Keeping wickets to fast bowlers - Part II
The wicketkeeper's technique is a critical aspect
while keeping to fast bowlers, probably as, if not
more important than the mental aspect.
If the keeper has got most things right; his feet
are in line, he is well-balanced, he has
anticipated the path and height of the ball, has
got his body behind the ball and is concentrating
well, what should he remember while catching the
1. Not to flinch.
2. Keep the fingers pointed outwards.
3. Not to 'attack' the ball.
4. Keep calm.
The keeper should not try to 'snap' at the ball. He
should remember that he is trying to catch a
cricket ball and not kill a mosquito or catch a
fish! If he does this, the chances of his dropping
the chance increase, as does the risk of sustaining
a finger injury. Misjudging the flight of the ball
even slightly is sometimes enough to have a finger
Ian Healy (left), Australia's legendary
in action. Behind him is
former Australia captain
Keepers need to get into a rhythm. This means that
it is not so much necessary to practise catching
balls hit as fast as a bullet, than to work on the
correct movement of the hands and feet. The keeper
should certainly make diving reflex catches a part
of his practice session, but these diving catches
should not dominate the practice session
One of the best ways in which a keeper can develop
his technique is by taking a golf ball and bouncing
it off a wall, so that it comes to him on the full.
The keeper can wear inner gloves for this unique
method of practice. He should not go out of his way
to give himself difficult catches by bouncing the
ball off the wall at different angles, or throw
hard so that the ball rebounds to him like a
bullet, but concentrate more on catching the ball,
imagining that it is a cricket ball. This method
will make it easier for him to visualize his
sideways movements, technique, assess the way the
ball is coming into the hands, and in the process,
rehearse one's balance and rhythm.
This method will be a lot more effective in
improving his focus and concentration than having
someone hitting 100 catches to him. The advantage
of this method is that the keeper does not require
someone else to help him out by giving catches or
retrieving the ball. He can concentrate on bringing
his gloves together and ensuring that his feet are
moving in the right manner, without worrying about
injury. There is no way he can get injured by a
For fast bowlers who specialize in bowling
inswingers (to right-handed batsmen) that dip
outside the leg stump, the keeper should be able to
pick up the flight early and observe what the ball
is doing. He should move to the leg side and get
himself in the correct position to take the ball
cleanly. This will give him the margin to move even
further to the left to take the ball, if it is
deflected by a snick or any part of the batsman's
Don Tallon, the Australian keeper of Bradman's era,
was brilliant at this. He often went so far to his
left that he took the ball on his right side. But
he held many catches on his left, which other
keepers would not have reached.
A wicketkeeper's greatest assets are energy,
strength and enthusiasm. He should be ready to go
for everything, be it a possible catch, a swinging
delivery by the bowler or a return from the deep.
"Hesitation", for him, should be an alien word.