Legendary Indian cricketer, MS Dhoni has always been known as one of the quickest wicket-keepers behind the stumps apart from his captaincy, finishing skills, and calm demeanor on the field. The former Indian skipper, hardly gave those extra few seconds for a batter to return to the crease as often whip the bails off in a flash. He has set a benchmark with his ability to be precise behind the wickets. The Chennai Super Kings stalwart had issues with his glovework at the start of his career but he evolved into one of the finest in the game.
However, MS Dhoni finished his international career with 829 dismissals, including 195 stumpings – the 3rd most successful wicketkeeper across all formats. He is only behind Mark Boucher (998) and Adam Gilchrist (905). However, Dhoni leads the list when it comes to the number of stumpings – 195. At a recent Livfast event, Dhoni explained that the freedom that his mentor Kiran More gave during the early stage of his international career helped him evolve.
MS Dhoni had said, “When you keep wickets while playing with a tennis ball, it’s important to have soft hands. When you have hard hands, the ball lips out. As far as wicketkeeping with the leather ball is concerned, I got a lot of help. Initially, when Kiran More was a selector, he used to be around the team. He helped me a lot with my keeping, with my drills. What I really liked was, he understood my wicketkeeping technique was unique and that I was not copybook style.”
Dhoni cut down on microseconds by going against convention as he had the habit of not pulling his hand back while collecting the ball but kept bringing his hand forward and snatching it. The unconventional but effective technique made him pull off some amazingly fast stumpings over the years.
Explaining the method to the madness, MS Dhoni said: “Over the last 50 years, keepers have been doing the same. They say in cricket that you give, i.e. when the ball is coming at you, you are supposed to receive the ball. I said ‘why do you need to receive the ball?’ The gloves we have, it has rubber and inside the rubber, there is cotton. So it’s already quite soft. So, I don’t have to give (receive), I can actually snatch the ball, more often than not.”
The answer was to my question of how he evolved his wicket keeping over the years specially in context of run outs and Stumpings ! #Sathayeclasses
— Vikram Sathaye (@vikramsathaye) September 22, 2022
MS Dhoni explained that Kiran More helped him a lot with his wicketkeeping drills and it was only because of the confidence he gained from practice that helped him try out different things on the field.
Former skipper explained, “He said ‘okay, forget copybook. We will do drills, which is important’. At the end of the day, what is important is you’re catching every ball, you are not missing anything. You may have a slightly different technique. And once you become more and more confident about your skill, over the years, you start getting that confidence where you are willing to experiment also. You are willing to bring in something different that can help the team.”