I was watching an old game on tv and remembered how loose-limbed and energetic kapil dev remained for most of his career anywhere on the field. even though his pace and swing deserted him towards the end and his batting became more reckless than adventurous, his fielding skills never waned significantly. he was taking tough catches in slips, mid off and square leg 99 out of 100 times. his ground fielding was solid and, from the deep, he had a strong, accurate throw that the keeper could confidently expect to finish inches above the stumps.
good fielding seems to be a trait all great cricketers possessed. cricket being a side-on game in all departments, as bedi said, mastering either batting or bowling kind of gives you the confidence to be good at fielding I guess. even bradman and hobbs, not known to be great catchers, were excellent in point and cover, respectively, according to some accounts.
hammond was a champion in the slips; sobers, everywhere. gavaskar, the chappells and lara were among the best catchers of their eras. so are dravid, kallis and ponting. even among bowlers, trueman, warne and benaud were excellent catchers. joel garner was equally intimidating at gully as he was across the wicket. sachin, gower, murali and pollock were/are good fielders even if they didnt have the jonty rhodes touch all the time.
this seems to be true for all great cricketers except in the case of imran khan; the great khan who mastered every aspect of pace bowling to become an all time great and who worked very hard on his batting and converted himself into a mainstay of his team's middle order remained a mediocre fielder at best. what i remember of him at mid-on from his skippering days are some spilled chances, misfields and throws to the wrong end. he was, obviously, not downright crap but calling his fielding just unreliable is being polite. i nominate him to lead the dream xi of bonafide greats but mediocre fielders.
are there other greats of the game who sucked at fielding?