Syed Kirmani September 30, 2013

'I excelled without knowing what wicketkeeping was all about'

Syed Kirmani on being a self-taught wicketkeeper, 1983, and his peers
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I was offered a job at the age of 17 by State Bank of India and I appeared for my class ten exams after joining the bank. I was employed and sat in the bank for a week and then applied for leave to appear for my exams.

We just had a manager in our time. We never had any support staff the way international teams have right now. We looked at other teams' top players and assessed ourselves and corrected ourselves on our own after making mistakes.

There was a lot of discouragement from my parents about getting deeply involved in sports. Their concern was for me to get a degree and a government job. I used to take part in sports in school on the sly.

I achieved high wicketkeeping standards by keeping to the three legendary spinners - Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and BS Chandrasekhar. To start with, I played with Chandrasekhar and Prasanna as a schoolkid. When I played for the country, I kept to Bedi also.

Wherever I played, my consistency brought me into the limelight.

As a kid I lived in Jayamahal Extension in Bangalore. The local team used to play with cork balls. Once, the captain of the team said, "Go and stand behind the sticks and stop the ball." Now, how do I stop the cork ball? There were bricks lying there. I picked one up and started stopping the ball with it. The bricks would break and I would get a scolding from the contractors who were constructing buildings there.

I have never read a single book on anybody or any topic till date. It's all just personal experience.

I liked the style of Bob Taylor the most among all the wicketkeeper-batsmen, and I tried adopting his type of technique. I admire his skills more than Alan Knott's and Rod Marsh's.

At our school there was only a PT master.

Nobody taught me the details of wicketkeeping. If somebody started keeping wicket, he was told to keep every time. I excelled without any technique, without knowing what wicketkeeping was all about. Nobody told me about technique.

I ran barefoot, as my father could not afford to buy canvas shoes for me.

I never had a role model in my life, never idolised anybody. Having said that, I never shirked from admiring anybody who was doing a great job in whatever walk of life - be it sports or academics or anything else.

In 1965-66, an Australian schools side was touring India and I was selected in the Indian schools team. We played three "Tests" and I scored 121 in the first match in Chennai, 132 in Hyderabad, and 75 in the third, in Bombay. I was then picked as the vice-captain of the Indian schools team to tour England in 1967 - the first-ever Indian schools team to tour abroad.

When I was a schoolkid, Keki Tarapore, my mentor, used to come and pick me up to prepare me for school cricket tournaments. He used to say, "Keep the ball down", that's all. That was his guidance or coaching.

My first captain in the Ranji Trophy was V Subramanya. Budhi Kunderan was the first Indian wicketkeeper I saw. He used to play for Karnataka/Mysore as an opening batsman and wicketkeeper then.

Once, when I was having dinner with Knott, Marsh, Jeffrey Dujon and Taylor during the 1983 World Cup, I said, "I consider all four of you the best in the world." Knott interrupted me and said, "Kiri, wicketkeeping ability is judged only when a wicketkeeper stands up to spinners, not to fast bowlers. And you have kept to the best [spinners] in the world."

"We looked at other teams' top players and assessed ourselves and corrected ourselves on our own after making mistakes"

I was the baby of the Indian team in 1971 when I was introduced under the captaincy of Ajit Wadekar. From 1971 to 1975 I was in the reserves, and they retained me because of my consistency in the side games we played in England.

No captain I played under lived up to my expectations. That is my assessment of who a leader is, who a captain is.

In my first match on English soil, against Hampshire schools in 1967, I scored 104 not out. That was the beginning. When I returned from the tour, I was picked as a specialist batsman for the Mysore Ranji Trophy team at only 17 years of age.

The first sport I participated in in school was athletics. I ran 100 metres, 200 metres, and relay at state school level. My second sport was hockey, and then cricket and football. I used to excel in my team, in my group. I had god-given ability.

I have always appreciated the efforts of Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath, who are batting legends.

I have been taking notes on some big corporates of late - Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji, these big icons who have been instrumental in the development of our economy.

Viv Richards was the world's best batsman of our time on an all-round basis.

I always admired Knott. When I went abroad, the first foreign wicketkeeper I met was Knott, who was considered the world's best wicketkeeper. After that I met Rodney Marsh, Bob Taylor and Wasim Bari of Pakistan.

The best moment of my cricketing career was during the 1983 World Cup final, when I was recognised as the best wicketkeeper in the world and awarded a silver glove and a silver ball by none other than the all-time great wicketkeeper Godfrey Evans.

Cricket is no more a gentleman's game. Certain mannerisms exhibited in the game these days are not gentlemanly.

Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vaidyar on September 30, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    He was a friend of my dad's boss and I grew up hearing stories of Kirmani on a scooter and those red/brown painted shirts. Always had the feeling he was a fun guy. But the one I remember most is Sunny Gavaskar's on how when the team got out of a plane on the tarmac and had to make the walk towards the airport Kiri was walking backwards because the wind was blowing off his combover.

