The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Healy against Dravid keeping
‘A batsman may succeed with gloves but it’s unrealistic to expect them to be either a Adam Gilchrist or Andy Flower’

Cape Town: Former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy is critical of India’s choice to entrust Rahul Dravid with the behind-the-stumps responsibility in the World Cup, saying the team was taking too much of a risk.

“I am worried about it. I wouldn’t have been worried if it was a Test series but in an event as important as World Cup, a specialist wicketkeeper is a must,” Healy said.

“If Dravid drops one crucial catch, it could keep India out of a critical game. It might keep India out of the competition,” he said.

Healy said he had never seen Parthiv Patel in action but felt the reserve wicketkeeper would be a far better proposition than Dravid, only because he is a specialist choice. “I haven’t seen Patel but a specialist wicketkeeper is a far better choice than a makeshift one,” he maintained.

Healy also dismissed the notion that Dravid’s double role allows India to go into a ODI with seven batsmen. “I don’t think it’s a balance. I think his batting on whole has suffered because of his wicketkeeping. If he drops a batsman of Tendulkar or Lara’s class in an important stage of the innings and he goes on to get a big score, then you need 11 batsmen and not just one,” said Healy.

“As far as I can see, it is affecting Dravid’s batting. He faces double pressure and it’s not good for the team,” he further added.

He said though it was preferable if a wicketkeeper also has batting prowess, it must be taken as an additional feature for a wicketkeeper rather than the main reason for him to be in the side.

“I agree wicketkeeping is not rigorous in one-dayers as batsmen don’t leave too many balls and the keeper doesn’t have to do much.

“But it’s a critical area and one which needs to be stressed on. A batsman may succeed with gloves but it’s unrealistic to expect them to be either a Adam Gilchrist or Andy Flower.”

Healy rated Gilchrist as an excellent wicketkeeper but considered South Africa’s Mark Boucher as more solid and consistent. “Gilchrist had an average summer with the gloves last year but when he is in form, he is very good. But in my opinion, Mark Boucher is consistently a very good wicketkeeper. He is very solid and works hard. Next to them is a young breed of wicketkeepers who are talented but would take at least two years to make the grade.”

Healy rated Australia as the team to beat in this World Cup but felt the nature of one-day cricket implies an upset could happen any day.

“Australia look to me the team to go all through, but then if you could get the wrong side of toss, and the wrong side of a Tendulkar or a Sehwag, the game could be over before you realise it.”

“It is hard to make a tip on the winner but Australia and South Africa appear favourites with India, Pakistan and New Zealand looking the best of the rest. I would feel one of these five teams would be triumphant but then the West Indies and Sri Lanka on a good day could be winners.” Healy also said it was pointless to debate upon Steve Waugh’s omission in the Australian Side especially since his successor Ricky Ponting is doing so well.

“It’s time the talk on Ricky stops. Waugh is no longer on the scene, he was left-out of the one-day squad against New Zealand at least a year ago. Ponting seems to have settled well in his new role.”

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