Kiran More’s advice to Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant: anticipate, but don’t move fast

When the India vs England Test series gets underway on Wednesday in Birmingham, the visitors will for the first time in over a decade have a new wicketkeeper doing duty, and former India stumper Kiran More has some advice for him: Wait for the ball as long as possible and be still, very still.

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In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, the former India wicketkeeper, who made his Test debut at Lord’s in 1986, stressed on the importance of anticipation. “The key is not to move too much in those conditions. Sudden, jerky movements are an absolute no-no. Soft hands are very important. With stiff hands you will struggle,” said More. “You have to wait for the ball to come to you, and try and take it close to the body. You have to be in the right position, and get behind the line. You cannot collect it on the side.

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Dinesh Karthik is the prime contender to keep wickets in the first Test at Edgbaston given his experience and the fact that the did the job in India’s previous Test in June with Wriddhiman Saha injured, while the uncapped Rishabh Pant is the reserve wicketkeeper. While Karthik has played three Tests in England, he has never kept wickets. MS Dhoni kept wickets in the Test series win in 2007, the 0-4 whitewash in 2011 and the 1-3 loss in 2014.

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“In England, the ball can dip sharply after it passes the stumps and there is also late movement, when it is about two-three feet away from you. It is like a snake slithering this way and that.  A keeper’s first tour to England is always difficult. Even (MS) Dhoni had problems in 2007, I had a few as well in 1986. Luckily I had played league cricket in England before my Test debut. So I was aware of the challenges to an extent,” added More, who is working with young wicketkeepers at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

The second India vs England Test is at Lord’s from August 6 and More singled that out as tough to keep at.

“Some grounds in England can really give you a surprise. The Oval (in London) is mostly normal, and Edgbaston (in Birmingham) is not that bad. But Lord’s and Leeds are the most problematic grounds for a keeper,” he said. “Because of the slope at Lord’s, the ball comes in or moves further away (depending on which end the bowling is happening from). Based on that, you have to anticipate and take an extra step either to the right or to the left. Else what happens is the ball can often fly down the leg side or through the slip cordon.”