The nature of the job is such that a wicketkeeper attracts attention only when he commits a howler, but his challenge will be as taxing as that of a batsman looking to come to terms with the vagaries of a turning pitch.
Jos Buttler, who will don the gloves in the first Test before returning home, is looking at his role as an opportunity to stay in the game all the time rather than get bogged down by the pressure.
“Keeping wickets in India is a big challenge obviously, with the pitches turning. But it’s also a great place to keep wickets because you feel like you’re always in the game. Wicket-keeping in spinning conditions is a lot of fun,” Buttler said.
Once Buttler leaves, Ben Foakes – who has only played five Tests so far – is expected to take over the gloves. According to Foakes, keeping against the pacers in Asian conditions is as hard as keeping up to the stumps against spinners.
“Standing back to the seamers is a real challenge purely because you stand much closer than in English conditions. It cuts down the reaction time for edges,” Foakes pointed out during a virtual media interaction on Sunday. “You also have to stand up to the stumps for long periods of time against spin. You have to concentrate hard knowing that the ball is going to spin sharply,” he noted.
Foakes also weighed in on the perennial debate between opting for a better wicketkeeper or a better batsman who can keep wickets. India, too, have had to grapple with the issue in the last couple of years when choosing between Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant.
“You need a blend of both. You can’t have someone who makes loads of mistakes as a keeper but scores runs. At the same time, no matter how good a keeper you are, you have to contribute with the bat. It depends on the balance that a team wants to go with,” was Foakes’ assessment.