The wicket-keeper in the sport of cricket is the player on the fielding side who stands behind the wicket or stumps being watchful of the batsman and be ready to take a catch, stump the batsman out and run out a batsman when occasion arises. The wicket-keeper is the only member of the fielding side permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. The role of the keeper is governed by Law 27 of the Laws of Cricket.
There are 2 positions from which to keep wicket.
• Standing back from the wicket.
• Standing up to the wicket.
• Standing up to the wicket.
✬ Position where ball can be taken as it drops between waist and knee height after bouncing. Crouch to off side of stumps to get a clear view of ball.
✬ Rise with bounce of ball.
✬ Palms facing ball, little fingers touching.
✬ Hands forward to give as ball is taken.
✬ Eyes level; head as still as possible
Standing up to the Wicket – The Stance
✬ Squat down just wide enough to obtain a good view of ball.
✬ Safe distance behind stumps so that no part of keeper or his/her equipment breaks back edge of bowling crease as ball is taken.
✬ Eyes level, weight on balls of feet.
✬ Backs of fingers resting on ground, palms facing bowler.
Standing Up to the Wicket – Taking a Straight Ball
✬ Head and body behind line of ball.
✬ Rise with bounce of ball.
✬ Fingers pointing down.
✬ Hands give and elbows clear of body as ball is taken.
✬ Transfer weight to foot nearest stumps to commence bringing ball towards wicket in case of stumping opportunity.
Standing Up to the Wicket – Taking a Wide Offside Ball
✬ Move quickly to offside with outside foot turned in.
✬ Hands on line of ball.
✬ Give with hands.
✬ Transfer weight towards stumps by pushing head towards them.
✬ Swing arms towards wicket.
✬ Knock bails off if batsman is to be stumped.
Standing Up to the Wicket – Taking a Legside Ball
✬ Sight and judge ball from normal stance.
✬ Move quickly to leg side.
✬ Transfer weight from left foot which has turned in slightly, to right.
✬ Take ball just outside line of body.
✬ Push head towards wicket to assist swing of arms to break wicket if necessary.
Standing Up to the Wicket – Taking a Rising Ball
✬ This applies to leg and offside.
✬ Keep gloves on line of ball.
✬ Sway head and body off the line; allow gloves to rise with ball.
✬ Push head towards stumps to assist arm swing back for possible stumping .
Taking Returns From the Field
✬ Move quickly to put the wicket between the ball and the wicket keeper.
✬ Whenever possible take the ball on the full toss unless this would mean missing the chance of a run out.
✬ Always try to take the ball in the gloves. Pads are for protection should the ball be missed; they are not a front line of defence.
✬ If a fielder is chasing a ball with his back to the wicket keeper it helps the fielder to sight the keeper as he turns if a gloved hand is held above the keeper’s head.
✬ Be prepared to remove a glove in order to throw the ball at the bowler’s wicket if a run out is possible at that end.
Cricketer’s Top Ten Wicket Keeping Tips
1. Have a vision for your wicket keeping performance, what your roles are in each format of the game. Set goals for training and for match time. Break down each aspect of your keeping, standing up to the stumps, standing back, catching to both sides, single and both hands.
2. As wicket keeper you’re the center point for the team performance in the field. Make sure your set a good tempo for the side.
Get through the overs, keep ahead of the clock with the over rate, particularly with 20 20 Cricket where time is always an issue.
Make your fielders look good, taking wayward throws and balls on the half volley. Affirm them and boost up your players confidence, encouraging them, especially when your side is under pressure.
3. Set your focus for each ball, watch the ball from the bowlers hand. Be present with each ball, you will make mistakes, let them go, re-set your focus and set a goal for the next ball.
breathe and relax between balls to help let go of tension and reset your focus.
4. Go down for each ball, it makes you come up underneath the ball. Keep your hands open and create a big surface area for the ball to come into.
Extend your hands out to the ball to receive its energy, let your hands receive the ball and give with the energy.
You will catch primarily in one hand, so look after your dominant catching hand. Be aware of where your are catching the ball in your hand. Pay attention to closing your hand around the ball when gloving it, this makes your judgement more precise and assists you in watching the ball closely.
5. Elite wicketkeepers set the alignment for the slips. The slips take their mark from you – set them around 1 1/2 slips so that you have room to dive and move. When you are going for a catch in this channel, go with total commitment.
6. When diving for the ball, lead with your head, drive your head toward the ball, good head position gives your eyes and ultimately your brain good information to get into position to take your catch.
7. When diving for catches you have two options: having caught the ball, either tuck your elbow under your body and roll so your don’t land on it … or you straighten your elbow when diving low for the catch.
This takes the jarring motion out of your landing. Get the mattress out at home or at your club and practice this till you can master both techniques.
Wear long sleeve shirts to protect your elbows when diving.
8. Practice your focus and watching the ball. Staying down and watching the ball bounce to give yourself a long, good look at the ball. As in batting, judgement of length is critical and needs to be practiced.
Practice this by doing throw downs and work on the bowling machine if you have access to one, consciously pay attention to watching the ball bounce.
Challenge yourself to not move till you have watched the ball bounce.
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9. Keep your hands low and your eyes glued to the ball when taking the bouncing ball, allow your arms to stay long so that your hands come up underneath the ball. This stops you having to go back down for the ball.
10. Practice taking the ball up to the stumps and down the leg side, put a chair or long box in the way. You need an obstacle where the flight of the ball is obscured as it passes the imaginary batsman.
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