KL Rahul can be an all-format wicketkeeper in future

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24 Jul 2020 | 08:43 AM
authorVimal Kumar

KL Rahul can be an all-format wicketkeeper in future

In an exhaustive interview to cricket.com former India wicketkeeper and former chairman of the selection committee, Kiran More talks about wicketkeepers in India, whether KL Rahul is a future Test ‘keeper and more

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Cricket.com managed to catch up with former India stumper and the man who was a part of the selection panel that blooded MS Dhoni, Kiran More. Here are the excerpts of the interview:

It looks like we will have the IPL in a couple of months. Your thoughts on it.

I am keeping my fingers crossed. The English Cricket Board has set a great example by hosting two Test matches so far. I hope IPL happens this year as well. It will be good for cricketers and for the spectators. Things have to go on, but definitely, you have to take precaution – safety is very important. That is a very important area and what I am hearing from the media – it (IPL) is going to happen. 

Experts feel that fast bowlers take 4-6 weeks to get into a rhythm. How long does it take for wicketkeepers?

Wicketkeepers have to take a lot of catches, you have to field the ball, your fitness has to be very important. Running and short sprints are also very important for wicketkeepers. That’s called power training. Those are the areas we need to work on definitely.

Earlier, when we played, there was hardly any fitness when we were training. Now, most of the cricketers – they have their own gyms at home, plus there are things happening online, body weight exercises are there. There are so many ways of doing things now. So many ways of keeping yourself fit.

So, fitness won’t be an issue I think. Only thing, you don’t get is outdoor running – that makes a lot of difference. If it is a Test match, it takes a lot of time. If it’s a T20 and you’re bowling four overs, don’t think there will be that much of a load. So, I think 25-35 days is good enough for any cricketer. In 25 days, you’re training, you’re bowling – all the skill works plus you rest and might play a couple of matches. 

Everyone will need one month to get into their stride so that they are able to play matches.

Who is the best Test wicketkeeper among the current lot – Wriddhiman Saha or Rishabh Pant?

I don’t want to name the number one or number two. Both are good. I rate Saha as one of the best wicketkeepers in world cricket. I don’t want to compare. Saha is a very experienced wicketkeeper. When you compare a young 22 years old wicketkeeper, it’s not fair. He (Pant) has just got into international cricket. It’s like you’re comparing most of the wicketkeepers with (MS) Dhoni.

When Dhoni came, a lot of people criticised us – ‘from where you got this wicketkeeper’? He was not up to the mark, but now, he’s taken nearly a thousand victims. You have to give time to Pant as well. The thought process of the team, the selectors as well – what you’re looking at whether it be the future or process. If you fully believe in the process, I will go with Pant. He has not done badly, he has played around 12 (13) Test matches and taken 62 (61) victims. Those are good numbers, plus he’s scored two hundreds – that also in England and Australia.

You need to look at the batting line-up, the balance of the team. For me, I’ll pick Pant. But as a complete wicketkeeper, Saha undoubtedly is way ahead and I rate him number one in world cricket.

As a wicketkeeper and batsman across formats, Pant is someone you think is ahead of anyone else?

Of course, he has played 12 (13) Test matches now. Actually, when you go back and drop him and go back again, you start with zero. You have to believe in Pant and give him opportunities. Everyone goes through that. You look at the batters coming into Test cricket – they have taken some time. They’re not suddenly scoring hundreds in Test cricket.

Pant has scored two hundreds in Test cricket, plus he’s got 62 (61) victims. I will give my vote to Pant to carry on and believe in him because, in Test cricket, he goes to bat at six or seven, I think it’s the ideal position for him to bat. He can win matches single-handedly also. So, for me, Pant makes a lot of sense. Looking at the process and future of Indian cricket, I think it’s Pant for me.

Do you feel disappointed that Pant hasn’t got the backing from the team management? Or is this an unfair comment?

The only issue I had was during the time of the World Cup, I think they should have taken him from the word-go. Otherwise, you have to tell him what needs to be done.

I think he’s got fairly good chances – played 12 Test matches, a lot of ODIs and T20Is for India. The process is there. You need to wait and watch, you need to have patience with Pant. Don’t expect miracles. Wicketkeepers, I always believe that when you’re more experienced you become a better wicketkeeper and that’s what happens with opening batsmen also in Test cricket or any format of the game. But Pant, for me, definitely a match-winner.

Parthiv Patel in red-ball cricket and Dinesh Karthik in white-ball cricket – do these veteran wicketkeepers still have a chance or should India move on?

