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Top 32 Best Fielders in Cricket History: Jonty Rhodes, Paul Collingwood…Can You Guess The Rest?

by Aug 22, 2020World XIs - With Twists

Photo of Jonty Rhodes, one of the best fielders in cricket history, if not the greateset.

Who are the best fielders in cricket history? Today, we answer that exact question.

Discussing the best fielders in cricket history is hardly a debate. Jonty Rhodes is the best cricket fielder of all-time, with Paul Collingwood, Ravindra Jadeja, Andrew Symonds, Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum, AB De Villiers, and Herschelle Gibbs coming close behind.

There have been plenty of great fielders in cricket—Great slip catchers, forward short leg specialists, direct hitters, etc. Today we create a list of 32 best cricket fielders of all-time and produce a modern day XI comprising of just fielding legends. Here is a quick preview of the Top 32 Cricketers of All Time (by country): India surprisingly makes #1 with 9 best cricket fielders of all time, South Africa with 6, Australia with 5, and New Zealand with 4 in the best fielders in cricket history list.

Best Fielders in Cricket History (By Country)

CountryNumber of Players Players
South Africa9Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Eknath Solkar, Kapil Dev, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin
India 6Jonty Rhodes, AB De Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Colin Bland, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis
Australia5Ricky Ponting, Steven Smith, Andrew Symonds, Glenn Maxwell, Mark Waugh
New Zealand4Martin Guptill, Trent Boult, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor
West Indies3Kieron Pollard, Roger Harper, Gus Logie
England2Paul Collingwood, Ben Stokes
Sri Lanka2Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene
Pakistan1Shahid Afridi

Today’s Twist – Best Fielders in Cricket History Who Can Form a Playing XI

Suresh Raina’s retirement received numerous tributes, especially on his fielding. In a conversation with Harsha Bhogle, Raina was asked from a list of 10 great fielders, which 5 would he choose to field in the inner circle.

This inspired us to do another post on World XI: With Twists, this time made up of the best fielders in cricket history.

Create a World XI consisting of the best fielders in the modern game. The twist is that these best fielders should be able to play together in a match. Hence, we need to have at least one player who could also be a wicket-keeper (2nd skill) as well as five players who could bowl, preferably two fast bowlers.

There have been numerous wonderful fielders in the past, so to narrow our search, we also have the following constraints:

  • We limit our XI to the past 30 years. Players like Roger Harper or the great Eknath Solkar at short leg are in our extended squads.
  • We make a distinction between fielding and catching. Fielding consists of direct-hits, diving stops, and acrobatic catches. Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, and Jacques Kallis have stellar records as catchers and are in the extended squad.
  • Specialist wicketkeepers like Adam Gilchrist and Mark Boucher are not considered. However, AB De Villiers, Brendon McCullum, and Dravid are considered since they regularly played both roles.

Catches Win Matches

There have been several middle-order batsmen with great fielding skills, but then who would bowl? We would love to stack our line-ups with the great South African and Australian batsmen, but we need to keep the balance of the side in mind.

Best Fielders in Cricket History: Modern Era

Here is our XI. We have an XI consisting of 3 Australians, 2 South-Africans and Kiwis, along with 1 player each from Sri Lanka, India, England, and the West-Indies.

We have a left-arm pace bowler (Boult), Collingwood and Pollard with their medium pace dibbly-dobblies, Jadeja the left arm spinner, and Symonds/Dilshan contributing part-time off spin overs. AB De Villiers will keep the gloves. I would love to have Herschelle Gibbs or Mohammad Kaif in my XI—a useful lower order batsman, but then we would have to either drop a wicket-keeper or a bowler.

1. Martin Guptill (New Zealand)

Martin Guptill is known for his incredible fielding skills, which include taking diving catches, running out opponents and snatching boundary catches. He was also the hero of several match-saving moments like his direct hit against MS Dhoni in the 2019 Cricket World Cup Semi-Final. His ability to play any position on the field, combined with his quick reflexes, make him one of the best fielders in the world.

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2. Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka)

Tillakaratne Dilshan is known for his brilliant fielding skills, especially at the backward point position, where he frequently takes catches and bowleds as well as diving saves. His quick reflexes are what makes him one of the best fielders in the game.

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3. Ricky Ponting (Australia)

Ricky Ponting, the pillar of Australian national cricket team, was known for his stellar fielding skills, especially in the mid-on and mid-off positions. He was capable of taking direct hits and making spectacular run outs with accurate throws from any part of the field. His hat-trick of run-outs against South Africa in a Test match in 2006 is one of the best examples of his fielding prowess. He was also capable of taking catches and saving boundaries with ease. His ability to read the game and anticipate the play ensured that he was always in the right position when it mattered.

