-ever experience,” he concluded.