    Wonder why almost all articles on past Indian cricketers degenerate into arguments on how good they were compared to the current crop! Sometimes little legends are stories are what might matter over mere statistics.

  • mattblacknaki on September 30, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    From a differnt erra, Kirmani was top class in that erra. I remember a catch he took in Madras - to this day the best I have seen by any keeper.

    I was sitting in the club quota stands above the sight screen. 1979 - Kapil Dev bowled to Mudassar Nassar - inswinger on the middle stup. Kirmani picked the line & moved left. Mudassar leg glanced & Kirmani dived fulllength to the left. Flying through the air he took the catch in short fine leg! The whole stadium went silent. Mudassar stated to run & then stopped mid pitch. The stadium errupted in cheers. Mudassar looked shocked as he walked back to the pavilion.

    The 2nd was on commentary - 1981 3rd Test in Sydney. Last innings India was defending 142. Australia lost Dyson & then Chappell fell first ball. Then Dilip Doshi came on to bowl. Suddenly there was a roar (Australian crowd) and I could not hear the commentators! Then the excited explanation of a brilliant stumping down the leg side! India won by 59 runs.

  • sweetspot on September 30, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    Kirmani was certainly amazing. I saw one game against Pakistan in Bangalore, when everybody thought Dilip Doshi had got the batsman out bowled. It was only when it came on the old manual, mechanical black and white display that it was a stumping that we all yelled out. It was lightning quick. He belonged to a fun generation of cricketers, who were more characters than anything else.

    This article is an absolute reflection on the openness and spontaneity of the man. What a joy it must have been to play with such people!

  • on September 30, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    A pure gem of a wicketkeeper and person. A true hero of Indian cricket. Interestingly read Knott's comments that a wicketkeeper's true ability is to be judged when he stands up to spinners. Dhoni has done commendably when standing up to spinners. The recent series against Australia on typical Indian square turning dust bowls was an example. Plus he has taken stumping to another level with his unique ability to keep his hands upto the stumps. Shows that somewhere in his backyard (away from the media glare)he is doing all the hard work to hone his skills.

  • VintageCricketeer on October 5, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Syed Kirmani was probably the greatest wicketkeeper India has produced and a handy batsman at times. Bit disappointed that he did not acknowledge the ability of Kapil Dev, without whom India would not have won the World Cup in 1983! Mind you, he kept very well when Kapil, Binny, Madan Lal and Amarnath were swinging the ball prodigiously.

  • on October 3, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    @pitch_curator & sunil vaidya-lets give the devil its due. Dhoni perhaps is the better bat (though I shudder to think his fate on quick pitches facing bowlers like Lillee & Thommo, the Carribean quicks,not to mention Immy,Bob Willis,Hadlee & the like:pertinent to note that neither these kind of bowlers are found aplenty nor are the pitches as spiteful now.). but to pure wicket keeping abilities the distance b/w Kiri & the rest of the Indian keepers are a few million light years. Dhoni is no doubt a safe keeper who has grown into the job but Kiri was in a class of his own & this has been acknowledged by former cricketing legends(Sunny,Kapil Dev,Pras,Bedi to name afew)whose cricketing knowledge is definitely better than ours.

  • Jaani_gaddar on October 2, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    Kiri was a Bowler's keeper,then when chances were rare he gobbled them, half chances whatever.He was so underrated,did his job quietly,was only in news when he made mistakes,also a terrific team man.Some of his catches,stumpings were sensational & without modern days coverage diff to comprehend, one had to watch replay to believe & be amazed by the effort.he took the mudassar catch which would have eluded the third leg slip,was so much outside the screen that from TV we could not make out what happened & then they showed the amazing action replay from a long shot to really appreciate the amount of ground Kirii actually covered.His stumpings were in so quick that leg umpires couldn't quite decide.had he got the 3rd umpire, man one would know his genius. His unorthodox batting was on when the chips vr down. luk at so many record stands with lower order which were broken in recent yrs.Myself a keeper copied his techn & hair style,but to no avail. Cheers Kiri for gr8 intvw & inspiring us

  • ramab on October 1, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    I have seen the eras of both Kirmani and Dhoni. Dhoni is a great one day player/wicket keeper no doubt. But Kirmani was the the best keeper I have seen keep for India especially in tests. His stumping of Mudassar Nazar in Pakistan was a classic. Also, note that Kirmani had to face the WI pace attack in WI (Marshall, Holding, Garner etc) as well as other greats like Hadlee, Imran Khan and the great Aussie quicks and came in tough situations to rescue India. I don't know if a lot of people supporting Dhonii have watched Krimani play and followed cricket in that era. I have not seen Dhoni be a part of rescue team in tests when the backs are on the wall to save a test match. Also note that they did not have as much videos in those days to watch themselves or others to analyze.

  • on October 1, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    There is no doubt Kirmani was one of the best keepers India has produced. One comment however had me stumped. No captain under whom he played lived up to his expectations. Did he have captaincy ambitions himself? I wonder!

