Parthiv Patel April 10, 2012

Stitches and stumpings

The India wicketkeeper on memorable and ordinary days behind the stumps

First time you were hit in the face while failing to read the bounce as a wicketkeeper
The first time it happened, I needed four stitches. I was 14, attending a camp in Jamnagar, and was standing up to a spinner. But the ball hit the stump and hit me between my nose and mouth. Then in 2008, during Sri Lanka's first innings in the third Test match at the P Sara Oval, [Kumar] Sangakkara padded up to a delivery from Anil Kumble, which pitched outside off and turned in. I was not wearing a helmet and the ball hit me flush on my nose. I could see the bone. I got a helmet next ball.

First stumping
In my fifth Test, in Kolkata. It came late into the day, when Ramnaresh Sarwan failed to pick a doosra from Harbhajan Singh. He went to play the forward-defensive shot but missed. I picked it quickly and brushed off the bails in the nick of time. The third umpire ruled Sarwan out. It was a good one.

First catch you dropped in an international that proved expensive?
It was during the exciting third Test at Headingley against England in 2002. Nasser Hussain was batting on 10 and it was the last over before tea when he tried to defend against Kumble. There was a big deflection. It was not an easy catch but I dropped it. Hussain went on to make a century, but India won to level the series. So it was not really an expensive drop, but at the same time we might have won the match within four days.

First pair of wicketkeeping gloves
I bought a pair of SG Tournament gloves when I was 14 for Rs 700 [about US$13 today], which was quite a steep price then. I used it for about two years and loved the feel of the ball hitting the gloves. I looked after them, and even when they were torn, I got them stitched. Three years later I made my international debut and switched to the blue-coloured SG Super Keep brand. I did not notice any substantial difference between the two pairs, except there was a little bit more cushioning in the Super Keep.

First idol you met
The wicketkeeper I always looked up to and admired was Adam Gilchrist. I met him during the 2003 World Cup, just before the group match in Centurion against Australia. Before the match I asked him to spend some time with me to talk about wicketkeeping. He said he would. The match was over quickly after India made just 125 and Gilchrist helped Australia knock off the runs easily. He had not forgotten my request and came over to the Indian dressing room looking for me. The biggest thing that stayed with me from our chat was that he told me to enjoy the game, because once you start worrying about stuff, you do not enjoy wicketkeeping and you do not back your instincts.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo