Wicketkeeping is nothing less than an art in cricket. According to greats of the game like Kumar Sangakkara and Adam Gilchrist, it is the most difficult job in cricket as the keeper needs to be vigilant for the entire span of 50 overs or over the days as in case of Test cricket. The keeper needs to keep his eyes fixed on every delivery. In the current era, technology has helped wicketkeepers to a great extent as they can analyze their flaws in the dressing room. This has meant that even part time wicketkeepers can now don the gloves for the entire game.
The Indian side named its squad for the Zimbabwe tour which will comprise of three ODIs and two T20Is starting 10th July, 2015. The one major surprise in the list was that there was no full fledged wicketkeeper who was selected. Rather, as many as three part time wicketkeepers were chosen in the squad for the limited overs. Robin Uthappa, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu are the three part time wicket keepers chosen.
Usually, it is skipper MS Dhoni who keeps wickets. But in Dhoni’s absence, the selectors usually opt for Saha as he is the number 2 wicketkeeper. The exclusion of Saha from the list is a clear indication of the fact that the Indian selectors do not trust Saha with the bat. The premier question arising from the selected squad is that, is it ideal for the Indian side to tour Zimbabwe without a recognized wicketkeeper?
The answer to the above question could be in the affirmative, as well as in the negative. When Sourav Ganguly was made the skipper of the Indian side, he promptly asked Rahul Dravid to keep wickets, so that another batsman could be accommodated. Dravid, who according to few, hated wicketkeeping the most, agreed to do so, just for the team’s sake. And Dravid did a pretty decent job. As a wicketkeeper, Dravid had 72 catches to his name along with 14 stumpings. More than the dismissals, it allowed India to play another batsman, which immensely benefited the team’s cause.
This pretty much comforts viewers with the theory that a makeshift wicketkeeper too can do the full time job. Uthappa is no mug behind the stumps, as he has kept for his IPL sides since the past several IPL seasons. Kedar Jadhav too kept for the Delhi Daredevils, but his keeping was incredibly sloppy. And Rayudu hasn’t been behind the stumps since the 2010 IPL final! It must be noted that for the 2015 World Cup, MS Dhoni did not have the backing of a recognized second wicketkeeper. It was Rayudu who was the backup wicketkeeper.
Going with a part time wicketkeeper can be a positive move in a couple of ways. Firstly, it will allow an extra batsman or an extra bowler to be accommodated in the side. This will have a great positive impact on the side. Secondly, with MS Dhoni in the twilight of his career, it will provide a perfect opportunity for backup wicketkeepers like Uthappa and Jadhav. The backup keepers will get no better opportunity than this to keep for India. Thus, it will efficiently prepare them for the future, and to carry forward Dhoni’s legacy.
The one negative though will be that since they are not full time wicketkeepers, their keeping cannot be trusted a cent percent. They might make mistakes behind the stumps, and these mistakes could prove fatal in the outcome of the game. Thereby, it becomes imperative to field a full fledged wicketkeeper.
However, with the Indian squad soon to depart for Zimbabwe, the expectations are high from the side. If the backup wicketkeepers do a good job, then the Indians are assured of a bright future behind the stumps.