  • ravi_hari on October 1, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    Easily the best keeperIndia has produced. The fact that he did not have any formal training has actually helped Kiri as he kept with his natural ability and spontainity. He was not only safe behind the stumps but also made life difficult for batsmen when he stood up for spinners. He kept to the best spinners in the world, he kept to the best all rounder India has ever produced. He kept during India's best triumphs in Australia and in WC83. I too have that catch mentioned by Matt stuck in my memory. When ever I think of Kiri that catch comes as a flash.Brilliant is an under statement for Kiri. Added to his keeping his batting was both entertaining and very useful to the team. He invented the tennis volley type stroke which people use in T20s now. He was innovative while stealing runs and could have been an excellent T20 cricketer. He was dumped unceremoniously when he had atleast a couple of years cricket left in him. One of all time greats for India and the best keeper ever.

  • vaidyar on September 30, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    He was a friend of my dad's boss and I grew up hearing stories of Kirmani on a scooter and those red/brown painted shirts. Always had the feeling he was a fun guy. But the one I remember most is Sunny Gavaskar's on how when the team got out of a plane on the tarmac and had to make the walk towards the airport Kiri was walking backwards because the wind was blowing off his combover.

    Wonder why almost all articles on past Indian cricketers degenerate into arguments on how good they were compared to the current crop! Sometimes little legends are stories are what might matter over mere statistics.

  • mattblacknaki on September 30, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    From a differnt erra, Kirmani was top class in that erra. I remember a catch he took in Madras - to this day the best I have seen by any keeper.

    I was sitting in the club quota stands above the sight screen. 1979 - Kapil Dev bowled to Mudassar Nassar - inswinger on the middle stup. Kirmani picked the line & moved left. Mudassar leg glanced & Kirmani dived fulllength to the left. Flying through the air he took the catch in short fine leg! The whole stadium went silent. Mudassar stated to run & then stopped mid pitch. The stadium errupted in cheers. Mudassar looked shocked as he walked back to the pavilion.

    The 2nd was on commentary - 1981 3rd Test in Sydney. Last innings India was defending 142. Australia lost Dyson & then Chappell fell first ball. Then Dilip Doshi came on to bowl. Suddenly there was a roar (Australian crowd) and I could not hear the commentators! Then the excited explanation of a brilliant stumping down the leg side! India won by 59 runs.

  • sweetspot on September 30, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    Kirmani was certainly amazing. I saw one game against Pakistan in Bangalore, when everybody thought Dilip Doshi had got the batsman out bowled. It was only when it came on the old manual, mechanical black and white display that it was a stumping that we all yelled out. It was lightning quick. He belonged to a fun generation of cricketers, who were more characters than anything else.

    This article is an absolute reflection on the openness and spontaneity of the man. What a joy it must have been to play with such people!

  • on September 30, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    A pure gem of a wicketkeeper and person. A true hero of Indian cricket. Interestingly read Knott's comments that a wicketkeeper's true ability is to be judged when he stands up to spinners. Dhoni has done commendably when standing up to spinners. The recent series against Australia on typical Indian square turning dust bowls was an example. Plus he has taken stumping to another level with his unique ability to keep his hands upto the stumps. Shows that somewhere in his backyard (away from the media glare)he is doing all the hard work to hone his skills.

  • VintageCricketeer on October 5, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Syed Kirmani was probably the greatest wicketkeeper India has produced and a handy batsman at times. Bit disappointed that he did not acknowledge the ability of Kapil Dev, without whom India would not have won the World Cup in 1983! Mind you, he kept very well when Kapil, Binny, Madan Lal and Amarnath were swinging the ball prodigiously.

  • on October 3, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    @pitch_curator & sunil vaidya-lets give the devil its due. Dhoni perhaps is the better bat (though I shudder to think his fate on quick pitches facing bowlers like Lillee & Thommo, the Carribean quicks,not to mention Immy,Bob Willis,Hadlee & the like:pertinent to note that neither these kind of bowlers are found aplenty nor are the pitches as spiteful now.). but to pure wicket keeping abilities the distance b/w Kiri & the rest of the Indian keepers are a few million light years. Dhoni is no doubt a safe keeper who has grown into the job but Kiri was in a class of his own & this has been acknowledged by former cricketing legends(Sunny,Kapil Dev,Pras,Bedi to name afew)whose cricketing knowledge is definitely better than ours.

  • Jaani_gaddar on October 2, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    Kiri was a Bowler's keeper,then when chances were rare he gobbled them, half chances whatever.He was so underrated,did his job quietly,was only in news when he made mistakes,also a terrific team man.Some of his catches,stumpings were sensational & without modern days coverage diff to comprehend, one had to watch replay to believe & be amazed by the effort.he took the mudassar catch which would have eluded the third leg slip,was so much outside the screen that from TV we could not make out what happened & then they showed the amazing action replay from a long shot to really appreciate the amount of ground Kirii actually covered.His stumpings were in so quick that leg umpires couldn't quite decide.had he got the 3rd umpire, man one would know his genius. His unorthodox batting was on when the chips vr down. luk at so many record stands with lower order which were broken in recent yrs.Myself a keeper copied his techn & hair style,but to no avail. Cheers Kiri for gr8 intvw & inspiring us

