'Everyone's there just to criticise the young man and there is so much pressure on the poor guy.'
Former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer says young Rishabh Pant is under tremendous pressure after his poor showing with the gloves recently.
Engineer, who played 46 Tests and 5 ODIs for India, also identifies the major reason behind Pant's struggles as a wicket-keeper.
VIDEO: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
"Rishabh Pant is an extremely talented wicket-keeper but his technique is flawed, he gets up too soon," Engineer, 81, says while delivering the 10th Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture in Mumbai on Wednesday, December 4.
"Everyone's there just to criticise the young man and there is so much pressure on the poor guy. He is scared to even hold the ball in case it comes as a catch. These are the things that you should nurse a young wicket-keeper," he adds.
Pant, 22, lost his place in the Test side to Wriddhiman Saha following his poor showing in the West Indies while his place in India's ODI and T20I sides has also come under the scanner after a below-par showing with both bat and gloves.
Engineer says he had a chat with Pant during the World Cup earlier this year, but is hoping he could have had a few more sessions to improve the young wicket-keeper's technique.
"I had a chat with Rishabh Pant, he came to me at Old Trafford during during the World Cup. We had a long chat for half an hour. I wish I had him with me just for two or three net sessions, and he would be a much, much, much, better wicket-keeper," says flamboyant Farokh.
"I have the confidence, but you don't want to encroach on people's toes, there are batting coaches, fielding coaches and all that. What can the fielding coach tell Rishabh Pant about wicket=keeping?" he asks.
Engineer was renowned for his wicket-keeping skills especially on turning wickets against the famed India spin quartet of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Bishen Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan in the 1960s and early 1970s.
VIDEO: Satish Bodas/Rediff.com
Engineer believes that standing up to the stumps is tougher for a wicket-keeper than standing behind. "A guy with good reflexes and reasonable catching could stand behind. It's a lot lot easier standing behind than standing up to the stumps, especially for spinners or for the seamers."
"You are looking to stump the batsmen, you are trying to get the batsmen on the backfoot, so it is an advantage to the bowlers sometimes, he gets the chance for the LBW."
"I thought standing up was wicket-keeping," says Engineer, "and standing back is just back stop really. You can take diving catches and all that, but you can judge a wicket-keeper if he moves his feet."
"You don't want a wicket-keeper who stands still. If the nick goes, he dives at the last minute. You want the wicket-keeper to move in the direction the ball is going and following the ball, so you are halfway already there for the nick, either on the leg side or the off-side.
"Certainly standing up is real wicket-keeping. And anticipation -- you rise with the ball and that is why I was low -- the very basis of wicket-keeping," he explains.
Engineer praises Wriddhiman Saha who came in for much applause for his brilliant wicket-keeping skills during the recent home Test series against South Africa and Bangladesh.
"These days they have batsmen-wicket-keepers and not wicket-keepers-batsmen. Saha is a wicket-keeper-batsman, he is predominantly a wicket-keeper. You see him rise with the ball. It is difficult to stand up and going down again. You are wasting a fraction of a second which could be very useful for a quickfire stumping. You rise with the ball stay as long as you can."
TEXT: HARISH KOTIAN/REDIFF.COM