Deep Dasgupta was an aggressive wicket-keeper batsman. He played for India in 8 Test matches and 5 ODIs between 2001 and 2006. He made his presence felt very early in his cricketing career by scoring a century in his Ranji Trophy debut match against Baroda. He has been one of the most successful captains of the Bengal Ranji team, leading them to two finals in consecutive seasons. A stylish batsman, an elegant wicket-keeper and now a classy commentator – Deep Dasgupta is an all-rounder. We caught up with him on his birthday for an exclusive chat.
SIS: How did you take up Wicket-Keeping?
DD: I had realised very early in my career that I wouldn’t be a bowler. After batting in the nets, one has to do something, or you will get bored just standing there. I chose wicket-keeping so I can be part of the action. Once I started keeping, it turned out to be more fun.
SIS: Wicket-keepers are unofficial fielding captains. Do wicket-keepers need to be born leaders?
DD: An essential part of wicket-keeping is the leadership role. You need not be a born leader rather embrace the role. The job itself teaches you to become a leader. Wicket-keepers are an intrinsic part of the team and have to contribute on the field. Sourav Ganguly would come up to me and ask me about field placing for a particular batsman- you have to work as the eyes of your captain.
SIS: Wicket-keepers have to call the DRS right, how do you think they can improve on their DRS calls?
DD: DRS is an additional aspect of the game. Wicket-keepers should train for DRS. A wicket-keeper’s instinct is to stop the single instead follow the ball carefully, judge where it hit the batsman, and take a split second to make your decision, at the expense of giving away a run. Off-late I haven’t seen too many wicket-keepers keep in the nets. Keeping in the nets gives you the practice of following the ball during the match. The practice wickets are almost the same as the ones used for the match. You will keep to the same bowlers during the match, hence keeping in the nets will increase your chances of making the right calls during the match.
SIS: Wicket-keeping is a high pressure and intense concentration job. Any advice to young wicket-keepers on how to handle it?
DD: Wicket-keepers need to handle two situations – a crisis like a dropped catch, missed stumping, the pitch is turning a lot or they have to stop themselves from getting carried away in situations like when they have taken a one-handed blinder on the leg side. Just be aware of what’s happening with you and around you all the time. Focus on external things and not on internal emotions. One has to learn to step up and step down in concentration. You can only concentrate fiercely for a certain amount of time in a day, hence save that fierce concentration for the exact moment. Be relaxed, keep breathing, be aware, slowly raise your concentration level as the bowler starts his run-up, and half a second before they release the ball, concentrate fiercely.