Special Correspondent

Centurion: Jonty Rhodes has an interesting suggestion for livening up the middle overs in ODI cricket.

“All the Power Play overs, including the one by the batting side, should be taken by the 31st over. They could bring in this rule. This way you could have plenty of action between overs 20 and 30. And the last 20 overs are bound to be interesting in any case,” the former South African cricketer told The Hindu.

Rhodes welcomes Twenty20 cricket and says cricket’s latest version has brought new fans to the game. “A lot of families are coming to watch the game which is good. The stands are getting filled up in South Africa,” he says.

He adds, “Twenty20 has made the game faster. The batsmen are playing a lot more strokes and the standard of fielding has gone up.”

However, Test cricket remains the foremost form of the game for Rhodes. “You should not tamper with the rules for Tests. They should stay as they are. You ask any of the cricketers and they will tell you that Test cricket is the ultimate challenge. It is played over five days and tests the cricketers, both mentally and in terms of skills. Cricketers find out more about themselves in Test cricket.”

Asked whether the lucrative Twenty20 form of the game would lead to a conflict between representing the country or playing for greater monetary benefits, Rhodes replied, “I grew up wanting to play for South Africa and I am sure every kid would have that burning urge to play for his country. That is the ultimate honour. However, a cricketer will also think about his financial security. I am sure we can all find a balance.”

What were his views on England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff turning down a central contract? Rhodes answered, “He (Flintoff) has played in great pain for England. He has put his body on the line for his country, given it his all. If he wants to make the most of the last few years of his career, you cannot deny him that option.”

Rhodes expects the Champions Trophy to put ODI cricket on centrestage.

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