The Ten Commandments of Wicketkeeping - Part I
Just as all roles in life are governed by certain
norms and ethics, so do the duties of every member
of a cricket team. There is a set of 'commandments'
that each player is expected to follow. The
wicketkeeper is no exception.
The Ten Commandments of Keeping:
1) Concentrate, concentrate and concentrate.
2) Anticipate confidently.
3) Make sure your equipment is right.
4) Watch the ball.
6) Do not snatch at the ball.
7) Whenever possible, try to bring the body behind
8) Wear gloves that are big.
9) Point the fingers outwards and downwards.
10) Work hard to maintain a reasonable level of
to ensure that your reflexes and eyes remain sharp.
Let's focus on the first and most important
Concentration is just as vital for a wicketkeeper
as it is for a batsman. One mistake and you might
well lose a match for your team. Therefore, it is
vital that a keeper guards against lapses in
concentration. He should be able to concentrate
intensely, and for long periods.
New Zealand keeper
Brendon McCullum watches
Dravid play the sweep
Like the batsman, the keeper should start
concentrating on the bowler's hand as soon as the
latter begins his run-up. The intensity should
increase with every step, so that by the time the
bowler delivers the ball, his concentration is at
This helps the keeper to judge the length of the
ball, which way it is going, whether it will swerve
or swing, etc. Consequently, the keeper is able to
balance himself better. Keepers have to judge the
speed, direction, height, etc in a split-second.
Imagine you are keeping to a Shoaib Akhtar or a
Shane Bond, who are hurling rockets at around
100mph. A situation as challenging as this calls
for planning and anticipation. You need to have the
tenacity to implement your plans when the ball
flies towards you at that speed. You simply cannot
let your mind wander.
Lapses in concentration are more responsible for
ruining a wicketkeeper's career more than any other
reason. Several keepers have been found wanting
because of their inability to concentrate for long
periods with the required level of intensity. Any
cricketer can catch the ball. It does not require a
great skill. But the cricketer's
concentration-levels should be adequate enough to
anticipate and react quickly and correctly.
A strong mind that can help you overcome all the
odds is the key to your success as a keeper. How
else would you explain the success of Rahul Dravid
behind the stumps in ODIs? He wasn't a regular
keeper, and many people had advised him against it,
for they felt the additional responsibility would
have an adverse effect on his batting. But Rahul
did not listen to them and did the job manfully and
competently. The man is endowed with a vibrant,
dynamic and positive cricketing brain.
Concentration helps the keeper to overcome internal
disturbances and external hindrances. Each batsman
has his own ritual before the ball is bowled or his
unique brand of technique. Take a case of Brian
Lara. His backlift is such that the keeper's vision
is bound to be obscured. Sanath Jayasuriya's ritual
of touching the wickets an umpteen number of times
before facing the ball could also be a distraction.
The worst thing any keeper can do is continue to
think about an error he may have committed. Moping
about a mistake will only disturb his focus, and
before he realises it, he will have made another
The ability to anticipate is developed and honed
over a period of time. Everyone makes mistakes. But
the frequency of mistakes decreases as one gains
experience and confidence. Anticipation and
concentration is not confined to the line, length
and direction of the ball. It applies to the
batsman's strokes as well. A keeper can prepare
himself better and quicker for a possible chance if
he is able to anticipate the shot the batsman is
going to execute.
If a wicketkeeper's job is to be described in a
succinct manner, the word 'demanding' fits the bill
perfectly. But then, no individual can be forced to
keep wickets unless the circumstances are extreme.
It is a job a player gets into willingly, and
therefore he has to do justice to it. It is
difficult and quite exhausting to concentrate for
six hours. But the keeper has to psyche himself,
talk to himself, and do everything he can to keep
To be continued.
The Ten Commandments of
Wicketkeeping - Part II