The role of a wicketkeeper in the game of cricket has evolved drastically in the last two decades. Prior to the Adam Gilchrist and MS Dhoni eras, which redefined wicketkeepers as all-rounders, the world had seen specialist keepers in the names of Ian Healy, Syed Kirmani, Moin Khan, and Jeff Dujon, among others. They found a place in the team mainly because of their glovework.
However, for a modern-day wicketkeeper, his batting skills matter as much as his prowess behind the stumps. If a team has to choose between a pure wicketkeeper and a wicketkeeper-batsman, they prefer the latter as that player adds depth to the side and brings in more balance. A fitting example in today’s world being Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant. One can easily guess who is who.
Former India captain, Dilip Vengsarkar is of the same opinion. While speaking to Cricket Next, the Indian batting stalwart stated that while it is handy to have a wicketkeeper who can score, one should not have a fixed idea about certain things.
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“It depends according to the situation. You cannot have a fixed idea about certain things. The wicketkeeper is a very important position in the team. Besides effecting stumpings and run-outs, if he is batting well, why not? If you have someone like Rishabh Pant, who can change the complexion of the match with his batting also, that is a huge advantage for the Indian team. You cannot have a fixed mind and say wicket-keeping comes first. If you are improving as a wicket-keeper, why not? Same thing happened with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He kept improving,” said Vengsarkar.
India’s swashbuckling player Rishabh Pant has grown at a meteoric rate to cement his place in the team. He was heavily criticized for his glovework until a few months ago but ever since India’s tour of Australia Down Under, Pant improved massively in both departments. He has replaced Saha who lost his place due to uninspiring returns with the bat.
Pant, along with the Virat Kohli-led Indian team, will depart for the UK on June 2. They will first play the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand between June 18 and 22 in Southampton. After that, they will lock horns with the host country in a five-match Test series.