Cape Town: Syed Kirmani is here as a loyal fan cheering the Indian team in its pursuit of the World Cup but the country's greatest wicket-keeper is also a worried man because he feels having a non-specialist behind the stumps isa risk. "Having Rahul as the wicket-keeper is like asking a 10th standard student to appear for B.Com exams. Simply put he is not a specialist wicket-keeper," said Kirmani.Kirmani played 88 Tests for India and effected 160 catches and 38 stumpings, some of them so breathtaking against the world class spinner trio of Bishan Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrashekhar that it is still talked about with a sense of wonder.
"Rahul is doing a good job. He has an excellent temperament and can pull off brilliant catches but on a poor day, a dropped catch or a missed stumping could also cost the team dearly," said Kirmani who bid adieu to internationalcricket in 1985-86.Kirmani strengthened his case by drawing a parallel with South African keeper Mark Boucher or for that matter Alec Stewart and Adam Gilchrist who have missed a few catches in this World Cup.Boucher dropped five chances in the tournament, including those of Brian Lara and Stephen Fleming, who both stroked hundreds and heaped defeat on South Africa. "Dropped chances are part of the game. Probably Boucher must have felt he would swallow that chance.
That's why you could never afford to be complacent," Kirmani said."I recall in my days to have dropped Graeme Fowler of England off a sitter and he went on to make a double century in the Madras Test in the 80s." Kirmani did not agree with the viewpoint of Indian coach John Wright who has said a specialist wicket-keeper is wasted in One-dayers as hardly 5 per cent deliveries go behind the stumps."Everyone has his opinion. But in my view it is a specialist's job. Be it Tests or One-dayers, one vital catch and dropped chance could make all the difference." Kirmani blamed it on the change of technique by the wicket-keepers which is causing elementary mistakes behind the stumps. "Techniques have changed, there are a lot of innovations but I am not for changes.
You have to be copybook, get behind the ball and not look to be side on. If you are side on and the catch is dropped, you can't recover. That's why Alec Stewart and Adam Gilchrist have also dropped chances in this World Cup."As against this, if you have your body behind the ball, there could be another chance for you to grab the ball," he said. Kirmani blamed the Indian administrators for changing wicket-keepers often and not allowing youngsters to settle down to their new job. "They didn't have confidence in Vijay Dahiya, Ajay Ratra and the other keepers who stood behind. Unfortunately, they should have been persisted with," Kirmani said.
"They have changed wicket-keepers like they do with shirts. It's not the way to go with wicket-keepers. India must look for a specialist wicket-keeper after the World Cup and use the services of an excellent young keeper in Parthiv Patel."Kirmani did not deem it fit to compare the present team with the World Cup winning team of 1983 of which he was a member. "It's not right to compare the two eras. It's unfair. But this team can win the title.
I did say so even when everyone was criticising the team for performance in New Zealand. I had said it was a blessing in disguise and will act as an inspiring factor for the team."Kirmani watched the Tendulkar special against Pakistan last week from the stands and was quick to compare it to Gundappa Viswanath's unbeaten 97 against Andy Roberts and company of the mighty West Indies in 1975. "It reminded me of Vishy's 97 in Chennai. When everyone was crumbling around him, Vishy stood like a Rock of Gibraltar.
Tendulkar too played a brilliant knock. I wish he had got his hundred. Sitting in the stands and sharing those sentiments with the crowd was a fascinating experience," theformer wicket-keeper said. Kirmani then went down the memory lane and said nobody has come closer to Bedi, Prasanna or Chandra not even Shane Warne. "Shane Warne is a class act but Chandra was different. If you ask me, the greatest leg spinner of all time could have been L Sivaramakrishnan. He had the variety which Shane Warne does not have, nor for that matter Abdul Qadir."Kirmani, who played in an era when there was no protective gear for wicket-keepers as such, advocated the use of helmet in modern era for keepers. "There are protective gears these days. During my time there was no helmet. But I am for using them. Why not protect your nose or face if you have the equipment?" PTI