Wicket-Keeping Through The Times

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Wicket-Keeper’ in a cricket context? Just an anchor role or one of the most crucial positions a player can step into? If you think of the former, then you are in for a crisp explanation regarding the essential nature of wicket-keeping.

The wicket-keeper in Cricket is a player from the bowling team who stands behind the wicket ready to take a catch, stump the batsman out or be ready for a quick run out. It’s also the sole position on the fielding team, permitted to don protectives.

The Revolution Sustained By the Role

Wicket-keeping is one of the most paramount jobs in a cricket team. Every team wants someone who has safe hands behind the wicket, as a single slip-up cost a team the match. A decent wicket-keeper also keeps the spirit of the playing eleven high by chirping constant words of encouragement to bowlers and fielders while occasionally sledging the batsman.

In the last two decades, the role of the wicket-keeper has undergone a sea change due to the endeavors of a few gentlemen who have redefined the art of wicket-keeping.

Today, wicket keepers are expected to be handy batsmen, a thought that emerged with the feats of Australia’s Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist was one of the most menacing batsmen for the Aussies in all formats of the game. He came in at number 7 in Test cricket and rescued his team from tight situations and succeeded in crafting victories with his clean and prodigious hitting. And which Indian can forget his prodigious spells as an opener in ODI cricket after the harrowing of the 2003 World Cup?

Going Down Memory Lane

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Jack Russell, former England wicket-keeper

In the 1970s and 80s, a wicket-keeper playing with a batting average of somewhere around the mid-20s and early 30s was fully excusable and accepted as “decent” and most wicket keepers had figures in that territory itself. That changed with the modern game. Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara and MS Dhoni completely revamped the role with stellar batting performances which put them firmly in the ‘Best in the World’ camp.

With cricket slowly but certainly turning into a batsman’s game, further expectations were set on the wicket-keepers. They were to do more. All due to the exploits of the wicket-keeper batsmen of the noughties.

The conjecture and beliefs for the new generation of wicket-keepers have been crafted by those years, where sure hands are expected, both behind and before the stumps.

A Modern Bent

In the present times, we’ve witnessed a bunch of teams going for batsmen who can keep wickets over wicket-keepers who can bat. AB de Villiers of South Africa is a prime example of this. Closer to home, KL Rahul has come out to shine in this role. Johnny Bairstow is another who has managed to slide into the English national side despite being far from the best wicket-keeper in the country.

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KL Rahul wicket keeping against Australia

The current decade has witnessed personalities like MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum, Brad Haddin, feature prominently amongst a rare breed of match-winning and aggressive wicket-keeping batsmen. If we check the batting averages of wicket keepers of different international sides in Test format, we can conclude that most of them average in the 40s or close to it, which is certainly a drastic shift from the mid-20s witnessed not so long ago.

To Conclude

It seems amazing that the role of the wicket-keeper continues to develop and mature far beyond what one would have thought when it was envisioned. However, as this happens, it is essential for cricket boards to remember that one cannot keep chopping and changing and compromising the primary function of a wicket-keeping.

Ultimately, “catches win matches”, and a responsible wicket-keeper will keep executing dismissals which a standard fielder cannot.

 

15 thoughts on “Wicket-Keeping Through The Times

    • November 13, 2020 at 9:54 pm
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      Well written 👍👍

      Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 8:32 am
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    Very well written & informative too.

    Reply
    • November 9, 2020 at 12:20 pm
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      thank you mam

      Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 9:18 am
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    Great going Vanshaj. Vocab is apt to the topic. You have the Calibre. Proud of you.

    Reply
    • November 5, 2020 at 3:47 pm
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      Well written. Good Job.

      Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 10:13 am
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    The article

    Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 10:14 am
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    The article on wicket keeper is superb.we get to know many new things

    Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 10:17 am
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    Well written 👍

    Reply
  • November 5, 2020 at 12:14 pm
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    Great Vanshaj superb article

    Reply

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