Wicket-keeping legend Wasim Bari feels wicketkeeper batsmen have ceased to exist. “They all are batsmen-wicketkeepers,” comes the tongue-in-cheek remark.
“When we played, it was an era of wicketkeepers, but the requirement has changed now. The ODIs and T20 have made it mandatory that a wicketkeeper is more proficient in batting than in wicket-keeping,” he said, reminiscing the time when Syed Kirmani, Alan Knott, Rodney Marsh and the legend himself dominated the scene.
“That was a time when we saw wicketkeepers taking some exceptional catches and effecting stunning stumpings. But now we rarely see wicketkeepers taking stunning catches,” he said.
Bari though is impressed with “batsman-wicketkeeper” MS Dhoni. “Amongst the current crop of wicketkeepers, I like Dhoni the most. He is a good wicketkeeper, who gloves the ball well in the good old style. I think he’s as good as Kumar Sangakkara,” said Bari.
“Although slightly heavy for a wicketkeeper, clean glove work is his strength. But, yes, he isn’t Kirmani, I won’t put him in that bracket,” he said.
Bari is amazed how Dhoni handles the tasks of being a wicketkeeper, batsman and, above all, captain. “Being a wicketkeeper-batsman is challenging enough, if one has to lead the side too, it certainly needs exceptional abilities,” he said.
“There have been very few successful wicketkeeper-batsmen captains, and that’s why I feel he is an exceptional player and is doing a great job,” he said.
Dhoni’s leadership skills have also impressed the legendary wicketkeeper. “I think this Indian side is different in the sense that there are a lot of youngsters with promise. I would give credit to Dhoni for turning such a young side into a solid unit. He is a positive and aggressive captain and that’s rubbed on to the team as well,” he said.
But doesn’t Dhoni have too much load on his shoulders, especially in this era of non-stop cricket. “He is young and enjoying it. Good luck to him,” said Bari.