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December 27, 2001
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The Rediff interview / Syed Kirmani

After me no one, says Kirmani

Faisal Shariff

Syed Kirmani is arguably the finest wicketkeeper-batsman to have played for India. He held 160 catches and had 38 stumpings in a Test spanning career around ten years. So when he talks about the role behind the stumps you have to take his words seriously.

Syed Kirmani "After me there has been no quality wicketkeeper in the country," says the eagle-headed member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team.

"Sadanand Vishwanath was the most gifted of the lot after I retired, but he was lost in the wilderness. Kiran More was good but had his limitations."

Kirmani feels the quality of wicketkeeping in the country is very low as there is none gifted for the job.

Enumerating the qualifications of a quality 'keeper, Kirmani says, "He should be a born wicketkeeper right from his childhood; not taking up the gloves at the age of 19-20. He must possess gifted reflexes and a good vision."

At a time when the problems behind the wickets are as profound as those in front of them, Kirmani is of the opinion that there should be a specialist to identify wicketkeeping talent in the country and coach them.

"Keeping is a pivotal place in any cricket team and only a specialist wicketkeeper with experience would identify such keepers."

The Madras-born former Karnataka wicketkeeper-middle order bastman has been appointed chief coach of the South Zone academy, which was launched last year, and will be working with the 'keepers from the south.

"I suggested to the board that all 'keepers be sent to the south for a camp for identification purposes but to no avail. I said that they must send me for one week to all the other zones and allow me to spend time there but that hasnít been done as yet."

Commenting on current Indian 'keeper Deep Dasgupta, Kirmani said he is too raw for international cricket.

"His induction has been too early and he is still there merely because of his luck with the bat. He is too raw with his basics. You canít be ready for international cricket with just one season in Ranji Trophy. Deep is a batsman who can keep, but then so can Dravid."

Ajay Ratra, according to Kirmani, is the ideal choice for the national team.

"Ajay has come through the system. He has played under-16, under-19 and has been part of the under-19 World Cup-winning team. He looks natural too."

Interviews

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