In Twenty20 the wicketkeeper is often considered to be a batsman who keeps his pads on while fielding. A stopper not a show stopper.
But in IPL 6, Dishant Yagnik showed the value of an athlete and technician as keeper.
Yagnik spent a lot of time standing back to the quick men. That is a skill that requires good hands and athletic movement. In match 8 for Rajasthan against KKR he showed these skills to dismiss the danger man Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir had walked down the wicket to force the pace, slashed at a wide ball outside off stump that flew at height to Yagnik's left.
The dive was timed to perfection.
He pushed off with his right leg generating enough force to take off.
All the while he tracked the ball path until he was sure he knew where it was going, catching the ball above his head. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of fielding. You can't watch the ball very long because it is over your head so you need to judge it's path early.
This kind of skill comes with a lot of practice at overhead catching, something many club and Academy keepers avoid. However, it's amazing what you can do with a willing team mate, a bat and a soft surface. Remember all keepers should stick to the golden rule of practice.
But the catch would have been worthless without the landing that followed. How many times do we see a fielder hold onto a diving catch only to see it pop out on landing?
Yagnik avoided that mistake with what looked like a well honed roll, dipping his body to land on his left shoulder.
In this diagram from Adrian Shaw's Wicketkeeping Tips eBook you can see the roll being executed in a similar way:
The impact was softened, the ball stayed in his hands and he avoided a potential jarring injury.
The catch is at the top of the page.
All these methods take work and practice to get right. Which is why a non-specialist will never be as useful to a team in Twenty20 as a good keeper. We can't all be sublime geniuses behind the stumps but every team needs a regular keeper and, if you are that person, you need to throw yourself into the task as much as you would your batting.
In a game where fielding is so important, there is no more important fielder on the park, so make sure you are the best you can be. IPL franchises know it, and so does your team.
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