Every wicketkeeper should strive to minimise his
mistakes and ensure that he has more good days than
ordinary. Although it is a thankless job, there is
no doubt that the wicketkeeper is by far the most
important member of the fielding side, for it is he
comes into contact the maximum number of times with
the object that makes all the difference between
victory and defeat the ball.
Adam Gilchrist in the thick of thing...
THE GLOVES - BIG ENOUGH FOR THE HANDS:
A GOOD VIEW OF THE BALL:
Let's take a look at the next installment of the
'commandments' that govern the art of wicketkeeping:
For a keeper, his gear is his most precious
possession. It need not necessarily be new or
branded. What is important is that it should be
comfortable, and allow the keeper to move quickly.
There is no point in equipping oneself with stuff
made by renowned manufacturers, in which one feels
uncomfortable and virtually immobile. A brand-new
pair of keeping gloves is hard and stiff. The ball
tends to bounce out of gloves that are hard. Hence,
the gloves need to be soft and pliable. The
leg-guards are also a key component of a keeper's armour. They shouldn't make the keeper feel that he
is carrying an additional burden.
A keeper's hands are his warheads. These warheads
merit proper maintenance. Gloves that are bigger
than the hands give the latter 'breathing space'.
They also help to keep the palms soft and loose,
which in turn leads to more effective catching.
Keepers should place the little finger of one hand
on its counterpart. This will minimise the number
of drops wherein the ball goes through the palms.
The keeper should be standing in a position that
allows him a good vision of the ball. He should at
no time take his eyes off the ball. Although the
ideal position varies from individual to
individual, the preferable approach is to mark a
line on the off-stump line, and stand with the left
foot on the line. This is what a keeper could do
when a right-hander is on strike. He should do
exactly the opposite when a left-hander is batting.
This position will facilitate steady and smooth
movement on both sides of the wicket.
It's critical to balance the body-weight equally on
both legs. If there is a difference in the weight
on the legs, the keeper will have to transfer it
from one leg to another while he is moving. That
might delay his reaction by a few moments, and this
could prove costly. A keeper should be well
balanced before the ball arrives.
ANTICIPATION AND CONFIDENCE:
Cricket, it is said, is all about anticipation. The
same holds true for keepers. A keeper will find it
difficult to collect half-chances or even
regulation catches if he is finding it difficult to
anticipate the bowler's move or batsman's stroke.
The ability to anticipate can give him tremendous
confidence, which will in turn affect his all-round
game. After all, 90 % of the game is played in the
NO SNATCHING AT THE BALL:
One of the biggest sins that a keeper can commit is
to snatch at the ball. In all probability, the ball
will bounce out of the gloves if he does so. The
palms should be soft and move in the same direction
as the ball. The keeper should allow the ball to
settle in his palms before he releases it or
executes a stumping. He should wait till it
BODY BEHIND BALL:
Not all pitches are consistent in pace and bounce.
Most Test pitches tend to behave unpredictably at
some point in a match. This causes problems not
only for the batsmen, but also the wicketkeeper. He
has little time to judge the height of the
approaching cherry. Hence, it is all the more
important to get the body behind the ball. Even if
he fails to catch it, he will be able to stop it.
It can be demoralising for a bowler who is giving
it everything to see the ball go past the keeper
for extras. On the other hand, he will be heartened
if the keeper manages to stop the ball, in the
knowledge that his colleague is not giving away
generous donations to the opponent
FINGERS FACING DOWNWARDS AND OUTWARDS:
It is essential to avoid injuries, whether minor or
serious. Pointing the fingers outwards or downwards
will reduce the chances of injury to a great
extent. In case of a misjudgement, there is a
greater chance of the fingers getting injured if
they are turned towards the ball. Hence, the
fingers should be pointed downwards or outwards
LIGHTNING REFLEXES, SHARP EYESIGHT AND STAMINA:
This commandment has more to do with the
individual's physical responses than any other. A
keeper can hone these skills by following certain
training regimes. Practising alone with a golf ball
helps improves reflexes. Running will increase
For a wicketkeeper who adheres to the 'ten
commandments' and sticks by them, even the sky is
not the limit!