India’s Champions Trophy victory presents a good opportunity to bring this post about Twenty20 wicketkeeping to prominence once again. In a 20-over match, two of England’s top three were stumped by MS Dhoni and he could conceivably have had a third dismissal of that nature towards the end of the innings.
There were several pivotal events during the match, but you can certainly argue that Dhoni’s performance was match-winning, even though he didn’t score a single run. Set aside the debates about whether certain batsmen should or shouldn’t have been given out. Credit to Dhoni for giving the third umpire those decisions to make in the first place.
In low-scoring matches, the margins are finer. Byes are costly and missed catches are debilitating while a conjured stumping can all but decide a match. A makeshift keeper is something akin to a false economy.
This isn’t meant as an attack on Jos Buttler, by the way. He’s a cracking batsman and we feel he deserves his place in the side. His dismissal was as bad as anyone’s but if you want a reason for it, look to the fact that this was only his 14th one-day international (ODI). In a difficult final, the batsmen who did okay were Virat Kohli (103 ODIs), Ravindra Jadeja (70 ODIs), Eoin Morgan (102 ODIs) and Ravi Bopara (89 ODIs). In fact, Bopara’s confidence during the match is a good example of how a seemingly mentally fragile player can grow more robust with experience. Dhoni has played 224 ODIs, incidentally.
While confidence is hugely beneficial, skill is vital and Buttler’s keeping is not yet anywhere near Dhoni’s. Perhaps we should celebrate the fact that the team with the proper keeper won a global tournament.