Wriddhiman Saha successfully fitted into the massive vacancy left by Mahendra Singh Dhoni as India’s wicketkeeper-batsman in Tests. And in the 31 test matches that he has played for the country, Wriddhiman has proved why he is considered to be the best wicketkeeper in world cricket now. The cricketer from West Bengal, after the conclusion of India-Sri Lanka test series, gave time to CricketSoccer.com. In an exclusive chat, he reveals the mantra behind his success story behind the stumps and how he feels proud being a member of the Virat Kohli led Indian team which has won nine consecutive test series.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): How is the feeling of winning nine Test series in a row?
Wriddhiman Saha (WS): It’s a very special feeling indeed. We have touched the world record held jointly by England and Australia previously. And the record proves it all. It shows the consistency that we have displayed on the field over the last couple of years. We have dominated the world in Test format. I am proud to be a part of this team. The most significant thing is that every player has contributed to this success. It’s completely a team effort.
CS: As South Africa series knocking at the door, how difficult is this tour going to be?
WS: To be very honest, I haven’t started to think about the South Africa tour yet. But yes, it’s going to be a tough tour. It’s not because of the fact that we are going to play on South African condition. The thing is, whenever we get to play series against teams like Australia, England and South Africa, it’s always bound to be challenging, whether it’s on home soil or abroad. The key factor would be how quickly we adapt to the situation. We don’t play away series frequently. We are confident enough to put up a good show in South Africa also.
CS: You have kept wickets in the sub-continental condition, where there are different types of bounce on the turf. Now you have to keep the pacers on the South African soil. Which one, according to you, is a more difficult test for a wicketkeeper?
WS: Both are difficult. I have kept spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on Indian wickets. It’s one of the most challenging tasks for a wicketkeeper. In South Africa, there will be a consistency in terms of bounce and carry. But if the ball swings, it will be difficult there also. In the last test match against Sri Lanka at Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi, the condition was aiding fast bowling and both Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were getting swing. Even I fumbled on a couple of occasions. Therefore, concentration throughout the day is very important.
CS: Which do you feel to be the strength of your wicketkeeping? Is it skill or reflex?
WS: I think it’s the hand-eye coordination. Yes, hand-eye coordination is not only important from a batsman’s point of view, it’s important for a wicketkeeper also, which I realized over the years. If my hand and body move to collect a ball, but my eyes miss its sight, I would not be able to catch it. So, therefore, I have had to nourish my hand-eye coordination by practising hard. There is no shortcut to hard work to get success.
CS: Your catch of Sadeera Samarwickrama at the Delhi test has hit the headlines. Will you rate it the best catch of your career?
WS: I would rate it one of the best rather. The best would be Australia’s Steve O’Keefe’s catch that I took at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune in last February. The bowler was Umesh Yadav who has an extra amount of pace and the ball was flying like a bullet. I have to dive and cover a long way to get a reach at the ball. The reaction time I got was also of a microsecond. The Sadeera catch of Ishant Sharma’s delivery is undoubtedly a good catch as I have to collect the ball just above the ground level. Still, I would rate the O’Keefe’s catch higher.
CS: As a wicketkeeper, are you satisfied with your performance till now?
WS: Not fully. I feel there is no end to learning and I am still learning how to improve. I am not perfect. Nobody can claim that he is perfect. I have some weakness as well. I also do mistakes behind the stumps. I keep hardworking. That is the only path in which I can minimise my flaws.
CS: How would you describe Virat Kohli’s evolution as a captain?
WS: Virat is doing quite good as a captain. It is often mistaken that the captain takes all the important decisions. Not just me, Virat asks everyone for their inputs. We all give solutions and ultimately whatever seems best for the team is applied. This is a standout trait of Virat’s captaincy. His aggression and hunger to win is just amazing. Also, how he backs us during press conferences even when we fail to perform is very motivating.