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4. Steven Smith (Australia)

Steven Smith’s fielding skills are often overlooked due to his batting prowess. He is a brilliant fielder and takes one-handed diving catches with ease, especially at the 2nd slip or backward point position. His agility and quick reflexes have made him one of the best fielders in cricket and he has pulled off some stunning catches over the years.

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5. Jonty Rhodes (South Africa)

Jonty Rhodes single-handedly revolutionized fielding, with his diving catches and direct hits becoming the stuff of legends. His amazing reflexes combined with his agility made him one of the best fielders in the game. He was capable of taking spectacular catches at backward point or third man, making running run-outs almost effortless and snatching direct hits while everyone else could only watch in awe. He was truly a master of his craft and the perfect example for modern fielders to look up to. He has left an indelible mark on the game with their sublime fielding skills. He will always be remembered as the best fielder in cricket history.

South African national team will forever be indebted to Rhodes for establishing the fielding legacy that is now associated with them.

Has there ever been anyone better than Jonty?

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6. AB De Villiers (South Africa)

  • Fielding Position: 2nd/3rd Slip, Wicketkeeper, Backward Point
  • Known For: Acrobatic Diving Catches
  • Cricket Fielding Videos:

The Proteas have another great fielder in Ab De Villiers. He is an all-rounder, known for his acrobatic diving catches and incredible reflexes. His ability to take spectacular catches at 2nd/3rd slip, wicketkeeper and backward point made him a vital part of the South African team’s fielding unit.

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7. Paul Collingwood (England)

Paul Collingwood deserves a mention as one of the best cricket fielder the world has ever seen. His exemplary fielding skills at backward point made him an invaluable asset to the English team over the years. He was known for his incredible reflexes and acrobatic one-handed diving catches, like the famous Matthew Hayden catch during an Ashes series.

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8. Andrew Symonds (Australia)

  • Fielding Position: Short Cover/Short Mid-On, Short Mid-Off
  • Known For: Direct Hits
  • Cricket Fielding Videos:

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was a brilliant fielder in his own right. His fielding prowess at short cover/short mid-on, and short mid-off positions was legendary, known primarily for his direct hits. He had an uncanny ability to anticipate the play and execute perfect run-outs even from seemingly impossible situations.

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9. Ravindra Jadeja (India)

No list of the best fielders in cricket is complete without Ravindra Jadeja. The all-rounder from the Indian cricket team has been a vital part of their fielding unit since his debut, known specifically for his rocket throws from backward point and direct hits. From Indian Premier League to international cricket, he has made his name with fielding heroics.

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10. Kieron Pollard (West Indies)

Kieron Pollard is one of the most athletically gifted fielders in cricket. His ability to take boundary-rider catches, or pull off one-handed dives to save runs has been a key part of West Indies’ fielding display over the last decade. Former captain and a retired international now, he can play with freedom for the rest of his career.

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11. Trent Boult (New Zealand)

Trent Boult is a valuable asset to the New Zealand cricket team. His fielding skills at boundary and cover point are remarkable, known for taking sensational catches on the ropes or sprinting back from deep mid-wicket for spectacular one-handed grabs. He has also taken some of the greatest caught & bowled wickets in recent years as well.

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Best Catches in History of Cricket (Video)

Before we move on to the rest of the 21 best cricket fielders, do check out this video.

Top 20 Cricket Catches

The Squad – Best Fielders in Cricket History of All-Time

*Note, this squad is in no particular order since judging fielding standards is quite subjective.

12. Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)

One of the most memorable fielders in cricket, Brendon McCullum is a special mention for his superhuman fielding skills. His catching ability at cover-point and wicketkeeping was second to none. He was known for taking amazing diving saves in tight situations, no matter how hard the ball was hit, making him an outstanding ground fielder. One of the most charismatic cricket personalities at the Brisbane Cricket Ground in the Big Bash, India in the IPL, and back at home as captain.

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13. Mohammad Kaif (India)

  • Fielding Position: Backward Point/Cover, Long On/Long Off
  • Known For: Revolutionizing India’s fielding standards
  • Cricket Fielding Videos: Mohammad Kaif

Mohammad Kaif was one of the most important fielders for the Indian team and his contribution towards revolutionizing their fielding standards will always be remembered. His ability to take catches at backward point, cover, long on, or long off were exemplary. His catch diving over Dinesh Mongia against Pakistan in 2004 still gives me chills.

