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.