The traits of a glovesman vary. His trace has to be invisible. For instance, take the strange cases of Probir Sen at Cuttack taking the hat-trick in First Class cricket against Orissa in the 1954-55 season; or A.C.Smith for that matter who was guilty of it in 1965 versus Essex at Clacton playing for Warwickshire.
Both of these men share the distinction of having carved a niche of being the only wicketkeepers to have achieved such a feat. Add to that the fact that A.C.Smith was a front-line bowler.
Legends and lore further mention the story of Alan Knott, unarguably one of the greats, if not the greatest, who put meat steaks or plasticine in his gloves for cushioning purposes. Knott also used to roll down his sleeves to protect his elbow from bruises while diving and warm his hands with hot water before every match. In addition, part of his curriculum included giving catches in the shower over the partition in the cubicle to catch the other person off-guard.
Such men have gone to great lengths. The character is rich and varied. Some are plain and outright brutal like Adam Gilchrist, who like a zamburak perched on a camel shoots billboards and balustrades and floodlights and fuselages. Randomly pick and read any chapter out of his Vedantic sagas in the IPL and he won't fail to surprise you.
Adam Gilchrist has the best figures, stats-wise, for a wicket-keeper in International cricket. Compare his 472 wickets at a dismissal per innings ratio of 1.679 with our Golden Protege's 101 dismissals of 71 catches and 31 stumpings at a ratio of 0.990. But before the reader turns away in aghast looking at the contrast thinking he may not be in the same tier as the Dhonis, Sangakkaras and Bouchers, I offer this gem of his flash of insight for his inclusion in the team:
Our friends from the sister asylum once quoth:
Abdur Razzak to Prior, 1 wide, OUT, gone! What a bizarre dismissal, Prior has had a brain fade. It drifted down the leg side, Prior missed it and drags his back foot. Rahim takes off the bails and Prior is just safe, but then he stays out of his crease and Rahim shows brilliant awareness to pull the stump out of the ground to complete the stumping a second time. Brainless from Prior, superb from Rahim
MJ Prior st â€ Mushfiqur Rahim b Abdur Razzak 15 (35m 20b 2x4 0x6) SR: 75.00
Yes, Mushfiqur may not have used meat steaks for cushion but he did show his anticipatory capability with this kinematic flash of witticism. I say we still persist with him as our keeper.
At 5 feet 4, the 'chatterbox' from Bogra seems to have the X factor. His motivation like a squirrel on amphetamine can relentlessly energize his team and his solid partnerships involving the constant rotation of strike speak for themselves. On the flip side, I do concede his captaincy has been shoddy sometimes, failing to rotate the right combo of bowlers and strangle the opponent at the right time. Ah yes, the way he gave away byes in the third ODI against Pakistan last night, triggered our very own member "bujhee kom" to astutely point out that perhaps he needs a backup wicketkeeper.
But didn't he also take the ball between his knee to get rid of a batsman once? Mushfiqur recently has been at the receiving end with an Atlas-like burden of the captain's role. Give him some time I say. Meanwhile, the 100 and 101st wickets that he helped take in tandem with Riyad did set up a could-be hat-trick scenario. Plus, readers won't be nonplussed to know he has a perfect rapport with his vice-captain as well as aiding and abetting in valuable partnerships.
The role of a wicketkeeper-captain is so rich that he must also consistently brainstorm to make bowling revisions, swap bowlers at bowling ends, set up the "perfect" field, be literally quick on his feet and stand up to batsmen.
Sledging is a natural tenet of wicket keepers that comes with the territory and although often times, Mushfiqur's exuberance can pierce through stump microphones, he lacks Healy-McCullum genes to get under the opponent's skin through verbal gymnastics. Groomed to be obedient and polite, Bangladeshis are often held in high esteem for being model citizens, but banters can be naive, harmless and still unsettle a batsman. If garrulous Mushfiqur must be, then fashion it in a psychological trap of a havoc of cacophony.
However neat and tidy may his stunt-double Dhiman be, Mushfiqur still deserves to play the key role. The sacerdotal anecdotal feat of Mushfiqur reaching his milestone could be swept under the rug as this same man has been victim of yet another record - a world record at that - of conceding most byes before the 16th over. Yet, I still weigh in favor of his role in spite of isolated instances of dropped catches and missed stumpings, or failure to read the ball on numerous occasions.
Mushfiqur's journey has just begun. He needs to quadruple his efforts if he wants to carve his name in history as the greatest keeper that ever lived. He has shown rare glimpses of neurons firing and he is a leader. All the ingredients are there, all he needs is the surge to evolve into a ruthless character.