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14. Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa)

Yet another South African cricketer in the list. Herschelle Gibbs was a brilliant fielder during his playing days and his name is still remembered for his outstanding run-outs and diving catches. He was known for taking some spectacular catches at backward point or cover, and then there were the run-outs which helped South Africa win many important matches. One of the most electric fielders in the history of cricket.

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15. Colin Bland (South Africa)

  • Fielding Position: Cover
  • Known For: “Speed, Balance, and exceptional throwing arm”

According to ESPNCricinfo, Colin Bland “will go down in cricket history as one of the greatest cover fielders.”

*Colin Bland was born in Zimbabwe (then, Rhodesia) but played Test cricket for South Africa.

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16. Suresh Raina (India)

Also Read: MS Dhoni and SK Raina Retire: An End of An Era

The former Indian cricketer, Suresh Raina is remembered for his energy and enthusiasm on the field. He was the perfect example of how a fielder should be. His catches at backward point or cover are still talked about, particularly those sensational one-handers which he made look so easy. His quick reflexes at short mid-wicket made him a valuable asset to the Indian team.

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17. Glenn Maxwell (Australia)

The Aussie all-rounder, Glenn Maxwell is an outstanding fielder and has pulled off some miraculous catches and saves in the deep. His passion for the game and his high energy levels on the field make him a fan favorite. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest modern-day fielders in cricket history.

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18. Yuvraj Singh (India)

  • Fielding Position: Backward Point
  • Known For: Along with Kaif, changed the look of India’s fielding
  • Cricket Fielding Videos:

Another Indian international cricket on the list, Yuvraj Singh will always be remembered as a great fielder alongside Kaif & Raina. He was an exceptional fielder at backward point and his catches were often described as ‘effortless’. His fielding contributed to many of India’s victories.

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19. Roger Harper (West Indies)

The former cricketer from West Indies, Roger Harper was known for his direct hits. Another gem in line of West Indian legends.

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20. Eknath Solkar (India)

  • Fielding Position: Forward Short Leg
  • Known For: One of the Greatest Short Leg fielders
  • Cricket Fielding Videos:

The former Indian cricketer Eknath Solkar was one of the greatest short leg fielders in the world. He was an outstanding fielder at the forward short leg position. He is remembered as one of the finest.

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21. Virat Kohli (India)

  • Fielding Position: Cover/Mid On/Long on/Long off
  • Known For: Low-Diving Catches, Energy on the field
  • Cricket Fielding Videos:

The former Indian captain, Virat Kohli needs no introduction. He is probably the most complete cricketer in the world right now and an outstanding fielder to add to it. His low-diving catches, quick reflexes and athleticism are unmatched. Probably the greatest ODI player, the Indian international cricketer is an inspiration to many aspiring cricketers out there.

Also Read: Virat Kohli’s 25 Best Innings Across International Formats (RANKED): Mohali 2016, MCG 2022, Hobart 133*, Adelaide 141…Which One is Your Favorite?

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22. Faf du Plessis (South Africa)

The former South African cricketer, Faf du Plessis is world-renowned for his boundary saves and acrobatic catches. To be able to take those seemingly impossible catches without any effort, he will be regarded as one of the excellent fielders of the era.

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23. Gus Logie (West Indies)

Gus Logie was an outstanding fielder at the forward short leg position. He would be placed directly at the batsman’s feet and this would make it difficult for them to get past him.

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24. Mark Waugh (Australia)

The former Australian national team cricketer, Mark Waugh was an excellent fielder. He was known for his diving catches at the slip and cover positions.

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25. Kapil Dev (India)

The former Indian captain, Kapil Dev was known for his running catches at the square leg position. He was an outstanding fielder and had a great eye to judge where the ball was going. His catch in the 1983 World Cup final has gone down as one of the best ever seen on a cricket field.

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26. Shahid Afridi (Pakistan)

  • Fielding Position: Mid Off/Long Off/Long On
  • Known For: Running Catches
  • Cricket Fielding Video:

The former Pakistani cricketer, Shahid Afridi was an excellent fielder at mid off, long on and long off. He had the ability to judge the flight of the ball accurately and take running catches. One of his most memorable catches was the 2009 T20 World Cup where he took a spectacular catch diving forward.

