By Neville Grimmet
Jonathan Neil Rhodes, better known as Jonty, was born in Pietermaritzburg on the 27th of July 1969. Jonty, who has two brothers, grew up in a strict home, something he’s pleased about. “I don’t think I would the person I am today if it was not for the discipline in my home,” says Jonty.
Jonty was not only a whizz on the sports field but also excelled academically. He was in the B class for most of his schooling career but improved to an A pupil by the time he got to matric level.
Although it was cricket that shot Jonty to fame, the sport of kings was actually not his first choice. He loved playing soccer at school and wanted to play the game professionally except his mother was concerned about his health because he was an epileptic. Despite his parents’ fears for his health Jonty made his own decisions when it came to playing sport and always had the support of his family.
Jonty Rhodes took cricket fielding to a new level and was regarded as the best fielder in the world during his cricketing career. He covered ground incredibly quickly, using goalkeeper-like reflexes to cover his ground – in a way merging his two favourite sports.
Jonty shot to fame in the 1992 World Cup when he dived into the stumps ball in hand, to run out the Pakistani batsman Inzimam Ul-Haq. The photo was beamed around the world and used in countless adverts and made Jonty an overnight success.
Life for Jonty suddenly changed. It was interview after interview, jet-setting from one country to the next with cricket supremo Ali Bacher. “All of a sudden I found myself giving talks, going to conferences, overnight my life changed”, said Jonty. But as long as Jonty could do what he loved best, play cricket, he was happy.
Jonty did not see himself as just another fielder but viewed stopping a run as the most important thing he could do. Even on the practice field Jonty played as if he was in a match because he believed that “perfect practice makes perfect”.
Jonty Rhodes has seen four Cricket World Cups, something he had never thought possible. In fact, he
had not expected to play in a single match because of the threat of expulsion of South Africa from World Cricket due to the political situation in this country.
In the 2003 Cricket World Cup, a hand injury ended Jonty’s career. He retired from international cricket with record 2,532 runs in 52 tests and 5,935 in 245 one-dayers.
Although his retirement was not part of the script that he had envisaged for himself, Jonty sees his run in cricket as a blessing because when he left school in 1988 there was little hope of him playing.
Today Jonty is happily married with two kids, a girl Danielle (5) and son Ross (10mths). Jonty Rhodes has always been open about his faith and belief in God. “Without him I would be nothing, Jesus is my everything” he says.
Jonty’s favourite scriptures are Proverbs 18 verse 22 which states that if you find a wife you find a good thing (something his wife must surely be pleased about!) and Proverbs 3 versus 5 and 6.
Now at the age of 36, Jonty is enjoying life to the fullest as an Accounts Executive at Standard Bank and doing something he always wanted to do but never had time for…Surfing!
Image courtesy of Cricket Country