Ego has been the downfall of many a cricketer. Consider the good batsman who gets himself out against a part-time bowler. The bowler doesn’t have to do much because the batter loses concentration against someone with lesser skills.
A decent league cricket keeper can easily stand up to the average medium pace bowler on the average club wicket. Yet time and time again ego gets in the way.
The captain and senior players say, “are you sure that’s a good idea?”
The bowler grumbles about it, saying it’s putting him off.
In the worst case, the bowler deliberately sends one down the leg side in an effort to push the keeper back.
Ego combined with a fear of letting too many runs go in byes is stopping logical attacking cricket. Young keepers often go with the bowlers and captains wishes so here are three huge reasons to encourage the keeper to stand up more, not less:
1. Standing up gets more wickets
It’s a fact that bowler’s get more wickets when the wicketkeeper is up to the stumps.
The obvious reason is the stumping chance. This is far less frequent than an increase in wickets taken by LBW. The batsman is stuck in his crease and so when the ball hits the pads the umpire knows he is not too far down the wicket. With less doubt in his mind the umpire can be more confident.
And the bowler ends up with an extra wicket from an LBW shout that would have been turned down with the keeper standing back.
Over the course of a season a regular bowler will see a dramatic increase in wickets, mainly from LBW but also from the odd stumping.
2. Standing up makes the batsman nervous
When the keeper is up to the stumps there is an extra close fielder right behind the batsman. If you have ever batted with the keeper up you know how cramped you feel.
You know you have to keep your foot behind the crease, and it becomes much harder to play tip-and-run tactics because the keeper is onto anything you block. Runs dry up and the batter is more likely to try a big shot to a ball that is not there.
3. Standing up is easier for the keeper
Finally, most people assume standing up to pace bowling is the most difficult skill for a keeper. In fact, it’s slightly easier than standing up to spin because you have less time. It’s also easier than standing back because you can get away with average footwork. The ball just hits you and it’s a matter of reactions.
That means the keeper up to the stumps will keep better.
And when the keeper is doing well, the bowler’s are more confident and the team wins more games.
It may seem a subtle difference because it’s hard to measure success but standing up to seamers is a crucial skill for all keepers and everyone in the team should be there to support it.
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