Harman Patil (Editor)

Wicket keeper

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Wicket-keeper

The wicket-keeper in the sport of cricket is the player on the fielding side who stands behind the wicket or stumps being guarded by the batsman currently on strike. The wicket-keeper is the only member of the fielding side permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. The wicket-keeper may also wear a helmet with a mesh face guard to help protect from injury.

Contents

It is essentially a specialist role. The role of the keeper is governed by Law 40 of the Laws of Cricket.

Stance

Initially, during the bowling of the ball the wicket-keeper crouches in a full squatting position but partly stands up as the ball is received. Australian wicket-keeper Sammy Carter (1878 to 1948) was the first to squat on his haunches rather than bend over from the waist (stooping).

Purposes

The keeper's major function is to stop deliveries that pass the batsman (in order to prevent runs being scored as 'byes'), but he can also attempt to dismiss the batsman in various ways:

  • The most common dismissal effected by the keeper is for him to catch a ball that has nicked the batsman's bat, called an edge, before it bounces. Sometimes the keeper is also in the best position to catch a ball which has been hit high in the air. More catches are taken by wicket-keepers than by any other fielding position.
  • The keeper can stump the batsman by using the ball to remove the bails from the stumps, if the batsman is out of his crease after a delivery has passed the stumps into keeper's hands. The keeper must then dislodge the bail(s) and the batsman is out, if he is still outside the crease.
  • When the ball is hit into the outfield, the keeper moves close to the stumps to catch the return throw from a fielder and, if possible, to run out a batsman.
  • A keeper's position depends on the bowler: for fast bowling he will squat some distance from the stumps, in order to have time to react to edges from the batsman, while for slower bowling, he will come much nearer to the stumps (known as "standing up"), to pressure the batsman into remaining within the crease or risk being stumped. The more skilled the keeper, the faster the bowling to which he is able to "stand up", for instance Godfrey Evans often stood up to Alec Bedser.

    Wicket-keeping is a specialist discipline and it requires training consistent with the level expected of a specialist batsman or bowler. However, the modern-day keeper is also expected to possess reasonable batting skill, suiting him for the middle order at least. They typically bat at number 7 in first class cricket. Wicket-keepers who are also capable of batting at the top of the order are known informally as keeper/batsmen and is more typically seen in limited overs cricket.

    Since there is only room for one keeper in a cricket side, selectors (especially at the international level) are often faced with a difficult choice between two or more skilled keepers. Often, one of the two keepers is an exceptional keeper, but only an average batsman, whereas the other is a keeper/batsman who is clearly better at batting, but not quite as good a keeper as his rival. One such selection dilemma was that faced by England selectors in the 1990s between Jack Russell (the pure keeper) and Alec Stewart (the keeper/batsman). They were never able to consistently choose between the two until 1998, when Russell began to fade: prior to that, they had regularly swapped the role, often with Stewart maintaining his place when not wicket-keeping thanks to his batting skill.

    The keeper may also have a captaincy role. Uniquely, they are usually involved in every delivery of an innings, and may be in a position to see things that the captain misses. They can frequently be heard encouraging the bowler, and may also indulge in the practice (not meant to be overheard) of "sledging" the batsman with well timed comments about their skill, appearance or personal habits. The Indian wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni is a notable wicket-keeper captain who captained India in 331 matches across three formats, next best being Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh.

    The keeper is the only fielder allowed to touch the ball with protective equipment, typically large padded gloves with webbing between the index finger and thumb, but no other webbing. The protection offered by the gloves is not always adequate. The England keeper Alan Knott sometimes placed steaks inside his gloves for added cushioning. Wicket-keepers also tend to wear leg pads and a box to protect the groin area.

    Wicket-keepers are allowed to take off their pads and bowl, though this rarely happens but is not uncommon when matches are drifting to draws or a bowling team is desperate for a wicket. Two keepers have removed their pads and taken hat-tricks in first-class cricket: Probir Sen for Bengal v Orissa at Cuttack in 1954–55 and A.C. (Alan) Smith for Warwickshire v Essex at Clacton in 1965; Smith was a most unusual player in that he was primarily a wicket-keeper, but was sometimes selected as a frontline bowler.

    Legal specifications of wicket-keeping gloves

    Law 40.2, which deals with the specifications for wicketkeepers' gloves, states that: If,.... the wicket-keeper wears gloves, they shall have no webbing between the fingers except joining index finger and thumb, where webbing may be inserted as a means of support. If used, the webbing shall be:

    (a) a single piece of non-stretch material which, although it may have facing material attached, shall have no reinforcements or tucks.

    (b) such that the top edge of the webbing-

    (i) does not protrude beyond the straight line joining the top of the index finger to the top of the thumb.

    (ii) is taut when a hand wearing the glove has the thumb fully extended.

    Substitutes

    According to Law 2 of the Laws of Cricket, a substitute (taking the place of an ill or injured player) may not keep wicket.

    This rule is sometimes suspended, by agreement with the captain of the batting side, although Law 2 does not provide for such agreement to be made. For example, during the England–New Zealand Test Match at Lord's in 1986, England's specialist keeper, Bruce French was injured during England's first innings. England then used 4 keepers in New Zealand's first innings: Bill Athey kept for the first two overs; 45-year-old veteran Bob Taylor was pulled out of the sponsor's tent to keep, immaculately, for overs 3 to 76; Bobby Parks, the Hampshire keeper, was called up for overs 77 to 140; and Bruce French kept wicket for the final ball of the innings.

    Occasional wicket-keepers

    Occasional wicket-keepers are players that usually play in other roles but sometimes keep wicket. John Wisden was described as an occasional wicket-keeper. Other players who have been described as occasional wicket-keepers include Ambati Rayudu, Lokesh Rahul, Johnson Charles, Peter Handscomb, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lendl Simmons, Rahul Dravid, Marcus Trescothick , Eoin Morgan and Everton Weekes.

    Playing without a wicket-keeper

    There is no rule stating a team must play a wicket-keeper. On 5 June 2015 during a T20 Blast game between the Worcestershire Rapids and the Northamptonshire Steelbacks, Worcestershire chose not to play a wicket-keeper in the 16th over of the match. Their keeper, Ben Cox, became an extra fielder at fly slip while spinner Moeen Ali bowled. The umpires consulted with each other and agreed that there was nothing in the rules to prevent it from happening.

    Test

    The following top 10 wicket-keepers for dismissals in Test cricket.

    Notes in table

    1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2016
    2. Indicates current player

    ODI

    The following wicket-keepers have taken 200 or more dismissals in one day cricket.

    Notes in table

    1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2016
    2. Indicates current player

    T20I

    The following top 10 wicket-keepers for dismissals in Twenty20 International cricket.

    Notes in table

    1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2016
    2. Indicates current player

    References

    Wicket-keeper Wikipedia


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