Sweden sign up former SA star Rhodes in bid to build cricket

·2 min read
Former South African Test cricketer Jonty Rhodes (left) has years of international coaching experience to bring to Sweden
Former South African Test cricketer Jonty Rhodes (left) has years of international coaching experience to bring to Sweden

Former South Africa Test player Jonty Rhodes has been appointed as Sweden's head coach as part of plans for "growth and development" of the game, the country's cricket federation announced on Thursday.

"Swedish Cricket Federation to invest in junior cricket, high performance and growth through the appointment of South African cricket great, Jonty Rhodes as head coach," said the federation's statement.

Rhodes, who played 52 Tests and 245 ODIs for the Proteas, averaged over 35 with the bat in both formats and is regarded as one of the greatest fielders ever to play the game.

Since retiring from playing, Rhodes, who also played hockey for South Africa, has been a fielding coach for the Proteas as well as for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

"I am really excited to relocate to Sweden with my family and work together with the Swedish cricket community," said the 51-year-old, currently in Dubai ahead of this year's delayed IPL. 

"This opportunity has come at a perfect time and I am grateful to be able to invest my energies in a completely new environment. I can't wait to get started."

The Swedish federation said cricket was the second-fastest growing sport in the country, seeing a 300 percent increase in participation over two years.

"Our growth targets and key areas are directed toward junior cricket and high performance," said Benn Harradine, sports director of the Swedish Cricket Federation.  

"Jonty will play a pivotal role in lifting our players as well as assisting in securing quality coaching framework for the future sustainability of the game." 

Rhodes will start his job in mid-November.

While Sweden have never featured strongly in the cricket world, the game has long been played by Scandinavian neighbours Denmark.

Several Danes have progressed to first-class cricket including Ole "Stan" Mortensen, who spent 11 years with Derbyshire, and Copenhagen-born Amjad Khan who played for Kent and Sussex as well as one Test for England in 2009. 

Another Scandinavian player, Buster Nupen, who was born near Alesund in Norway, played 17 Tests for South Africa between 1921 and 1936.

jw/bsp/mw