Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Keepers' by Malcolm Knox

Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Keepers' by Malcolm Knox

The Keepers: The Players at the heart of Australian Cricket

by Malcolm Knox

Viking, $45 hb, 400 pp, 9780670078523

Second ball, day three of the 2014 Boxing Day Test match and Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin dives full length in front of first slip Shane Watson to catch Indian number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara off Ryan Harris single-handed in the webbing of his glove. Virat Kohli replaces Pujara, and in the last over of the day he is still there, with 169 runs. He flashes and gets a thick edge to a ball by Mitchell Johnson. Haddin again dives wide to his right and takes another brilliant catch. Either miss could be forgiven: the first for the player not having removed sleep from his eyes, the second for visualising the froth on a beer after play. These were two of the most remarkable wicket-keeping dismissals I have witnessed, but they passed without comment.

Fast-forward half a year to the first morning of the first Ashes Test at Cardiff. England's batting is in strife at 3 for 43. Joe Root comes to the crease and is almost cleaned up first ball. Next ball he edges to Haddin, who dives full length to his right, only for the ball to rebound from his glove to the ground. Within minutes slow-motion replays have shown the miss ten times. Trial by technology! What could have been 4 for 43 becomes 430, and England goes on to win the match. Armchair experts in Australia immediately call for Haddin to be dropped from the side.

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Bernard Whimpress

Bernard Whimpress

Bernard Whimpress is a writer, historian, and former curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum. A member of the Australian Society for Sports History, Bernard has written twenty books mainly on sport, including The Official MCC Ashes Treasures, Passport to Nowhere: Aborigines in Australian Cricket 1850–1939, The Greatest Ashes Battles and as co-author The History of Australian Cricket. He published and edited the Australian cricket journal Baggy Green from 1998 to 2010.

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