THE wicket - keeper, immediately behind the stumps in the fielding side is the only player who can don the gloves and put on the external leg-guards. These paraphernalia are construed as part of his person.
If a player who is carrying out wicketkeeper’s duties for a side, by his actions and positioning makes it apparent to the umpires that he will not be discharging his duties as a wicket-keeper, he shall forfeit this right. For example if he positions himself at mid-off before the bowler delivers the ball to the striker and the ball comes off the blade of the striker and lodges in the clothing or the pads of the wicketkeeper who has so stationed himself, the catch will not be considered fair.
With regard to stumping off a ball ricocheting out of the wicket-keeper’s helmet and hitting the stumps and in turn resulting in the dislodgment of the bails with the striker/nonstriker out of his ground the appeal will be turned down by the umpire if the wicketkeeper fails to field in a position that is not consistent with his role.
Similarly any encroachment on the pitch by the wicket-keeper would earn a No ball call and signal from the umpire at the striker’s end immediately after the delivery of the ball. If a wicket-keeper wishes to field in a position that is not in conformity with his role he must remove his glove and pads. If he does not wish to remove those items of protection then he must be told to resume his traditional role in a wicket-keeping position.
The umpires should advise the captain of the fielding side of these options and also caution him of the consequences i.e. if the wicket-keeper touches the ball when in play with his gloves or pads he will be guilty of illegally fielding the ball and 5 penalty runs will be awarded to the betting side.
With regard to the wicketkeeper’s gloves they shall have no webbing between the fingers except joining index finger and the thumb. In case a wicket-keeper wears gloves in which the webbing is not as per specification the umpire after inspection of the gloves, can insist upon change of gloves which conform.
The wicket-keeper has to remain behind the line of the wicket behind the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler either touches the bat or person of the striker or passes the wicket at the striker’s end or the striker attempts a run.
In case of any contravention the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as possible after delivery of the ball. If the wicket-keeper encroaches in front of the wicket during the bowler’s run up the striker’s end umpire as soon as the ball is delivered shall call and signal No ball.
If a wicketkeeper standing back makes a significant movement towards the wicket, with the ball in play this could be construed as stealing unfair advantage over the striker. Either umpire shall call and signal Dead ball. If a wicket-keeper moves a pace or two up or down the wicket for a slower delivery this will not be tantamount to earning an unfair advantage.
The striker is entitled to know where the fielders are placed before the ball comes into play. Before taking the strike, a batsman makes himself familiar with the position of the wicket-keeper. If the wicketkeeper makes a drastic change in his positioning the striker’s scalp could be at risk.
It is for the umpires to judge fair or unfair play depending on the situation on the field of play. There are no restrictions placed on the movement of the wicket-keeper once the ball has made contact with the person of the striker, or his bat, or has passed his stumps if the striker attempts to run.
Situation 1: The striker hit the ball into the air. It causes the wicket-keeper to run up front in an attempt to take the catch. The striker sees the ball about to land on to his wicket. He knocks the ball away with his bat. There is an appeal. The striker is given out Obstructing the field.
Situation 2: The ball delivered by a bowler comes in contact with the striker. The ball rolls along the ground back toward the stump. The striker hits the ball, preventing the wicket-keeper from attempting to field the ball. The striker is not out as he was legally entitled to protect his wicket.
Situation 3: A fielder uses the wicket-keeper’s discarded glove. In this case the fielder deliberately picks up the glove and uses it to either to catch the ball or field the ball with it. This is illegal fielding and 5 penalty runs will have to be awarded to the batting side. The umpires will have to make a report since the act leading to the illegal fielding was intentional. The umpire calls Dead Ball and the ball does not count as one of the over.
Situation 4: Fielding the ball by using the helmet of a wicket- keeper. This will be construed as illegal and deliberate. As soon as the headgear makes contact with the ball, the ball becomes dead and 5 penalty runs awarded to the batting side. The ball does not count as one of the over.
A report will have to be made. It must be remembered by those who officiate in matches as umpires that throwing the helmet or hat at the ball is not illegal. it is the subsequent contact by the headgear with the ball that is penalised. If the headgear that is thrown misses the ball the game continues uninterrupted. No penalty runs are awarded,
Situation 5: The ball hits the helmet of the wicketkeeper that is lying on the ground. As the ball is being returned to the wicket it accidentally hits the helmet 5 penalty runs are awarded to the batting side. No report is made because the act of the ball hitting the headgear is accidental.
The introduction of Decision Review System whereby the ‘out’ or ‘not out’ arrived upon by either the bowler’s end umpire or the striker’s end umpire is allowed to be referred to the third umpire is a ‘territory’ in which the wicketkeeper plays a pivotal role into judging the worthiness of contesting the decision of the umpire.
He is the conduit through which a team comes together quickly to decide within 15 seconds if it is worthwhile to take a review. The two reviews available to each side playing the ODI is a tool that needs constant ‘Sharpening and tuning’.
An alert wicketkeeper who can judge the line of the ball, its height and its point of impact can be an asset to any side which is keen to exploit the advantage that could be accrued out of intelligent usage of the DRS. With regard to the standard of ‘glovemanship’ whether at a junior or international level.
Jack Russel, England and Gloucestershire wicketkeeper made his opinion about his kind getting the short end of the stick when it comes to coaching, wrote an article in the Cricketer stating: “I simply can’t understand why we are neglecting our keepers when millions are being spent on a National Academy and other centres of excellence if they can afford to employ physiologists and other vital back-ups as part of the modern game, surely they can look after the keepers.
Or have they become the poor relations of the English game?”. This writer believes that the views of Russel still carry the same credence currently today. For instance in 2001 India decided to accommodate the inclusion of at least one all-rounder down in the order in one day games. India had until the arrival of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a tradition of producing wicketkeeper with limited batting ability.
The BCCI put star batsman Rahul Dravid behind the stumps. The move was a disaster. While Dravid was brilliant in front of the stumps as a batsman behind the stumps he was a liability thereby creating the impression that the India team was a B grade outfit. It follows that the modern wicket-keeper cannot simply be ‘a glorified long stop’. A wicket-keeper besides being a skilled specialist gloveman he must be able to bat and bat well.
While there is a lot that can be written about the whims and eccentricities of wicketkeepers of past era this writer will end this feature abruptly by stating that: ‘Many wicketkeepers like to bring the ball back to the bails after every delivery, whether trying for a stumping or not. It can be a useful psychological weapon, but this should not be overdone and accidentally knock off the bails every few deliveries.
This won’t charm or please the umpires”. In the meantime, wicketkeepers of teams in the Dar es Salaam Regional Cricket Committee competitions should already be aware that a batsman can now be caught or stumped after the ball strikes a helmet worn by the wicketkeeper or fielder.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, addressing the people of Antigua, on October 24, 1985 during a Royal tour of the Eastern Caribbean had paid a tribute to the people of Antigua: “Every summer you export on a temporary basis the incomparable Viv Richards who gives so much pleasure to cricket lovers all over Britain”.
In the same vein, wicketkeepers of the likes of MS Dhoni, KC Sangakkara, Moin Khan, AG Gilchrist, I A Healy, T Taibu, MV Boucher, Dujon, Taylor, Russel and many more have provided the ‘esthetic delight’ and pleasure to millions all over the cricketing world with their smart glovemanship and calisthenics. Their prowess behind the stumps will continue to provide inspiration to youngsters wishing to emulate their skills.