Rishabh Pant should create his own identity, says Brad Haddin

Pant should be true to himself and not try to be someone else, says the former Australia wicketkeeper.

Rishabh Pant’s wicketkeeping skills have been under scrutiny ever since he broke into the Indian team.   -  PTI

Ever since Rishabh Pant broke into the Indian team, his wicketkeeping skills have drawn flak from various former cricketers. While some felt he needed some more time to prove his mettle at the highest level, many were of the opinion that it was important to give the 22-year-old enough opportunities.

In the two Tests he played against New Zealand last month, Pant took eight catches and struggled with the bat, scoring 60 runs in four innings.

Brad Haddin, the former Australia stumper, believes it is important for Pant to “create his own identity” and not copy someone. “Rishabh Pant should be him. That’s how he’s going to create his identity. He’s got to be himself,” Haddin told Sportstar in an interaction.

The Aussie, who was also the fielding coach of the side until last year, was in Mumbai last week for the UnAcademy Road Safety World Series, which was eventually called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Expectation comes with anyone at this level and that’s one of the things you’ve got to deal with. But the most important thing is to create your own identity of what you want to be seen as,” Haddin said, making it clear that Pant should try and be himself.

‘Bring your own style’

“You bring your own style to the team. When I first got my opportunity to play Test cricket, I couldn’t try to be an Adam Gilchrist or Ian Healy. I had to bring my own unique style to the game. One of the challenges here is not trying to be someone you’re not and just be true to yourself,” Haddin said.

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Ever since M. S. Dhoni retired from Test cricket, Wriddhiman Saha took care of things for India’s Test team. The Indian team still struggles to settle for a right candidate in the shorter formats, however, especially with no clarity on Dhoni’s future. “India have been blessed for the last 10 years to have a superstar of the game in M. S. Dhoni. So, it’s important whoever takes over from that role creates their own identity. Dhoni has left a great legacy to the game. He’s left a great legacy for Indian cricket, but the next one involved, it’s up to them to put their own style to the game and their identity what they want to create as an Indian keeper,” the seasoned Haddin, who featured in 66 Tests, 126 ODIs and 34 T20Is for Australia, said.

Having seen the Australian team closely, Haddin felt that under the leadership of Tim Paine, Australia had done a “wonderful job” in the longer format of the game. He felt there shouldn’t be any change in captaincy for now.

‘Great summer’

“[Paine] will decide when he’s had enough. I think he’s earned the right to decide that. The way he’s been playing over the last couple of years [has been amazing]. We had a great summer where they didn’t lose any games. And the one thing he’s done is he’s given a real consistent message around his leadership. So he’s got the right to go when he wants,” Haddin said.

Australian cricket went through a bumpy ride in 2018 after Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned for their involvement in ball tampering. However, all three returned to action last year, with Smith and Warner finding their old rhythm. “You just have to look at their performance. Since they have come back last summer, David Warner scored three hundreds, Steve Smith had a wonderful Ashes series. So, they are world-class performers and they’re just a part of a really well-drilled Australian team,” Haddin said.

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Known for its aggressive style of play, Australia has slowly developed the side and now, with Smith and Warner back, it looks like a well-knit unit. “That’s how most teams are around world cricket. You want to create that environment where you’re always trying to stay in the game and compete.”

This year, Australia will host the T20 World Cup and Haddin accepts that the home advantage will work in favour of the Aussies. “It’s going to be interesting. I think the beauty of the T20 competition is that once you shorten the event, there’s five or six teams that can win it. We’ve got a great opportunity playing on a home soil, so we understand our conditions well,” Haddin said.

“But we need to use the bounce in our favour. There are a lot bigger grounds in Australia, so [we know the conditions well]. But the beauty of T20 tournament is that anyone can win it.”

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