Quinton de Kock is a man of many talents. A multi-faceted batsman who can play the role of the anchor and aggressor at the top of the order, a consistent and big run-getter for Mumbai Indians in the last few seasons of the IPL, a leader who has captained the national side and a talented man behind the stumps. One of his quirks while wicket-keeping for South Africa and for Mumbai Indian during the IPL, which again caught the eye during the opening two matches of the defending champions in the ongoing season was his habit of not wearing the regular-sized pads while standing behind the stumps.
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De Kock was wicket-keeping without wearing the pads we are accustomed to seeing being worn by all men behind the stumps since time immemorial! So, was the South African actually keeping without any sort of protection on his legs? Is this allowed? Who else amongst the prominent wicket-keepers uses the same practise?
First things first. De Kock does wear some sort of pads while wicket-keeping - just not the conventional ones. He wear the ‘baby’ pads or some smaller size pads inside his pants. But not the ones other wicket-keepers wear externally.
Why does he do so?
Apparently, it helps in better movement and agility behind the stumps. Instead of wearing the bulky exterior pads which hamper the speed of a wicket-keeper, this way he is quick in effecting a run-out or saving a bye/leg-bye. It also helps him to stretch comfortably and take a bigger jump when attempting a catch.
Who else does this?
This has become a fashion of late amongst wicket-keepers all over the world but the most prominent international keeper who also does not wear the conventional exterior pads and instead wears some sort of shin pads is the England Women’s Superstar, Sarah Taylor.
MS Dhoni took off his pads for a few deliveries in an R Ashwin over and handed them over to Ajinkya Rahane in India’s World Cup encounter against the West Indies in Perth. He wanted some protection for Rahane at silly point.
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Is this allowed by MCC?
The rules are not very clear around ‘internal’ guards and equipment allowed to the wicket-keepers. The MCC Law states “The wicket-keeper is the only fielder permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards. If he does so these are to be regarded as part of his person for the purposes of Law 41.2 (Fielding the ball). If by his actions and positioning it is apparent to the umpires that he will not be able to discharge his duties as a wicket-keeper, he shall forfeit this right and also the right to be recognised as a wicket-keeper for the purposes of Laws 32.3 (A fair catch), 39 (Stumped), 41.1 (Protective equipment ), 41.5 (Limitation of on-side fielders) and 41.6 (Fielders not to encroach on pitch)."
The law allows (although it is not mandatory) for a wicket-keeper to wear external leg guards. No fielder other than the wicket-keeper shall be permitted to wear gloves or external leg guards.
But there is nothing concrete about not wearing ‘internal’ pads or guards.
Any particular wicket-keeping stat that stands out for De Kock in the IPL?
Yes. Interestingly, De Kock has the highest dismissals per match ratio (of 1) amongst all wicket-keepers with a minimum of 20 dismissals in the IPL. These include 47 catches and 13 stumpings.
There has to be a correlation between De Kock’s internal pads, his movement and agility and the subsequent dismissals.
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