Clues from the Blues: The Wicket-keeper16th May 2013
1. Focus – as a wicketkeeper it is crucial to focus on every delivery. You have the potential to be involved in every ball and many keepers can be guilty of switching off when there is a lull in play. Switching off at an opportune moment can leave you looking and feeling embarrassed.
2. Leg work – lateral explosive movements can be important when taking a diving catch or scurrying after a stray delivery down the leg side. Your feet need to be fast in these instances, so ladder drills are ideal for improvement. In addition to pace, stamina is also required. In a 50 over match as a keeper, you will perform at least 300 bodyweight squats, therefore towards the end the thighs may really begin to feel the fatigue setting in. The end of the innings can be pivotal in deciding a fixture therefore you need to be as sharp then as you were at ball one.
3. Timing – being fast and dynamic is useful but only if your timing is up to speed as well. Timing a dive can result in maximum reach, but if you come up from your stance too early then you may face a ball through the legs. For me, the main point here is timing for going down the leg side. Keepers may have the tendency to head down the leg side as soon as they see it drifting that way. However, this often can result in blinding yourself behind the batsman. The key is to pick the line and length of the ball on the off side and then move to the leg side with a picture of where the ball will be.
4. Head positioning – this is a relatively simple concept: it’s easier catching a ball which is closer to your eyes. Naturally if you draw your head away from the ball, then your bodyweight and hands will go with it which isn’t ideal. If you can catch the ball under your eyes you will be in good stead. A good example of this is catching around 0.5m either side of your body. Instead of sticking your hands out and snatching you will be more successful if you turn your chest towards the ball allowing the eyes and head to follow and opening up the hands.
5. Motivation – cricket can seem to go on for a very long time, trust me, and the rest of the team may feel this too. As a keeper you are at the centre point of the match and have the best view of how the pitch is behaving. As a result it is important to keep your team mates enthused and the energy up and to also report to the skipper of any things you pick up which he may have missed.
PHOTO / Richardavis