Tuesday 25 March 2014 

Is Wicket-Keeping Easy To Master?

Prasanna Jayawardene
Prasanna Jayawardene (left), one of the best wicket-keepers in international cricket
© REUTERS / Action Images

It's much easier to teach a good batsman to be a competent keeper, than to teach a good keeper to be a competent batsman.

Wicketkeeping is Easy

It's much easier to teach a good batsman to be a competent keeper, than to teach a good keeper to be a competent batsman.

At its core wicket-keeping is about a skill most cricketers can perform: catching the ball. It's a task that is made all the easier by gloves. Someone with a good pair of hands could do a competent enough job. You couldn't say the same about an opening batsman or swing bowler.

For these reasons the more specialist keeper has vanished from the game. All first-class wicket-keepers these days must be able to bat. The simple truth is a decent batsman who can catch can do the job.

Keeping is a calling

While these points are valid, they do miss a key element: You have to be prepared to do it.

Keeping wicket is difficult both physically and mentally. It's hard work crouching and concentrating on every ball of an innings. Not everyone has the mindset. It's a calling for the slightly crazy ones.

The skills of wicket-keeping get easier the more you practice them, so players need to be nailed down as keepers early so they can keep their standards high. This is especially true of standing up to the stumps. If you keep, always look to find someone to help you practice.

Another reason why it's only for certain personality types is that the keeper is undervalued in a team.

They only get noticed when they make a mistake. Unlike runs or wickets there is no strict measure of success for a wicket-keeper. Wicket-keeping is a skill anyone can perform but few bother to master (what's the point if you don't get much credit).

What do you think?

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