The Wicketkeeper's Wardrobe
Wicketkeeping is synonymous with a fair bit of
'wear and tear', considering that the 'stumper' is
the busiest of the 13 players on the field. His
teammates can afford to relax and 'take it easy'
from time to time, but the wicketkeeper doesn't
enjoy the same privilege. He is supposed to crouch,
jump, run, and dive all the time, not to mention
appealing and motivating his teammates! His hands,
which are being 'battered' virtually every ball of
the match, are especially vulnerable to injury. He
catches the ball if the batsman leaves it alone,
clasps edges that come his way, and collects
returns from the fielders, some of which are quick,
Then, there is his back, one of the most critical
parts of a sportsperson's body. Constant crouching
and rising tends to take its toll. However, the use
of proper equipment and clothing, coupled with a
good technique, can reduce the risk of injury.
What should a wicketkeeper's wardrobe contain?
Shoes, socks, trousers, pads, jockstrap, box,
shirt, sweater (if required), inners, gloves,
cravat, headgear and a woollen pad to cover the
Inappropriate equipment and ill-fitting clothes
should be avoided at all times.
Brand-new wicketkeeping gloves should not be used.
Lest the readers misunderstand, it needs to be
clarified that they should be made 'supple' before
use. This can be done by placing them on turf and
pounding them repeatedly with a bat. Another method
is to wear them and then thump the fist in the
center of the other glove. This will help make them
more flexible. It will become easier to wrap the
fingers around the ball.
Regular wicketkeepers do not need to wet their
inner gloves, as regular use makes them supple
through the moisture secreted by the palms.
However, occasional keepers, who may be doing the
job once a week or fortnight, must wet the inners
to prevent them from becoming completely rigid. To
protect the fingers, the keeper should bind each
finger-joint with Elastoplasts. If he suffers from
bruised finger-joints, he should replace the
Elastoplasts with electrician's tape. If the center
of his hand gets bruised, he should place a piece
of plasticine over the bruised area.
The shoes should be light to ensure free and
unrestricted movement. They need not have heels, as
there is no pressure on them when he is in action.
Woollen socks help cushion the feet and absorb
perspiration. In fact, some keepers wear more than
one pair to increase the cushioning effect and help
'sock up' the moisture, especially when it is hot
and the surface is hard.
The keeper's trousers should have extra room around
the backside, so that he can have freedom of
A keeper should never take the field without
wearing an abdomen guard. A cricket jockstrap with
the pouch to keep the 'box' is an absolute must.
The leg-guards should be light and pliable.
Nowadays, keepers wear knee-high pads. Unlike the
past wherein they wore batting leg-guards, the
modern wicketkeeping-specific pads are more
comfortable, in that the keeper finds it easier to
fling himself around and even upwards to intercept
rising deliveries bowled by pacemen and 'take'
wayward returns from the deep. The flipside is that
these pads tend to expose the knees and lower part
of the thighs when the ball is keeping low and the
keeper is 'standing up' to medium-pacers. However,
there are very few keepers who actually 'stand up'
these days, even to bowlers who are not all that
quick, and so there is very little chance of this
The keeper's shirt should fit him perfectly. It
should accommodate his moving arms and allow him to
crouch comfortably. The shirt must fit neatly
around the waist, so that it does not emerge
'untucked' from trousers whenever he jumps or
dives. The shoulders should have plenty of room.
In chilly conditions, the keeper must wear a
short-sleeved sweater. There is always the danger
of the breeze cooling the perspiration on his back,
which could lead to back trouble. To guard against
this, the keeper could wear a square woollen pad on
the back. The wool will absorb perspiration and
prevent it from cooling.
When the heat is unbearable, a cravat knotted at
the front will help the keeper avert the danger of
sunstroke. The cravat also prevents perspiration
from running down the neck. Many keepers are
distracted by sweat on the neck. They mistake it to
be a fly or insect and end up committing an error.
To protect his scalp from the sun, the keeper
should wear a cap or floppy sun-hat. Nowadays of
course, many keepers wear a helmet while keeping to
Wicketkeepers should be fastidious about their
equipment. They have to, for only then can they
think in terms of having a prolonged, relatively