One of his problems is, he doesn't use his feet. When you stand back to seam bowlers you've got to move your feet and get your body behind the line of the ball. You can't afford to wait for the last second before moving. If they nick it and the nick's wide, you need to be moving, sort of half-anticipating it. Prior has to be a bit more agile on his toes and get his body behind the line of the ball.
It does come as a bit of a surprise. If it is an overseas wicketkeeper, like [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni who hasn't had a lot of experience keeping in England, then you can understand it because the ball definitely deviates off the seam and through the air more in England than it does abroad, due to the atmospheric conditions.
He can certainly improve. He obviously has got the ability to improve. With proper coaches at hand it is definitely possible to make the correct changes.
Yes, there is definitely a role for a wicketkeeping coach. But I don't know if there is individual coaching or advice available for international wicketkeepers. Wicketkeeping coaching is a specialist subject. I am a cricket coach and to this day I can't express clearly to a bowler how to hold the ball, about his action and so on - I haven't got a feel for it. Likewise a bowling or batting coach who has never kept wickets will have no feel. With wicketkeeping, the most important thing, apart from getting the body behind the line of the ball, is concentration - an area I specialise in.
When you keep to a quick bowler the two priorities are the speed of the bowler and the pace of the wicket. The general rule is, you take the ball about waist-high usually. Now if you are taking the ball at ankle height then you are standing too far back. That is the main problem with wicketkeepers today: they stand too far back. So if the batsman nicks it, he takes the pace off the ball, which means it will hardly carry to the wicketkeeper, and it certainly won't carry to the first slip. And there's nothing worse for a fast bowler who is striving to get a nick, and when eventually the batsman does nick it, it doesn't get carry to the wicketkeeper or a slip. That's a crime.
I am sure they do work, certainly the international keepers. They must, they have to.
|If you look at cricket history, the successful teams always have had an excellent fielding side, and good fielding sides are led by their wicketkeeper|
The first slip's position is governed by where the wicketkeeper stands, particularly with the fast bowlers. Generally speaking, the first slip is at least a metre or a metre and a half behind the wicketkeeper and wide by a simlar distance, and then the second slip is in line with the wicketkeeper. Again, with experience you talk with the slip fielders and you know exactly where to stand.
If there is a right-arm fast bowler and you've got a right-hand batsman, I say to wicketkeepers: as soon as you see the line of the ball going down the leg side, start to move. Don't wait for it to go past the batsman, otherwise that's too late, particularly if the ball swings. In English conditions the ball dips and swerves late, so as soon as you read that the ball is going down leg, you have to be on your toes; your feet have got to be moving. That way if a batsman gets a nick down the leg side, one can convert half-chances.
Yes, because the captains and the coaches have this temptation to choose a batsman-wicketkeeper. As long as he can bat it doesn't matter, he is a back-stop. For me that is wrong. You've got to have a true wicketkeeper. Duncan Fletcher thought it was easier to make Geraint Jones into a Test wicketkeeper than it was to make Chris Read, who Jones took over from, into a Test batsman. It didn't work.
You've got to have a certain amount of ability, haven't you? Yes, wicketkeepers are born not made, but you can improve if you have got any ability. You need the intelligence and the ability and then you can improve a lot if you work hard at your game.
It's the same, isn't it? You've got to be in the right place at the right time and that comes with experience and natural ability. Good wicketkeepers miss fewer chances? Good wicketkeepers are able to convert half-chances into chances, diving inches from the ground, catch a ball that wouldn't carry to slip, and things like that.
When people ask me who is the most difficult bowler I have kept to, I tell them without sounding blasé: "It isn't the bowler, it is the conditions." As an English cricketer travelling to the subcontinent, where the wickets were flat when I played and there were world-class batsmen who were hardly beaten by our bowlers, I became redundant. The only time I was fielding the ball generally was when the ball was being thrown back from the boundary. So for most of the day when the conditions are hot and sticky, the batsmen are striking the ball all around the ground, you've had nothing much to do. Then in the last over of the day suddenly the batsman nicks it or you miss a stumping and that batsman is there the following day and its odds-on he'll get a hundred. Now that's what wicketkeeping is all about: taking that difficult chance in the last over of the day after a hard day's fielding.
That might be due to the influence of one-day cricket where a lot of wicketkeepers stand back because the captains are bowling quick bowlers all the time, so they don't get much chance to stand up to the stumps.
Yes. When people ask me who I think is the best wicketkeeper ever, I would say Ian Healy, because Healy and Shane Warne complemented one another: Ian Healy made Shane Warne into the best legspinner of all time and Shane Warne made Ian Healy into the best wicketkeeper. If Healy had missed some of those catches and stumpings, Warne wouldn't have 700-plus wickets. The rapport is something that grows; you build it up with experience and talking.
If you drop a catch, that's history. You can't bring it back, and you know the very next ball you could do the same again. So you just ought to forget it, drop it out of your mind and think about the next ball, because if he nicks the next one and you drop it, you're doubly at fault.
When he is dropping the ball, when he is missing and dropping catches. Basically, whenever you are keeping well you don't think of what you are doing, you just do it automatic - this is a natural wicketkeeper. An unnatural, or a wicketkeeper of lesser ability, has more risk of missing chances, so it is going to be doubly harder for him.
It's very difficult. There haven't been any successful wicketkeeper-captains. Alec Stewart tried to captain, open the batting and keep wicket. That's three jobs and it was impossible. A wicketkeeper is better off being the captain's right-hand man. He can advise the captain and inform him about what is happening around.
No. Categorically no. I would never advocate it. The thing that Matt Prior and few others are doing nowadays, this sledging business, of getting on to the batsman and trying to pressure him into playing a bad shot ... it's a load of rubbish because while you are doing that you are not concentrating on your job. Whenever I coach youngsters I tell them to forget about what goes on on television with these international players and just concentrate on what they are doing. The only way I would allow a wicketkeeper to shout around is to encourage his own bowlers and fielders, not at the opposition batsman. It is totally out of order in my book and its not part of the game.
I doubt it. I don't think so. I kept wickets for England in nearly 60 Tests, and contributing largely to that was the fact that we had a certain Ian Botham. Botham would bat at No. 6 or 7, while I came in at 8 or 9. They could afford to play me because Botham was a genuine allrounder who used to get runs and wickets to help you win the match.
|That's what wicketkeeping is all about - taking that difficult chance in the last over of the day after a hard day's fielding|
I'm not sure there are. The last one was Ian Healy.
First and foremost, whenever I'm coaching kids I always say the second most important member of a cricket team, at whatever level, next to the captain is the wicketkeeper. You pick a wicketkeeper for his wicketkeeping ability. When you've got somebody like Adam Gilchrist who can bat and keep wickets then you are very lucky, but if the decision is marginal I'll always go for a wicketkeeper-batsman rather than a batsman-wicketkeeper. That's because an inferior wicketkeeper is always found out and there can be a costly miss, like Matt Prior's drop of Tendulkar in the first innings at The Oval last week.
Nagraj Gollapudi is assistant editor of Cricinfo Magazine