  • ramab on October 1, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    I have seen the eras of both Kirmani and Dhoni. Dhoni is a great one day player/wicket keeper no doubt. But Kirmani was the the best keeper I have seen keep for India especially in tests. His stumping of Mudassar Nazar in Pakistan was a classic. Also, note that Kirmani had to face the WI pace attack in WI (Marshall, Holding, Garner etc) as well as other greats like Hadlee, Imran Khan and the great Aussie quicks and came in tough situations to rescue India. I don't know if a lot of people supporting Dhonii have watched Krimani play and followed cricket in that era. I have not seen Dhoni be a part of rescue team in tests when the backs are on the wall to save a test match. Also note that they did not have as much videos in those days to watch themselves or others to analyze.

  • on October 1, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    There is no doubt Kirmani was one of the best keepers India has produced. One comment however had me stumped. No captain under whom he played lived up to his expectations. Did he have captaincy ambitions himself? I wonder!

  • ravi_hari on October 1, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    Easily the best keeperIndia has produced. The fact that he did not have any formal training has actually helped Kiri as he kept with his natural ability and spontainity. He was not only safe behind the stumps but also made life difficult for batsmen when he stood up for spinners. He kept to the best spinners in the world, he kept to the best all rounder India has ever produced. He kept during India's best triumphs in Australia and in WC83. I too have that catch mentioned by Matt stuck in my memory. When ever I think of Kiri that catch comes as a flash.Brilliant is an under statement for Kiri. Added to his keeping his batting was both entertaining and very useful to the team. He invented the tennis volley type stroke which people use in T20s now. He was innovative while stealing runs and could have been an excellent T20 cricketer. He was dumped unceremoniously when he had atleast a couple of years cricket left in him. One of all time greats for India and the best keeper ever.

  • spurs3152 on October 1, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    Dear Syed Kirmani, I like your write up is great, you have best cricket. I agree with you Cricket is NO more gentleman's Wish you all the best in your future. Shirish Kotecha (Australia)

  • McGorium on September 30, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    @pitch_curator: Cricket stats can, and often are, misleading. Stats would suggest that Ganguly was as competent a batsman as Gavaskar; not even close. Stats would suggest that Gilly was a better keeper than Healy or Rod Marsh. Again, not even close. Also, you are just as guilty of cherry-picking one data point (diving catch of Sanga) to counter a general argument. Dhoni is a heavy-set man, and isn't as nible as many keepers. Dhoni frequently fails to cleanly collect the ball on an up-down pitch. I don't believe Dhoni could keep to Kumble on a "krumbler" the way Mongia did. India hasn't produced pitches like that in a while (or bowlers like that, for that matter). You're just as guilty of pushing your opinion (Dhoni>Kiri) as fact, using sophistry that is cricket stats. Do we know how many catches Dhoni has missed? Nah, we only know the ones he didn't. Do you know how many opportunities Kiri had to catch the ball, that he then converted? Negative. So, Dhoni>Kiri is just your opinion.

  • on September 30, 2013, 20:29 GMT

    kirmani could not play the first 4 years due to Engineer's presence. His last years were chopped short thanks to Vishwanath's emergence. yet he left an indelible mark.

  • inswing on September 30, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Kirmani, a great natural talent. "c Kirmani b Kapil Dev" was my favorite line on the scorecard for many years. Never read a book, LOL. He doesn't need to, but that's funny.

  • on September 30, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    @Dilip Singh

    You forget that Kirmani's times were different than that of today. Legendary as the spinners were, they did not provide catching opportunities to the keeper. A keeper benefits from pace bowlers. So Dhoni's stats being better is not exactly news given how India's bowling is now more traditional, pace-oriented abroad.

    This is not to say that Dhoni is not the best as India's wk-batsman combo, but that stats against different types of bowling are not really comparable.

    As to keeping to spin legends, the end of that era came in 1978, a mere two years after Kirmani began his test career when it was already on the decline.

    He was a better keeper than Dhoni is, but Dhoni has shown to be a far better batsman. Kirmani did not enjoy the luxury of having a strong batting lineup ahead of him, so his knocks were a lot more under pressure.

    So rate Dhoni higher, but the comparison based on stats from two drastically different eras and team composition? Bit iffy

  • pitch_curator on September 30, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    For all those guys saying Dhoni does not dive, check his catch of Sanga in Perth in last years tri series. There is always a segment of the public who simply say "In my days cricketers were much more skilled blah blah".. I dont want to argue with them because they dont talk objectively nor do they have the stats to justify their claim. At the end of the day, the game is about stats - runs, wickets, catches, stumpings. Over a long period of time, stats can not be an aberration. They give the true value of a player. I have given the stats of MSD and Kiri in my previous post. Kiri does not even come close. Techniques are waste if they dont produce results. Even the great Rahul Dravid agrees with it. Better to pick a gritty Chanderpaul who makes runs than a stylish Rohit who makes no runs. MSD over kiri in my team every day of the week.

