Wicket-keeping remains Trisha Chetty’s first love in the changing world of women’s cricket.
South Africa’s guardian of the gloves at the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup is nothing if not a realist.
Chetty, who will step out against England in tomorrow’s semi-final at Bristol knows cricket’s culture has changed seemingly irreversibly as far as being behind the timbers is concerned.
As with the revolution in the men’s game, the world’s best female wicket-keepers must now be batters first. Once the art of balletic footwork and great hands was cherished for its own sake with batting an added extra – but no more. A seismic shift has taken the role through 180 degrees where now use of the willow is king. Wicket-keeping has become the useful add-on.
Chetty – A survivor of Wicket-keeping’s Changing Face
Few in the women’s game appreciate that better than Chetty, 29, the mother of the fledgling Proteas side. She made her Test debut against the Netherlands in 2007 as a number eight, but was immediately promoted to opener.
Greater responsibility for runs came with the move up the order, a burden Chetty remains only too conscious of. She has gone along with this mutation in the name of progress. Yet, while batting means necessary graft her romance with what drew her to cricket originally remains.
“My batting is my first priority, but my first love is wicket-keeping,” she said.
“When I first started it was more about my wicket-keeping than my batting, but now you can’t just keep. You have to offer something with the bat as well.
“So, my batting comes first and my wicket-keeping is something I enjoy doing. It comes naturally, but I work hard on my batting.”
Chetty caught the wicket-keeping bug early and unsurprisingly the first influences were male. In her very formative years Dave Richardson was the idol, Mark Boucher taking over in her teens.
As the women’s game has progressed, so Chetty’s role models have too. Those to watch now include opposite number at Bristol England’s Sarah Taylor and Aussie ace Alyssa Healey.
“I loved watching Dave Richardson back in the day,” she said.
“I saw him with the gloves and I wanted to be like him. Then Mark Boucher took over and I wanted to be like him. It went on from there.
“So, I idolised the men when I was young, but right now it’s women.”
“I look at the the Australian girl Healey and Sarah Taylor. It is just not like normal wicket-keeping with them. They bring things like standing in front of the stumps and taking the ball, so I am learning from them right now.”
Wicket-keeping still a Valuable Art
Chetty it seems is coming through the some would say evolution, some demise of wicket-keeping better than most.
While some greats of yesteryear in the men’s game, JT Murray among them, see it as an art no longer appreciated for its own sake Durban-born Chetty begs to differ.
She maintains wicket-keepers remain as they always were the hub of the fielding side and therefore a bowler’s wisest counsel.
“Even though I want my batting to dominate I still believe wicket-keeping is important,” she added.
“Wicket-keeping is crucial in the sense of being a leader on the pitch. We have got the best view in terms of angles and knowing our bowlers.
“I have been with the same set of bowlers for around 10 years now, so pretty much know what they do.”