Sunday, April 21, 2024

SA20 League: Cook – Stubbs has qualities behind the stumps that other keepers don’t

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Photo Credit: SA20 League

There were key components that had to function really well for Sunrisers Eastern Cape to lift the Betway SA20 Season 2 trophy.

The seam bowling trio of Dan Worrall, Marco Jansen and Ottniel Baartman were, of course, phenomenal while the batting was never reliant on one or two individuals to get the team across the line.

Equally, in Liam Dawson and Simon Harmer, Sunrisers had found two very capable spinners to fill the massive void left by the irrepressible Roelof van der Merwe.

But sometimes a crucial position like wicketkeeper can be taken for granted especially with Adam Rossington’s swashbuckling batting at the top of the order often overshadowing his no-nonsense work behind the stumps.

That was until Rossington picked up an injury that meant the Sunrisers were forced to turn to a makeshift gloveman in Tristan Stubbs for the remainder of the campaign.

In true Sunrisers fashion, though, they saw it as an opportunity instead of a curse as it allowed them the option of balancing the team better.

Stubbs had limited experience as a senior ‘keeper, but had taken the gloves for the Proteas in a recent T20I series against Australia at Kingsmead.

His performances for the national team clearly showed that he still had plenty of work to do, but that was almost like waving a red flag at a charging bull.

Stubbs is one of the hardest working young cricketers on the domestic circuit and immersed himself into his new role and worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to get his keeping to the required standard.

“We had seen him keeping for the Proteas before and there was some inclination that he might keep at some point, so he had put in a bit of work before the competition,” said Sunrisers Eastern Cape fielding coach Ryan Cook.

“But once Adam got injured, he put all his energies into it and had a great series behind the stumps.

“He did a lot of drills with the spinners. Getting them to bowl at him in the middle and before games to pick up the variations.

“He also has a lot of qualities that some keepers don’t have. He is tall, has a far reach and moves really well to his right and left.

“And he uses his energy as a strength. He has so much energy that lifts the team. He celebrates wickets unbelievably. Sometimes you need that in the team.”

A tribute to the ethos of the Sunrisers’ team was the way Rossington helped Stubbs with his drills between matches to ensure the youngster steadily improved as the competition progressed.

Stubbs ultimately finished as the leading keeper with 18 dismissals in the competition, but it was his excellent leg-stumping of MI Cape Town’s Sam Curran off Dawson’s bowling at St George’s Park that really showed how far he had come.

“Adam actually helped him quite a lot.

“It speaks to the culture in the team. We have a special award in the team called ‘The Eagle Award’ and we even gave it to Adam on one occasion for the help he had done with Tristan,” Cook said.

“But he catches the ball quite naturally without gloves so there was a lot to work with. I was very happy with the way he stood up to the stumps.

“There was an unbelievable take in the game against MICT at St George’s when Dawson went for a leg side ball and it was actually one of the best stumpings I have seen.

“It was just a quick ball that was driven into the heels and went a bit further down the leg side and for him to get across and take the bails off that quickly was superb.”

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