  • nade123 on September 30, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    Kiri is the best Indian WK of all times. I remember this comment from Sir Boycott during a test in the early 90's, while he was commentator on StartTV, when Mongia was keeping for Kumble. Pitch was bouncy and Mongia would wear a helmet while keeping for Kumble. When Boycott laughed and said " Somewhere Syed Kirmani is laughing watching this...." :)

  • SamRoy on September 30, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    If I am selecting a wicket-keeper from All-Time India XI it has to be either Kirmani or his immediate predecessor Farokh Engineer. Kirmani didn't get a chance for 4 years because of Engineer that was how good Engineer was. Farokh was the better batsman and a fantastic keeper whereas Kiri was a decent bat and an even better keeper.

  • naresh_cricket_analyst on September 30, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    I am surprised Kirmani has not mentioned F Engineer name in this article. I thought they were good buddies but clearly not judging by this article.

  • on September 30, 2013, 17:38 GMT

    @kirgop. Kirmani used to wear a helmet. And even without a meaty bat, the likes of Dhoni are so superfit that they can hit the ball a mile. What about chasing a ball and throwing when there are no close in fielders? Dhoni would beat anyone from any era in that dept. Running between the wickets of course there is again no comparison. And how consistently did Kirmani score against "tearaway quicks"?He scored a total of 2 centuries and 12 fifties. A vast majority of his top scores were against New Zealand and England, two teams who did not have tearaways ( except one or two - Richard Hadlee for NZ and Bob Willis for England). He scored only one fifty against the West Indies, and only one against Pakistan- two teams which had tearaways.And he did all this without having to carry the burden of being a captain.

  • sharidas on September 30, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    Kiri was one of the best of his time and I like the interview....very frank. I see a lot of comparisons in many readers' comments....Why compare a 1983 Mercedes to a 2013 Mercedes...Both were good in their time !

  • Temuzin on September 30, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    Posted by Amit Bhatnagar on (September 30, 2013, 8:22 GMT) I remember Kirmani did not concede a single bye in an innings where Pakistan amassed 652/7 declared.

    Thast was no credit to Kirmani. That was credit to pakistani batsmen who did not let many balls to go to keeper. They were just whacking the balls to the boundary.

  • on September 30, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    @Vimalan Sadhasivam. If Kirmani is a better wicketkeepr, his catching and stumping should be better than Dhoni's. Considering that he had more opprotunities for catch and stupms, since he played with legendry spinners, his wicketkeeping stats should be a lot better. But it is not, in fact it is worse. He might have better technique and might be better to look at (like Rohit Sharma in batting), but when it comes to getting things done, Dhoni is better than Kirmani. And I would take Dhoni over Kirmani any day.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on September 30, 2013, 15:59 GMT

    Wow, in this picture he is wearing batting pads for wicket keeping. I thought they had wicket keeping pads by then .

  • Crichetfan on September 30, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    @ Sunil Vaidya, As i stated earlier , Like many Indians , iam also a great fan of Dhoni's overall cricketing abilities,but remember iam comparing only about wicket keeping skills between SK & MSD which SK is way ahead. When it comes to catching and stumping , both are good (Obviously one has to be good at International level) , but how do you judge who is best, like looking at his overall wicket keeping abilities right , where MSD is lacking. If you compare batting skills and leading the side MSD is way ahead , but that was not the topic.

  • KirGop on September 30, 2013, 15:05 GMT

    For people who think Dhoni is better than Kiri -

    1. take away Dhoni's meaty bat 2. Put him in Kri's typical 102/8 situation 3. Take away Dhoni's protective helmets ad put a cap on his head 4. Pitch in some tearaway fast bowler

    What percentage of Kiri do you think Dhoni would be?

    80% is my bet. Some may think Dhoni might excel but if you factor in the circumstances above, its more even than most might assume.

  • CricketChat on September 30, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Kirmani along with Engineer are the top 2 wicket keepers of all time for Ind. He was also a good batsmen, probably better than some of the more recognized middle order batsmen of those days, yet he used come so low in the order and rescued many an Indian innings.

  • on September 30, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    Agree with @Sunil Vaidya. Just compare the stats (Kirmani, Tests: 88, 160 Ct, 38 St, 27.04 av, 2 centuries, ODI: 49, 27 Ct, 9 St, 20,72 av, 0 cen; Dhoni, Tests: 77, 212 Ct, 36 St, 39.07 av, 6 cen; ODI: 226, 212 Ct, 75 St, 51.45 av, 8 cen). In batting and wicketkeeping (catches and stumping), Dhoni is better than Kirmani in Tests and ODIs. If Kirmani played against best spinners, his wicket keeping stats should have at least been better. In batting there is no comparison, period.

  • RamM1981 on September 30, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Amazing how certain wounds seldom seem to heal over time. I read in Sunil Gavaskar's "Idols" that when Venkat was selected for the 1979 tour of England, he was partly responsible for Kiri not being in the team for that tour because in the 1975-76 series in the West Indieis, Kiri had supposedly missed a number of chances off Venkat's bowling, which denied him wickets. Wonder if that's why Kiri mentioned "3 legendary spinners" leaving out Venkat who was considered part of the great "quartet."

