Wicket keeping insight from @paulnico199 in MCC Academy Masterclass

Yesterday I enjoyed a really challenging (and unexpectedly energetic) coaching masterclass with Paul Nixon (@paulnico199).

The word that came up most often (after the phrase  “just catch it first”) was “timing”.  And not so much in taking the ball, but when to rise from the crouch.

I had always understood that the keeper should stay down in his crouch until the ball pitched “because it is harder to go down than to stand up”.  So Paul’s advice to rise to the “ready position” as the bowler’s arm approached the vertical was new.

And that ready position was to be carefully calibrated to the pitch and the bowler – the keeper, retaining his strong “Z” posture, should stand until his gloves were at the predicted height of the bounce for a good length delivery.

Head and hands should then stay at the same levels throughout any subsequent lateral movements.

Paul’s insight explained an observation from 2014 that had puzzled me.

Watching Essex vs. Worcestershire at Chelmsford, in late-September sunshine.  Worcs’ keeper Ben Cox standing up to Jack Shantry.  Cox bobbed down into his stance as Shantry approached the crease, patted the ground beside the stumps with his gloves, and bobbed back up again.  So much movement, with no discernible still moment to sight the ball; most certainly not waiting for the ball to pitch before moving.

Oh, and pretty much every delivery gloved cleanly and with minimal fuss.

Following the Nixon prescription for the keeper’s “trigger”, and rising into the “ready” position just before the ball was released.  Cox’s still moment to sight the ball was minimal, but from the way he took the ball that moment must have been quite sufficient.


Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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  1. There is some evidence that BOTH methods are effective and you simply need to find the one that works best for you. People who lead more with the feet and keep their chin up naturally do better by staying super low. People who “nod the ball in” (lead with the head) do better with what you described above.

    I am super jealous of your session!

    1. Agreed – more than one way to perform any skill. Paul did mention different catching techniques, based on “head- or feet-first” tendencies, but the “early rise” seemed pretty universal.

      By delaying the rise to the “ready”/Z posture until the ball pitches, you reduce the time available to move your feet before taking the ball. And if you are standing up to the wicket, that could leave you too little time to get head and hands in line with a wider delivery.

      Less of an issue if you can catch “hands only”, but challenging, nonetheless.

      1. Just thinking about this again.

        What I have described as “rising” as the bowler’s arm reaches the vertical might be better described as “assuming the (Z) position”. On a pitch where the ball routinely bounces stump high, the gloves need to be at that height; on a low bouncing strip, the hands might not get more than 10″ off the ground – hardly “rising” at all, in fact.

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