One player, three hats. That’s the wicketkeeper, who has taken on the responsibility of a batsman and also leads his side. He has thus become crucial in the dynamics of modern-day cricket. Both in front and behind the stumps, with different pairs of gloves, he has become an asset. The extra role he plays as captain has brought the wicketkeeper-batsman-cum-captain into sharp focus in the World Twenty20.
As the World Cup rolls on, the spotlight will be on wicketkeepers. The list includes M S Dhoni (India), A B de Villiers, Quinton de Kock (both South Africa), Brendon McCullum, Luke Ronchi (both New Zealand), Dinesh Chandimal, Kumar Sangakkara (both Sri Lanka), Brad Haddin (Australia), Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh), Jose Butler (England), Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal (both Pakistan) and Denesh Ramdin (West Indies) and they are among those who will form a formidable eleven with their sheer weight as destructive batsmen. Such is the power of wicketkeepers in modern day cricket. Of the 13 in the list, four of them — Dhoni, McCullum, Mushfiqur and Chandimal — have the additional responsibility of leading their sides.
Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More agrees that wicketkeepers have become match-winners. “They are the true all-rounders in the game. They are innovative, destructive with the willow and at the same time, play the role of wicketkeepers. They control the game from behind and in front of the stumps,” More said.
The former chairman of selectors said Dhoni is one of the best finishers in the game. “He is a seasoned campaigner. He has played the roles of batsman, wicketkeeper and captain superbly. He is captain cool and controls the game from behind,” More added.
Dhoni is not alone. The likes of McCullum, De Villiers, Haddin, Sangakkara and the Akmal brothers can turn the match head on. “De Villiers has stunned bowlers with his innovative batting. McCullum, Haddin and the Akmals can hit the ball really hard. Sanga can murder any attack,” he said.
Surendra Bhave, another former national selector, said these players can play a big role in their team’s fortunes. “They have turned the wicketkeeper’s role into a more dynamic one. They have become the X-factor in cricket. The teams are looking for players who are pro-active, both as batsman and as wicketkeepers.
“If you see this format, teams benefit a lot from players like Dhoni, De Villiers, Sangakkara, Haddin and others. Wicketkeeping is of course a specialist’s job but in this format, they hardly get balls behind the stumps. But at the same time, a missed catch or stumping may prove very costly. I think under these circumstances, world cricket is fortunate to see these wonderful set of all-rounders who have excelled in both roles. We have seen some amazing work behind the stumps and at the same time, they have literally destroyed the opposition with their cavalier batting,” added Bhave.