    Also, he said, "No captain I played under lived up to my expectations. That is my assessment of who a leader is, who a captain is." Wonder why...

  • on September 30, 2013, 14:19 GMT

    did i hear somebody saying Dhoni a better WK than Kirmani ? As overall package, yes Dhoni is better. but when it comes to pure wicket keeping abilities there are legends like Kirmani, Engineer from India who were better than Dhoni any time. people who know only current TV stars may not be able to appreciate

  • njr1330 on September 30, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    A dinner with Kirmani, Knott, Marsh, Dujon and Taylor....My god, if only there had been a tape recorder on the table...the transcript could be sold for a fortune, as the last word on wicketkeping!

  • nareshgb1 on September 30, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    Amazing how people cannot accept praise being expressed for someone- to the gent saying Kumble won more matches than the "over-rated spin quartet" - matches are won by teams and not by one bowler or bowlers alone. In any case, its a question mark how many matches Kumble and co (NO - its not JUST Kumble) won overseas - probably more or less the same as Bedi and co.

    The word "match-winner" has unneccesarily changed the tone of cricket discussions - like its a sin to fight and lose. Come to think of it, when you are losing, there are probably 3 slips waiting for you (or your partner if the opposition decides you are much better than him) all the time - I cant understand how that is easier than when you are winning and there is no more than one slip after over no 15. Its probably the other way round.

    And in any case, there is no "match winner" - its a myth except in rare and exceptional circumstance. Overall team performance matters most of the time.

  • on September 30, 2013, 12:04 GMT

    Sunil Vaidya: Sunil, have you ever seen Dhoni's dives? No? I haven't either, and that's because he doesn't dive. He leaves catches for the slips to take.

  • on September 30, 2013, 12:03 GMT

    So much better than MS Dhoni in all respects as wicket keeper. He should be in the Alltime India XI.

  • on September 30, 2013, 11:13 GMT

    A lot is made of the famed quartet of spinners - Bedi, Prassanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkatraghavan. While no one is denying their greatness, how many matches have they won for India? They too keep talking about the fact that the modern day spinners don't flight, they don't have guile, etc, etc. But the fact of the matter is a single Anil Kumble has won more series for India than all the four of them put together. Harbhajan too has won us several test matches. Keeping to the likes of Anil Kumble , Venkatapathy Raju, Rajesh Chauhan, Narendra Hirwani, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Ravi Shastri, etc, would have been as difficult to keep as to the famed quartet. Time people come out of this "old is gold" mentality.Agreed that Dhoni is not attractive to watch as a keeper or a batsman. But the fact is that he is effective and wins matches. Period.

  • on September 30, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    Gritty cricketer with big heart, he used bat with Batsmen 9,10 and 11 and take the total to respectable, he had the privilege of spin quartet.best wicket keeper of India all times.

  • raj877 on September 30, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Mr balaji k 1968., why ur comparing kirmani to dhoni, dhoni is a match winner for INDIA, and ur dont no ,,,dhoni is better than any one in the world for spinners, i accept he is not good for moving ball againest pace only,, dhoni is better than( gilly ,bouther, kirmani.etc ),,,,for ur kind information please go & check stumpings of dhoni ....guys i am taiking only when he keeps up to wicket

  • on September 30, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Crichetfan, Wicketkeeping is an art but it is also about catching and stumping which dhoni has in plenty....I agree that dhoni does not seem to be too keen on diving around...but consider that other wicketkeepers were mostly only wicketkeepers...dhoni is a captain too and plays almost all matches rarely missing many due to injury or rest....he is very overburdened cricketer who plays all matches in all formats has so many responsibilities...imagine how tiring all this must be...i think that is one of the reason that he does not seem too keen on showing his diving skills...i dont have to tell you what it means to constantly sit up and down dive down and get up again... what with you being a wicketkeeper yourself...

  • indianpunter on September 30, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    why does an insightful interview by an yesteryear great always degrade on these forums into " him vs someone else from a different era". Cant we learn to appreciate without comparing? just my 2 cents.

  • YGSEETHARAM on September 30, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Kirmani was my elder brother's classmate in St Josephs Indian School during 1966-67. I clearly remember Kirmani standing in front of the notice board and trying to comb his non-existent hair even then! He was a good batsman and there was another good talent Manzoor, who never made it to the India team.

  • Crichetfan on September 30, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    @pitch_curator - With due respect to Dhoni (In fact iam a fan of him) when it comes to Wicket keeping , you can't even compare MSD with SK. SK is in a different class. To me Wicket keeping is an art (Being myself as a WK and played at failry high level) and not about catching and stumping. No doubt MSD has taken lot of cathces and stumpings , but when it comes to Diving he is the only WK in the world( Even in club level cricket) who doesn't know how to dive. Please check the video of MSD and other Wicket keeprs on diving. When the ball is too low he is the only WK in the world who stops the ball with his legs and because of that he has left so many byes. Unfortunately i could not find the statistics of number of byes left which iam sure MSD's would be more.

