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Wicket-Keeping Techniques - by Kelvin Lingard.

(Kelvin plays for a local suburban team each week and represents Townsville in the men's B state competition).

The Wicket keeper is one of the most valuable fielders in the game. A good understanding between the Wicket keeper and the receiver at the other end of the wicket can achieve a lot of dismissals. With a few good deliveries, a good wicket keeper can turn a game very quickly.

Keeping in indoor cricket is a very specialized position and takes a lot of skill and practice. It differs from outdoor keeping in several major aspects -

  • the keeper in indoor cricket must stand right at the stumps for all bowlers, fast and slow

  • the fielders are all close to the pitch, which means that the keeper's reaction time is for the most part very short (for balls returned to him)

  • He must have one hand free to throw, which means wearing a catching glove on one hand and on the other a throwing glove, or no glove at all.

Because of these conditions and the speed of the game, it is easy for a keeper to sustain injury. The best way to avoid injury is to develop good, safe techniques. I have provided below some of my own techniques for good wicket keeping. These have been developed over many years and will, hopefully, not only prevent injury but also help improve wicket-keeping skills.

FIELDING THE BALL
It is important to try to field every ball that is bowled. My aim is to glove every ball that beats the bat. I pretend that I have no net behind me and concentrate on the ball. This requires pretty much 100% effort but with concentration and persistence I find it has improved my game considerably.

POSITION
The best way to position yourself is in a squat, with your "inner" foot in line with off-stump. This remains the same for both left and right handed batsmen, however, depending on the batsman's stance you may need to vary it a little to retain a clear view of the ball's path.
Hands are cupped on the pitch and close to the stumps.
As the bowler prepares to bowl, I stay crouched, hands cupped out in front and elbows bent a little. Hands should stay on the pitch until just before the bounce. I stay low to judge the bounce of the ball; I rise slowly as the bowler approaches but still only to a crouched position with hands still cupped in front.
Without crossing my feet, I slide a little from either side of the wicket. When I receive the ball in my glove I move toward the direction of the stumps to increase my chances of a stumping.

HAND AND HEAD POSITIONS
For a normal bounce, I always have my hands cupped, fingers pointing down a little. Balls that bounce higher, at around eye level, are best taken with fingers pointing upwards.
You should keep your head in a comfortable position but, as much as possible, in line with the ball. It is most important not to snatch at the ball. If your head is in the right position, your eyes will be able to follow the ball and you can let it drop into your hands.
When you catch the ball, have your elbows bent, let your arms give a little and take the ball back to absorb some of the shock and avoid injury and the probable loss of the ball.

STUMPINGS
First of all, it is important not to get too excited or rushed when the batsman dashes out of the crease as this will bring about a mistake.
For a ball that bounces at wicket height, I keep slightly crouched (low). For a ball that pitches at close range to the wickets, like a Yorker, a full pitch delivery or when its almost at your gloves, I would have my feet spread a little and elbows bent then its like a scooping method from either side of my body. For a ball that pitches a high bounce, firstly, get there! You will probably need to be in a standing position. With hands cupped and fingers pointing upwards, take the ball and just bring it down to the stumps. I position myself in line with the ball or slightly to the side, depending on the delivery.
It is important to be patient (don't snatch) and watch the ball right into your gloves. When the ball has been received, take the bails off quickly, try to operate in easy reach of your stumps at all times. A technique I use when I find myself away from stump reach is a one-handed technique. I receive the ball, quickly transfer it to the hand nearest the stumps and then take the bails off.
You can lose an opportunity to stump by over reacting. If this happens, you will find the ball will hit your fingers and bounce away. Do not give up if this happens! Stay alert for a second play at the stumps. Make sure you get in position to receive flicks or throws from front court fielders and other fielders. I like to stay low for these attempts. (ICW: we couldn't agree more with Kelvin here--there's nothing bugs a front-court fielder more than a 'keeper who leaps out from behind the stumps and isn't there to take a quck flick back at the stumps).

LEG SIDE STUMPING
This is one of the hardest to perform, though with the correct techniques, it can be easy.
My technique is to stay low (crouching position), depending on the bounce of the ball that is bowled, and, as always, keep hands in front with fingers cupped. Judge the line of the ball and it's bounce. From this stance, slide foot to foot across to receive the ball. The foot-to-foot sideways slide technique helps you maintain balance and puts you in a good position to receive the ball.
The biggest problem with leg side takes is that you lose sight of the ball because of the batsman's position. Therefore, you must anticipate and move to be in the right spot to receive the ball as soon as it arrives. Good anticipation and regular practice of this move will enable you to sight the ball as early as possible thus giving you a better opportunity to remove the bails and stump the batsman should he be out of his crease.
If you find yourself too far away from the stumps, as sometimes happens in getting yourself in line with the ball, simply transfer the received ball into the hand closest to the stumps and remove the bails. In performing this action, remember to maintain your crouched position with hands out in front and do not cross your feet. In this way, you should receive the ball cleanly and be able to take off the bails.

THROWING AND RUN OUT THROWS
The keeper is responsible for a large amount of run outs at the receivers end. To do this, the keeper takes the ball cleanly, attempts a stumping, then returns the ball to the receiver to run-out the non-striker. A good strong and accurate throwing technique is essential.
I aim to receive the ball and be balanced when throwing it to the receiver. The technique I use involves using all of the shoulder and back muscles. Don't throw with your arm only! A side arm throw standing front on action could lead to injury. When I throw I try to keep my arm bent with the ball at level with my head, keeping it close to my ear. Step forward front leg out a little. This gives you more power and uses all of the muscles in the shoulder and back. From this stance, throw the ball.
I like to throw a bounce ball to the receiver so he/she can receive the ball cleanly and effect the run out. Sometimes a full throw is needed, but this is faster and therefore harder for the receiver to take. The technique I use when throwing is specifically to prevent injury. When I was younger I threw incorrectly - using just my arm and throwing hard. This led to injury. The injury was fixable though I have to be careful to use the correct technique to keep my arm in good condition. So, I can not stress enough how important it is to be well balanced when throwing and to use all of your muscles, not just your arm.
Finally, my most important tip of all is to stretch before, during breaks in the game and after the game. This prevents sore muscles, injury and loosens you up so you can play better.

Kelvin Lingard
Townsville.

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