Wicket- Keeping is one of the most important aspects of the game of cricket. A wicket- keeper is a player on the fielding side. He stands behind the stumps and has to be vigilant while performing his task.
The wicket-keeper in the sport of cricket is the player from the fielding side who stands directly behind the stumps on the striker’s end. The wicket-keeper is one of the most important member of the team as he has to be constantly alert to catches, stumping chances or run outs. Even otherwise, wicketkeeper is the player who collects the maximum ball when his team is fielding. The wicket-keeper is the only member of the fielding side permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. A wicket keeper needs to be alert, active and full of energy all the time. Even the slightest of mistakes can cost his team dearly whereas a brilliant catch or a stumping can alter the entire course of the match. Besides keeping wickets, a wicket keeper also keeps the morale of his team high by constantly shouting words of encouragement to fielders and bowler.
Till a decade or so back, wicket keepers were generally expected to keep wickets and bat a bit. Some wicket keepers were good batsmen but then their primary job was to keep wickets. Any contribution from bat was considered a bonus. It all, however, changed with the arrival of dashing wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist who completely re-defined the role of a wicketkeeper in modern cricket.
Widely regarded as the greatest wicket-keeper–batsman in the history of the game, Gilchrist was an attacking left-handed batsman and record-breaking wicket-keeper, who redefined the role of the wicket keeper through his aggressive batting. Later on with the arrival of master blasters like Kumara Sangakarra, M S Dhoni and Brendon McCullum, wicket keepers also became match winners with bat.
He is the only player of the fielding team who puts on gloves and external leg guards. An efficient wicket-keeper also keeps the morale of the team high by shouting words of encouragement to bowlers and fielders in all situations. One of the most important functions of the wicket- keeper is to stop the deliveries that pass the batsman. He can also dismiss the batsman in multiple ways. First, he can catch the ball before it bounces on the field. Second, he can stump the batsman by making use of the ball to remove the stumps, when the batsman is out of crease. Third, when the ball is hit into the outfield, he catches the return throw made by the fielder, by returning close to the stumps. If possible, he may run out the batsman at such occasions. Another important aspect of wicket keeping is the position of the wicket-keeper, which depends upon the bowler. When there is fast bowling, the wicket- keeper usually squats at some distance from the stumps, to have time to react to edges from the batsman. In case of slow bowling, he comes near the stumps to pressurize the batsman. The role of a wicket-keeper is governed by Law 27 of the Laws of Cricket. Nowadays, wicket-keepers are expected to exhibit batting skills also, but their primary role cannot be underestimated. After all “catches win matches”, and a good keeper can effect dismissals which an ordinary fielder cannot. Some of the renowned wicket-keepers in one day cricket include: Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher, MS Dhoni etc.
By: Anuja Arora