The moniker says it all

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A wicket-keeper’s job is to keep wickets.  If he can bat as well, that’s great; but batting cannot make up for inadequate keeping skills.  We should not underestimate the importance of a good keeper.  The Indian selectors need to remember this, lest it cost us dearly.  Take the case of the young Parthiv Patel.  He did India no favors by missing the stumping of Pointing when he was on zero on the final day of the Sydney Test during the 2003-04 tour of the Outback.  It, perhaps, deprived Indian cricket of its greatest achievement.  Yet the selectors persisted with him in the face of some horrendous keeping.  And he was then universally criticized and unceremoniously dumped after contributing to concede the test series to the Aussies on their tour to India.

That brings me to all the recent brouhaha over Dhoni.  Let’s not be hasty in comparing him to possibly the only contemporary cricketer who would walk into any All-Time XI side.  I am not going to comment on his batting technique; it is his keeping that I am more concerned about.  In the last three ODIs, I have seen him miss two stumping chances and spill a fairly easy catch in the 135.3 overs that he has kept.  And this does not include all his fumbles during the regular takes.  So let’s not jump the gun in replacing Karthik with Dhoni in the test arena, as Jagdish over at 24×7 suggests (and more so if Karthik is as good a wicket-keeper as Jagdish claims he is).  Dhoni needs to prove that he can keep well before he can earn a test cap.

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10 Responses to “The moniker says it all”

  1. S Jagadish Says:

    Fair call Pratik, but who would Sri Lanka rather bowl to: Dhoni or Karthik? I suspect this could be a debate on similar lines to England: Read v Jones. The problem, for me, is that Jones has been really crappy with his keeping on just about every instance I’ve seen him. Not so for Dhoni.

  2. Pratik Says:

    I think the more important question is whom would Kumble and Harbhajan rather keep for them? I am not disputing Dhoni’s ability with the bat, but that is not his main job. Nor am I ruling out Dhoni’s Test chances, but I just need to see better glovework from him consistently before I would be comfortable with him keeping in the superior form of the sport.

  3. Pratik Says:

    Update: I’ve come to learn that Dhoni missed two straight-forward stumpings in the very first ODI of this series as well. Read about it here: http://straitdriv.blogspot.com/2005/10/1st-odi-india-vs-sri-lanka-25-oct-2005_27.html

    That makes five reprieves in 171.1 overs. He does have some way to go before he can lay claim to a Test call-up.

  4. Amar Says:

    I don’t think that you can call Dhone an “inadequate” keeper. He might have muffed up a few chances here and there but so does every keeper in the world. You can’t nitpick on every single chance he fumbles. Even the great Adam Gilchrist has made his share of miscues.
    Agreed that Dhoni has missed a few chances in this series but he is nowhere near as bad as Patel has been in the past. He is head and shoulders above Patel as far as the keeping goes.
    Comparing Dhoni to Gilchrist is a bit premature and I don’t think any “real” fan who understands cricket would do that just yet. You shouldn’t go by media’s reaction. They always find a way to magnify the situation and make it bigger than it really is.
    He still has a long ways to go. In fact, he isn’t even in the class of Sangakaara, who I think is a great, great talent. Having said that, Dhoni has a great potential of not only being a great ODI player but an extraordinary Test player. Espeically after watching his cool, calm temperament in the 4th ODI. It is not easy to bat like he did in that match after what the entire country expected off of him. People in the stands didn’t come to see him block and score 16 runs in 32 balls. But, he knew exactly what was needed from him at that point in the match and he kept his nerves and batted according to the situation. I don’t think people realize what kinda a maturity level one needs, especially at such a young age, to play two innings, both match-winning and both at the polar opposite of each other, with the level of expectations he has created from the entire nation.

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that you can’t nitpick his keeping. He has done an above average job keeping (in fact, more than an above average job) in the series so far. Even the best of the keepers are going to have a miscue or two every now and then. As I mentioned above, he is no Partheev Patel. Patel’s keeping was horrendous. And Kaarthik’s MIGHT be a little better but not that much better. It’s comparable enough that Dhoni’s batting abilities should win him a spot in both forms of the game. Unless, of course, Dhoni turns out to be the second coming of Patel, which I believe, will be highly unlikely.

  5. Pratik Says:

    Amar, on what basis do you claim that his keeping is above average? Don’t get me wrong, I am as excited as everybody at the discovery of Dhoni’s talent. I want to see his innate potential get a chance to express itself at the Test level as much as anybody else, but I want to see better keeping from him before that opportunity is presented.

  6. Amar Says:

    Well, I have seen him keep in the first five matches of this series and in my estimation he isn’t any worse than any other keeper in the country. Surely, he is not in the class of Nayan Mongia or Kiran More (forgetting about Kirmani, who was in a class of himself) but neither is any other keeper in the country.
    I think that the present day keepers are trying to focus more on their batting skills rather than keeping. So you are going to be hard pressed to find a keeper who would fit the mold of a “typical” keeper, like Mongia or More, whose primary job is to keep and if they can bat a little it’s just a bonus.
    The same thing can be argued about Adam Gilchrist. He is a great batsman but he is nowhere near the keeper Ian Healy or Rodney Marsh were.

  7. Pratik Says:

    How is Karthik’s keeping? I haven’t seen much of him.

  8. Amar Says:

    I have only seen him a couple of times. He did an ok job. Missed a couple but took mostly what came his way.

  9. Raja Says:

    I think we should give adequate chances to both Dhoni and Karthick as well as any other upcoming wicket keeper, may be give the contenders chances when the series is decided,
    Who knows If Dhoni’s batting is exceptional, we can play him as a batsman even if his keeping is found to be less than adequate.

  10. Pratik Says:

    Dhoni kept perfectly in the 6th game. If he can keep up that glovework, he’ll have earned his Test call-up, and might play in the first Test match against Sri Lanka.

    You’re right though, Raj. It’s important to continue to groom Karthik as well. You never know when you’ll need back-up.

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