  • balajik1968 on September 30, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    Kirmani was a superior keeper to Dhoni. Once he went 1500+ runs without conceding a bye. He kept for most of his career to spinners, and spinners don't give too many catches behind the wicket. I would have loved to see Dhoni keep to the likes of Bedi, Prasanna and Chandra. With his technique, he would have struggled. I haven't seen Engineer or Kunderan or the others before, but I will say this, Kirmani is the best Indian keeper I have seen. Another crucial difference; Kirmani was selected for his keeping; his batting was a bonus. Dhoni was picked mainly for his batting; if you take keeping skills, Wriddhiman Saha is the best keeper in India now. Gilchrist was a one-off; all teams are unfairly trying to look more at the batting than the glove-work now.

  • Mittaraghava on September 30, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    Kirmani was primarily a middleorder batsman and wicketkeeping came to him naturally without much training is true.The end result was that he turned out to be an excellent wicketkeeper batsman during a phase when we had the best spinners in the world and also playing many useful knocks as a batsman .He stood up to the comparison of great wicketkeeper batsmen India had before him like Kunderan and Farook Engineer.His wicketkeeping in the worldcup final in 83 was pivotal.

  • on September 30, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    I remember Kirmani did not concede a single bye in an innings where Pakistan amassed 652/7 declared. I wonder if it was a world record at that time, and if so, if it still stands!!

  • on September 30, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Peter Jones, yes kiri was a decent keeper and played some good innings...i am saying dhoni is much better than kiri and was better than kiri in all respects...like pitch curator says even in ego and temperament....

  • pitch_curator on September 30, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    @ Peter_Jones -- FYI I am not a big Dhoni fan either. Lets talk objectively, shall we?? What are the career stats of Kirmani compared to that of Dhoni?? Has he played 20% of the match winning innings that Dhoni has played ? (Forget about the World cup final innings). In 88 matches Kirmani had 160 catches and 38 stumpings. In 77 matches Dhoni has 212 catches and 36 stumpings. And I am not even talking about his captaincy. Talk about onjectivity huh?? Come back with numbers and lets debate. lol

  • srikanths on September 30, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    Kirmani was a terrfic keeper. I recall some of his great leg side catches. He did have his bad moments, especially in one tour of West Indies, but he had several great moments. There is no point in comparing. Dhoni is very good , no doubts but memory is short, in another 15 years, people may start talking of how lucky Dhoni was and that his batting was the one which stood out etc once they see the next good keeper. there was a time when everyone talked of how Dhoni keept his place with his batting and that his keeping was inferior to Dinesh Karthik. He has grown i the job and has become a better keeper. Kirmani was very good to the unpredictable Chandra.

  • Adam_Leban on September 30, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    pitch_curator. You seem to have a first hand knowledge about Kiri's ego, how insightful. When your man crush over Dhoni diminishes, try to join the debate in a objective manner. Toddles.

  • Farce-Follower on September 30, 2013, 7:08 GMT

    Kiri was a fantastic keeper and a gutsy batsman. Was from the first golden era of Karnataka cricket - the legendary Vishwanath, Chandra and Pras, as well as Brijesh Patel and later Roger Binny.

  • pitch_curator on September 30, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    It is good to be nostalgic but the fact of the matter is that Dhoni is lightyears ahead of Kirmani in all aspects of the game (including his wicket keeping skills) and to top it all, Dhoni does not have half the ego this guy has. Just in case many of you did not know the character of Girish Karnad in the Hindi movie Iqbal was actually based on Kirmani.

  • RajeshNaik on September 30, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    Kirmani was a good wicketkeeper. But there were better keepers at that time. I wonder how he survived for so long. Occasionally some runs would come from his bat. But he still leaves no stone unturned to prove that he was the best saying youngsters today do not seek advice from him, only if Dhoni asks for advice he can give advice (heights of perceived self greatness), and so on, And now comes this - I excelled without knowing what wicketkeeping was all about. Will you give us a break Mr.Kirmani?

  • on September 30, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    MS Dhoni: I excelled without knowing what cricket was all about :)

  • Nathan_R_Patrick on September 30, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Comparing Kiri with Dhoni is foolish. Times are different. Dhoni has tons of support, guidance, resources available. Kiri had none of that. Imagine where kiri would be with the cricketing luxuries Dhoni is enjoying today. I've personally witnessed kiri's cartwheels while picking up the throws from fielders. Granted they were not as sharp fielders as anyone today. However, it made kiri's job even more difficult to convert a bad throw into a good one with a cartwheel pickup.

  • on September 30, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    With all respect to Syed Kirmani, sadanand vishwanath is the best keeper india has ever produced.. though his batting was not good enough.

