India in South Africa, 2006-07 November 24, 2006

Kirmani stumped by Dhoni's wicketkeeping technique

PTI



"I don't like the way he stands on his heels while waiting for the ball to be delivered,' says Kirmani about Dhoni © AFP

As if Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting woes were not disheartening enough, his wicketkeeping abilities are now being questioned by Syed Kirmani, the former Indian wicketkeeper.

"I don't like the way he stands on his heels while waiting for the ball to be delivered. A wicketkeeper should always be on his toes," said Kirmani, who was arguably India's greatest wicketkeeper as his record of Tests and victims testify.

Dhoni's batting slump, especially his vulnerability against the rising ball, has been a point of discussion of late but his wicketkeeping will need some analysis as well. Kirmani observed that Dhoni was not completely down when a ball was just about to be delivered, making him too committed to his movements and diminishing his reflexes.

"But that is hardly strange," Kirmani said. "Nobody in world is worried about the quality of wicketkeeping. You would look for bowling, batting and fielding coaches but no coach, I am sorry to say, knows a thing about wicketkeeping. You would have specialists in all areas including diet, training, cardio-vascular and what not, but a man who is central to the team's strategy in the middle is completely ignored."

Kirmani advised Dhoni not to be burdened by the added responsibility as a frontline batsman. "It is not a burden, he shouldn't take it as a burden because then he would only chart the route to his failure. He should take it up with enthusiasm. History has many examples where wicketkeepers have taken up the dual responsibility of shoring up the team's batting so it is not something unusual.

"That's been the trend worldwide and Dhoni is no exception. It's been [happening] for a long time now. I would even say that in nearly two decades since I have been out, I have hardly seen any natural wicketkeeper to catch my eye."

Kirmani picked out chinks in even Adam Gilchrist's wicketkeeping. "I am particularly shocked when wicketkeepers, even Gilchrist, collect balls swinging their arms sideways. Why don't they get behind the line of the ball. That's the surest way to ensure that the ball, if it misses your hands, could still bounce off your body."

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