The Wicketkeeper’s Role in Twenty20 (T20) Cricket: Wicketkeeper or Batsman?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The context of the study is the current interest in T20, the newest format of the game, often considered to be the future of cricket. With cricketing priorities changing in the last decade, wicketkeepers are currently required to score runs heavily, with selectors sometimes sacrificing wicket-keeping quality. Such a philosophy is debatable, especially since the role of the wicketkeeper is largely ignored in academic research. As a contribution to the debate, using a basic method, this study sought to provide a greater understanding of the wicketkeeper’s contribution to a winning team’s performance. Should a wicketkeeper’s batting or wicket keeping ability carry the most weight, when selecting a team for T20 cricket? Using notational analysis, the study compared the performance of wicketkeepers from winning and losing teams, in relation to both their batting and fielding contributions, during the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Particular attention was paid to a specialist skill of wicket keeping, standing up to the stumps. Mann Whitney U tests identified a few significant differences between winning and losing teams. From a wicket-keeping perspective, winning wicketkeepers stood up to the stumps (3.07 4.42 deliveries) significantly more (p = 0.023) than losing wicketkeepers (0.69 2.07 deliveries), during the powerplay overs. During the non-powerplay overs, standing back emerged as significantly better in relation to both ‘Dot Ball %’ (p = 0.015) and ‘Wicket %’ (p = 0.002). From a batting perspective, winning wicketkeepers contributed in significantly more (p = 0.005) partnerships of 50 plus runs (8), than losing wicketkeepers (1). Results from both winning and losing teams confirmed the perception that wicketkeepers are generally expected to bat in the top order in T20 cricket. The study did not conclusively identify whether batting or wicket keeping should be the priority for selection of the wicketkeeper in T20 cricket. As a result, future quantitative research is required, using a larger sample, and qualitative research relating to professional perceptions of the wicketkeeper’s role.
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