England all-rounder Ben Stokes couldn’t have asked for a better start of his maiden World Cup campaign. A scintillating 79-ball 89 with the bat was later followed by two for just 12 in 2.5 overs with the ball. But a major chunk of his highlight of the day was underlined by a sublime catch he took on the boundary to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo off Adil Rashid’s delivery.
What made the catch more momentous was the fact that Stokes was literally running backwards. His effort, for all right reasons, was duly applauded by the cricket fraternities from all around the globe. As for the fans, this opened the debate whether his catch was the greatest of all time.
Well, we try to make life a little easy of all the fanatics out there. Here’s a list of five catches that were probably better than the Stokes attempt.
James Kirtley vs India (2002)
The NatWest Series 2002 was a treat for cricket fans, to say the least. The tournament produced a couple of breathtaking moments and one of it came is as early as the second ODI. India were chasing 272 against England and the opening pair of Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag got off to a brilliant start. At the end of the 17th over Indian had registered 108 for no wicket.
But as the plot thickened, India lost three successive wickets and went from 108 for no loss to 137/3. And the next victim was their captain, Ganguly. Facing Ashley Giles, the left hander hit the ball over the long-on in what many thought was a no man’s land. Little did they knew a certain James Kirtley was sprinting his way towards the ball. And as the ball was close to hitting ground, Kirtley dived with a full stretch and grabbed the ball in his left hand.
Shane Thomson vs Pakistan (1996)
New Zealand were up against Pakistan in the 1996 World Cup and a certain Shane Thomson, who hadn’t carried a fantastic repute due to his off the field antic provided the headlining act to the game. Off Robert Kennedy’s deliveries, Aamer Sohail hit the ball at the backward square leg and while everyone thought the ball would cruise over the fielders, Thomson rose as high to take an absolute blinder.
Kieron Pollard vs Australia (2013)
Back in 2013 in an away series against Australia, the home team was cruising to a comfortable 300-run margin with four overs still to go. Glenn Maxwell was on strike, facing Sunil Narine. Standing on the other side of the crease was George Bailey who had already hit the Windies’ spinner for 11 runs in three runs. On came Maxwell and hit the bowler up in the air. The shot had pure venom and the ball was making its way over the rope.
Pollard, out of nowhere, appeared in the mid-air like a falcon and caught the ball, leaving the spectators and the players absolutely star struck.
Jonty Rhodes vs England (1999)
It’s hard to pick the best catch out of Jonty Rhodes’ glorious career, but this one right here arguably remains one of the very best. Up against England in the 1999 World Cup, Rhodes was deployed at his favourite backward point. Despite the warning, England’s Robert Croft decided to craft an aerial square-drive, and the result… Well, it was exactly what everyone would have expected.
Paul Collingwood vs Australia
Mathew Hayden’s reaction after the incident perfectly sums up the brilliance of Paul Collingwood’s catch against Australia. Hitting a powered drive towards the backward point, everyone including the bowler, Steve Harmison, would have thought the ball would sail through the boundary rope. Collingwood, however, rose to the extreme to send the hard-hitting Aussie back to the pavilion.