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27. Ben Stokes (England)

The current English cricketer, Ben Stokes is an outstanding fielder. He has the ability to take one-handed catches at the boundary and deep cover positions with ease. His unbelievable catch against South Africa during the 2019 World Cup is one of the best ever seen in cricket history. Nasser Hussain’s “You Cannot Do That, Ben Stokes” captured that moment vividly in history.

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Best Slip Fielders in History of Cricket

28. Rahul Dravid (India, 210 Test Catches)

Rahul Dravid was the first cricketer to 200 Test catches. He was well renowned for his slip-catching ability, regularly taking catches with both hands in the most difficult of positions. He set a benchmark for others to follow and is one of the greatest ever slip fielders. He also lead India numerous times, as a captain, fielder, and the unbreakable Wall. Now, Team India’s current coach.

Also Read: Rahul Dravid Biography: What Dravid Taught Me

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29. Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka, 218 ODI Catches, 205 Test Catches, 17 T20I Catches)

Mahela Jayawardene is the most prolific fielder across formats.

He holds the record of 218 ODI catches, 205 Test catches, and 17 T20I catches. He was an outstanding fielder at the slip with a safe pair of hands. Jayawardene set the benchmark for modern day cricket in terms of fielding in all three formats.

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30. Jacques Kallis (South Africa, 200 Test catches)

Truly an all-round cricketer. Kallis was a fine fielder at the slip position and holds the record for most catches taken by a South African cricketer in Test cricket – 200. He took some outstanding catches during his illustrious career and is one of the best slip fielders ever.

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31. Mohammad Azharuddin (India, 156 ODI Catches)

3rd highest ODI catches was taken by Azhar.

He was also an accomplished batsman in international cricket and captained India for a period for a better part of the decade.

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32. Ross Taylor (New Zealand, 142 ODI Catches)

Southee & Boult were a prolific ODI bowling pair with safe hands at slip. 4th Highest ODI catcher of al-time.

Also Read: Ross Taylor, An Underrated Cricketer Who Was A Giant Among New Zealand’s Greatest Generation

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Honorable Mentions: Yajurvindra Singh, Alastair Cook, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Jimmy Anderson, Stephen Fleming

Cricket Philosophy: T20 Cricket Has Helped Improve Fielding Standards

Ever since T20 cricket came into existence, there has always been a debate between Test vs T20— traditional vs newer ideas.

I think there is space for both formats to coexist. Regardless, the one benefit from 21st century technology and T20 cricket is the focus on fitness. In a fast-paced T20 game, a run-out or diving save can change the outcome of the match.

Therefore, we have witnessed a large number of incredible efforts on the boundary in recent years. Fielding is no longer an ‘extra’ skill—it is now the norm.

Anyway, slightly older video, but I am going to leave you with few of the best catches in cricket below. Enjoy, SUBSCRIBE, and comment below who your favorite fielders/ best fielding memories are.

Also Read:

Best Fielders in Cricket History – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is the best fielder in cricket history?

Jonty Rhodes from South Africa is considered the best fielder of all time in cricket.

Who are the Top 5 fielders in cricket history?

Jonty Rhodes (South Africa), Paul Collingwood (England), Andrew Symonds (Australia), Ricky Ponting (Australia), and Herschelle Gibbs (South Africa) are considered the Top 5 cricket fielders in the history of the game.

Which fielder has the most catches in Test match cricket?

Rahul Dravid (210), Mahela Jayawardene (205), Jacques Kallis (200), Ricky Ponting (181), and Alastair Cook (175) took the most catches in Test match cricket.

Which fielder has the most catches in ODI cricket?

Mahela Jayawardene (218), Ricky Ponting (160), Mohammad Azharuddin (156), Ross Taylor (142), and Sachin Tendulkar (140) has the most catches in ODI cricket.

Who was the best cricket fielder in the slip position?

Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, and Jacques Kallis are considered the best slip fielders of all-time.

Who was the best cricket fielder in cover position?

Colin Bland from South Africa is considered the best fielder in the cover position.

Who was the best cricket fielder in the forward short-leg position?

Eknath Solkar from India is considered to be the best fielder in the forward short leg position.

Sources: YouTube (Videos) Image Courtesy: JontyRhodes8 JontyRhodes8 / CC BY-SA, (Featured Image) – Paul Venter via CC SA 3.0

© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2022. Originally published on 08/23//2020, updaged on 12/30/2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).

3 Comments

  1. JustCricket

    My favorite fielder is Paul collingwood

    Reply
    • Nit-X

      Definitely! His Mathew Hayden catch is probably the best catch of all time.

      Reply
      • JustCricket

        Yes definitely

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