BY KHURRAM HABIB
With plenty of competition for wicket-keepers’ roles within the Indian Premier League teams, the young Indians are discovering multiple dimensions to their cricket. Both Ishan Kishan of Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) Sanju Samson have also featured during this tournament purely as batsmen.
But with Jos Buttler (RR) and Quinton de Kock (MI) being the senior and more established wicket-keepers in their respective teams, both Kishan and Samson haven’t been able don the gloves. Samson though has regained the gloves of late after giving it up for Jos Buttler.
Rishabh Pant of Delhi Capitals played only as a batsman for India during the 2019 World Cup with MS Dhoni donning the keeping gloves.
“I will play whatever role the team asks me to,” said Samson during a game a few days ago.
Traditionally, wicket-keepers were never expected to have arms strong enough to throw from the deep as their job was only behind the stumps.
But some former India wicket-keepers believe that things began to change with Dinesh Karthik, who lost his India place to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Karthik had to then play often only as a batsman and had to take the field without wicket-keeping gloves.
The succeeding generation of stumpers, likewise, strengthened their batting, their throwing arms and fielding skills, a result of which is quite evident these days with the likes of Pant, Samson, Kishan and even KS Bharat, who though is not playing in IPL, being able and ready to play purely as batsmen and be termed safe hands in the field.
“If you have a guy like MS [Dhoni] in the side, you’ll have to look for alternative options. MS was a phenomenal wicket-keeper, a great batsman. and above all a wonderful captain; his place was assured. So, the option for the likes of Dinesh Karthik or Parthiv Patel was to come as back-up wicket-keeper and also be good fielders, so that when time came you could play as batsman,” former India stumper MSK Prasad told IANS.
“Hats off to both Karthik and Parthiv, who continued to score runs and could play solely as batsmen. That is what happened over the last decade and a half. But that shouldn’t be the thinking for the new generation of wicket-keepers. They have to work hard on wicket-keeping skills, otherwise they will lose their primary skill,” he said.
Kings XI Punjab captain KL Rahul has in earlier editions of IPL played as a pure batsman.
Other former wicket-keepers believe that it would be the way forward as stumpers will have to don multi-dimensional roles like batting and bowling all-rounders.