Cape Town: Former Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy is critical of India's choice to entrust Rahul Dravid with the keeping 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 wicket-keeper 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, who took part in three World Cups for Australia and has a record 397 dismissals in his long career of 119 Tests, said he had never seen Parthiv Patel in action but felt the reserve wicket-keeper would be a far better proposition than Dravid only because he is a specialist choice. "I haven't seen Patel but a specialist wicket-keeper is a far better choice than a makeshift one." Healy dismissed the notion that Dravid's double role allows India to go into a One-day International with seven batsmen. "I don't think it's a balance. I think his batting on whole has suffered because of his wicket-keeping.
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," Healy said. He said though it was preferable if a wicket-keeper also has batting prowess, it must be taken as an additional feature for a wicket-keeper rather than be the main reason for him to be in the side.
"I agree wicket-keeping 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. A batsmen 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 wicket-keeper 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 wicket-keeper. He is very solid and works hard. Next to them is a young breed of wicket-keepers 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.