'Dravid should not be forced to keep'

  • Qaiser Mohammad Ali (IANS), PTI, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 26, 2003 13:53 IST

Former India Test cricketer Hanumant Singh says a one-day wicketkeeper should be immediately found to relieve batting pillar Rahul Dravid of his added responsibilities of wicketkeeping.

"He has sacrificed tremendously for the country and that should be appreciated," the former dashing batsman said.

Dravid was asked to keep wickets in one-dayers primarily to enable the selectors, coach and the captain to give the option of picking an extra batsman or bowler in the XI.

The understanding between the selectors and Dravid was that he would do it during the 2003 World Cup, where he played a key role in guiding India to the final before Australia humbled Sourav Ganguly's outfit.

"We have to find a wicketkeeper (for one-dayers), we can't just go on and on with Dravid. We have to find someone and try him," Hanumant said.

"Just because he is prepared to solve your problem does not mean that you would thrust it on him all the time," he said.

He said he would not be surprised if Dravid is asked to continue in makeshift role in the upcoming triangular series against New Zealand and Australia.

Hanumant said Parthiv Patel, who keeps wickets in Tests, Ajay Ratra or Thilak Naidu could do the job.

The former prince of Banswara (Rajasthan) felt Karnataka's Naidu, the leading wicketkeeper of 2002-03 season with 29 dismissals, was talented and could improve if he worked hard.

"I saw him two-three years ago very briefly, but his attitude was a little lackadaisical," the 64-year-old said. "Wicketkeeping needs you to be always on your toes. You can't have a laidback attitude."

"Chottu," as friends call Hanumant, also wants an end to the unending trial for the two opening batsmen for Tests.

"Test cricket should have specialist openers. That is the most important thing," he said.

Hanumant lent his support to those who want India to prepare pitches that suits spinners.

"We must first have green tops, fast and bouncy pitches for local tournaments like Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and other cricket, so our boys can grow on them," he said.

Of the demand of the other camp that wants a change in thinking on preparing pitches that help spinners, he said: "There is no point in giving conditions that are favourable to the opposition."

A former selector, Hanumant acknowledged that India's pace bowling department has improved recently.

"Now that our strength is also in our pace bowling, if we think that it can help us, by all means, why not?" he said of a change in the pitch preparations that would help the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra.

"But that is for the people who are there to decide -- the captain, the coach and the rest of them," he added.

Hanumant was happy to see all top players, for a change, turned out in the just-concluded Irani Trophy tie between the Rest of India XI and Mumabi at Chennai.

"That's how it should be in all times, otherwise the whole purpose (of organising domestic tournaments) is defeated. It is meaningless to watch the second string of players playing.

"If the selectors want to watch them, they can do that in other matches. Irani Trophy should always be between the best of the rest (against the Ranji Trophy winners) - that's how it was meant to be."

A special conditioning camp preceded the Irani Trophy for the country's top 40-odd players at Bangalore - a 'first' in the history of Indian cricket.

One reason was that top players were returning to the game after an unusual long five-month break from international cricket and needed to be fit for the upcoming home series against New Zealand.

Hanumant, however, welcomed the long break for members of the Indian team.

"Definitely, too much international cricket is being played these days," he said.

"Firstly, the boys must get time off from cricket and, secondly, national cricket should not be sacrificed, certainly not. We have to strike a balance," he stressed.

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