  • vatsap on September 30, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    Great to hear from the indefatigable Kirmani. Would have been nice to see the picture of the Wicket keepers together from 1983. Not fair to compare Dhoni and Kirmani the expectations on wicket keepers have changed. It is like saying Rod Marsh/Healy were inferior to Gilchrist.

  • Adam_Leban on September 30, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Sunil. Calm down Dhoni fanboy. Back when Kiri was playing, he had to face some tough bowlers from WI and other countries. Plus, he didn't make a career of facing scrubs on flat decks. Kiri use to do a decent job of wicket keeping and played many crucial knocks down the order. One of India's best along with Engineer.

  • on September 30, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    Longmemory, I am afraid to say you seem to have a very short memory...dhoni is best indian wicketkeeper by distance...just check kirmani's wicketkeeping record with dhoni's wicket keeping record....kirmani does not hold a candle to dhoni's keeping abilities...similarly, your claim that on nearly every occasion when playing abroad kiri was a doughty fighter is laughable...here too dhoni has a much much better away record...

  • crick_sucks on September 30, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    The best wicket keeper India has ever produced. And he was quite good with the bat as well in those times when batting was not a must-have for the keeper. Sadly under rated player.

  • Longmemory on September 30, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    As a wicket-keeper, pure and simple, he was easily India's best ever. No one, not Engineer, not Dhoni, could hold a candle to his keeping abilities. He may be edged out of an all-time India XI by MS for his skills as captain and batsman, but as a pure keeper, he was the best by a mile. I also greatly admired his tenacity as a lower order batsman. When India was in crisis. which is to say on nearly every occasion when playing abroad, Kiri was a doughty fighter who really made you earn his wicket. I've lost count of the number of times the only reason we reached 3 figures as a team was his lower-order grit.

  • Longmemory on September 30, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    As a wicket-keeper, pure and simple, he was easily India's best ever. No one, not Engineer, not Dhoni, could hold a candle to his keeping abilities. He may be edged out of an all-time India XI by MS for his skills as captain and batsman, but as a pure keeper, he was the best by a mile. I also greatly admired his tenacity as a lower order batsman. When India was in crisis. which is to say on nearly every occasion when playing abroad, Kiri was a doughty fighter who really made you earn his wicket. I've lost count of the number of times the only reason we reached 3 figures as a team was his lower-order grit.

  • crick_sucks on September 30, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    The best wicket keeper India has ever produced. And he was quite good with the bat as well in those times when batting was not a must-have for the keeper. Sadly under rated player.

  • on September 30, 2013, 4:14 GMT

    Longmemory, I am afraid to say you seem to have a very short memory...dhoni is best indian wicketkeeper by distance...just check kirmani's wicketkeeping record with dhoni's wicket keeping record....kirmani does not hold a candle to dhoni's keeping abilities...similarly, your claim that on nearly every occasion when playing abroad kiri was a doughty fighter is laughable...here too dhoni has a much much better away record...

  • Adam_Leban on September 30, 2013, 5:03 GMT

    Sunil. Calm down Dhoni fanboy. Back when Kiri was playing, he had to face some tough bowlers from WI and other countries. Plus, he didn't make a career of facing scrubs on flat decks. Kiri use to do a decent job of wicket keeping and played many crucial knocks down the order. One of India's best along with Engineer.

  • vatsap on September 30, 2013, 5:24 GMT

    Great to hear from the indefatigable Kirmani. Would have been nice to see the picture of the Wicket keepers together from 1983. Not fair to compare Dhoni and Kirmani the expectations on wicket keepers have changed. It is like saying Rod Marsh/Healy were inferior to Gilchrist.

  • on September 30, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    With all respect to Syed Kirmani, sadanand vishwanath is the best keeper india has ever produced.. though his batting was not good enough.

  • Nathan_R_Patrick on September 30, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Comparing Kiri with Dhoni is foolish. Times are different. Dhoni has tons of support, guidance, resources available. Kiri had none of that. Imagine where kiri would be with the cricketing luxuries Dhoni is enjoying today. I've personally witnessed kiri's cartwheels while picking up the throws from fielders. Granted they were not as sharp fielders as anyone today. However, it made kiri's job even more difficult to convert a bad throw into a good one with a cartwheel pickup.

  • on September 30, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    MS Dhoni: I excelled without knowing what cricket was all about :)

  • RajeshNaik on September 30, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    Kirmani was a good wicketkeeper. But there were better keepers at that time. I wonder how he survived for so long. Occasionally some runs would come from his bat. But he still leaves no stone unturned to prove that he was the best saying youngsters today do not seek advice from him, only if Dhoni asks for advice he can give advice (heights of perceived self greatness), and so on, And now comes this - I excelled without knowing what wicketkeeping was all about. Will you give us a break Mr.Kirmani?

  • pitch_curator on September 30, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    It is good to be nostalgic but the fact of the matter is that Dhoni is lightyears ahead of Kirmani in all aspects of the game (including his wicket keeping skills) and to top it all, Dhoni does not have half the ego this guy has. Just in case many of you did not know the character of Girish Karnad in the Hindi movie Iqbal was actually based on Kirmani.