I think it’s very difficult for both of them. They’ve done great service for Indian cricket and still playing IPL. Dinesh is captaining KKR, he’s doing a fantastic job. Parthiv is playing for RCB and he’s been around for so many years.

For me, when I’m looking at the overall picture of the Indian team, the situation and the thought process of the selectors and team management, I don’t think they have a chance. But you never know, situations come like when Ashish Nehra came and played for India. 

Do you think KL Rahul can be a white ball wicketkeeper-batsman? What is your take on him? 

I will give you an example of Virender Sehwag. He came as an offspinner-batsman in the team then he became a leading scorer and one of the best batsmen and even a match-winner in Test cricket. So you never know what things can change. Rahul has got a natural ability of wicketkeeping. I had a word with him about 2 years back when they had come to play a match against Mumbai Indians. He had started keeping wicket at the time. That’s plus point for him. He has beautiful hands. It’s a healthy competition. KL has done very well and he has got an opportunity to keep in T20 and One-Day cricket and you might see him playing in Test cricket also as a wicketkeeper. I think Rahul Dravid has kept in around 75 ODIs. So KL Rahul can go on and if he works on his wicketkeeping he would get a good chance. It’s a competition.  Nobody waits for you. If he shows something different in his wicketkeeping, it’s a plus point. He can break a lot of records and can go on for India for other 10 to 12 years.  

You don’t rule out that in future KL Rahul could play as wicketkeeper in Test cricket as well. 

Of course. There are guys who have kept wickets for India team even international players like AB de Villiers also kept wicket for South Africa as a wicketkeeper-batsman. So if you have something special so you should show it to people, show it to the selectors. It becomes your plus point. That’s what KL Rahul has shown. For me, he looks a good committed wicketkeeper. There are some areas he needs to work. And if he works, the sky is the limit for him and he can go on to play in all formats. 

What is your take on young wicketkeepers like Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson and KS Bharat? 

They all are good wicketkeepers and batters. And they all are match-winners. If you look at their performance they all have done very well in domestic cricket and IPL as well. Sanju got the opportunity to keep wicket and play for India. If Ishan Kishan does well and scores runs, he will get into the Indian team. For me, they all are good batters and they need to work on their wicketkeeping, that will give them extra weightage for the selection. When you become a good and quality wicketkeeper, the captain feels that he is one of my best candidates as a wicketkeeper, who can create catches, who can create run-outs like MS Dhoni.

As a wicketkeeper you have to create something, you just can’t go and stand behind and just collect the ball and give back. You have to be a creative wicketkeeper behind the stumps not just standing and waiting for things to happen. All of them have great potential. But Sanju, Ishan, Rishabh, and even KL Rahul also need to work on their wicketkeeping.

We have not had another Kapil Dev yet. Can we say the same about MS Dhoni?

I don’t agree. You might get, you never know. Everyone said after Sachin Tendulkar, who’ll come? After Gavaskar who’ll come? But you never know from where you get these cricketers. Rishabh Pant can become the most dangerous wicketkeeper-batsman in world cricket. He’s got great potential. KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, they all have great potential. They have to work hard and when you get an opportunity, you grab it with both hands, just like MS Dhoni did when he came from nowhere. 

I’ll give you an example. When MS Dhoni was picked for India A tour to Kenya, he grabbed it with both hands. He scored about 600 runs. So, that’s what you need to do. When he came into the India team, he didn’t start well in the first 2-3 games. He got a few opportunities and scored a big hundred and stamped his arrival in international cricket. After that, he never looked back. 

The definition of a Wicketkeeper has changed. If you are no good with the bat, only wicket-keeping skills won't take you far. Your comment on it?

When you look at the balance of the team, you look at wicketkeeping. In T20 format you can get away. In ODI and Test cricket, it’s not easy because you need to have a good wicketkeeper and a batsman as well.

Wicketkeeping is very important. The wicketkeeper has to be creative. He can’t just stand behind the wickets waiting for things to happen. So, if you are taking a brilliant catch, brilliant run-out, brilliant stumping. Given the match situation in Test cricket – 150 for no loss - you take a brilliant stumping down the leg-side or take a diving catch. It’s a game-changer and you become a match-winner. 

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IndiaKannaur Lokesh RahulRishabh Rajendra PantSanju Viswanath SamsonIshan Pranav Kumar Pandey KishanKrishnakumar Dinesh KarthikParthiv Ajay PatelMahendra Singh DhoniKiran Shankar More

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