Wicketkeepers: Are You the Drummer or the Conductor? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Wicketkeepers: Are You the Drummer or the Conductor?

The conductor. The sergeant-major. The cheerleader. The Drummer. What is a 'keeper?

England and Kent coach Paul Farbrace tells us wicketkeeper is the drummer in the band: Keeping the beat of the fielding side with tidy glove work and unobtrusive, focused encouragement. Insightful, canny and reliable.

All good things.

He also says the wicketkeeper is the conductor of the orchestra: Controlling the entire ensemble. Energetic and obvious.

Kumar Sangakkara was a drummer: A keeper who goes about his work in a quiet way. If a bad throw comes in he didn't try and tidy it up, he just went about doing his job.

Former England and Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Jack Russell was a conductor: Standing up to all but the fastest bowlers, encouraging his team mates and keeping the pressure on the batsmen.

Split personality

Although all keepers are a bit mad (you have to be to want to do the job), whether they conduct or drum is down to personality: It's something that comes naturally one way or the other.

However, you can learn to do either, depending on the situation.

For example, if your seamers are on, but wickets are not coming, the drummer will offer the odd word of advice and encouragement. The conductor will gee up the fielders and try standing up to the stumps to make something happen.

Neither of these methods are wrong, but one might work better than another.

A bowler might prefer a quiet word (drummer) than a public admonishment (conductor). The batsman might have their fear of failure increased with a keeper chirping in their ear (conductor) or they might hate the silent treatment (drummer).

You can recognise when you need to be more conductor and less drummer, and vice versa.

So the question shouldn't be which is best, but which is most suitable?

Reverting to type

It can be tough for the keeper to have this flexible personality, because in critial moments we find it hard to control our personalities and revent to type. If you have dropped a catch or missed a stumping you naturally go quiet.

It's hard to try and conduct when you have dropped your baton.

That's why the keeper has to be the most resilient to mistakes in the team, because whether you are drumming or conducting, you can't let up the on the opposition, or allow the team energy drop because you have made a personal error.

And that's really what the good keepers are able to do; put their own personality traits aside and take control of the team, either as a conductor or drummer.

Which one are you and how can you develop some of the traits of the other side?

Broadcast Your Cricket Matches!

Ever wanted your skills to be shown to the world? PV/MATCH is the revolutionary product for cricket clubs and schools to stream matches, upload HD highlights instantly to Twitter and Facebook and make you a hero!

PV/MATCH let's you score the game, record video of each ball, share it and use the outcomes to take to training and improve you further.

Click here for details.



I'm a keeper at my local club and university and i would be a "drummer", sometimes I pipe up and really encourage the team. Both my teams always tell me to be louder and to chat to the batsmen, but I don't really know what to say apart from encouraging the bowlers. Do you have any suggestions?

I'd say don't force it. Say what you are thinking and don't worry if you say something silly (it will equally put the batter off if he is laughing). I like to comment on his technique to close fielders loud enough so he can hear. Also, some guys relax a little bit if you just chat to them about the weather or other nonsense. They are still wondering what you go on about as the bowler runs in...

But no abuse please. I was once told to call a batsman a "cheat" when he didn't walk. I did go on about how he hit it, but I wouldn't out and out call him names.