Wicket Keeping Gloves Buyers' Guide

>CHOOSING THE RIGHT WICKET KEEPER'S GLOVE

The quality of your wicket keeping gloves can not only impact on whether you take that match-winning catch, it can also be a deciding factor in whether that ill-judged attempt results in a broken finger or just a bit of light bruising. There are some stylish wicket keeping gloves on the market but any wicketkeeper will identify comfort, grip and protection as the key features for success.

WICKET KEEPING GLOVES: MATERIALS

Strength, flexibility and durability are why various leathers are used throughout the specification of a wicket keeping glove. Standard leather delivers comfort and durability, while calf leather provides exceptional comfort and feel but is not as long-lasting. Sheep leather is a great source of comfort and flexibility but this is also not renowned for its durability. Kangaroo leather is one of the strongest leathers and still boasts a very soft feel, culminating in a great balance of robustness, comfort, movability and durability. Chamois leather is known for its moisture porous qualities and non-abrasive composition. Primary rubber, manufactured from latex (to which many people have an allergic response), is favoured to its stretchy, water-resistant profile, while Neoprene is a synthetic rubber which offers similar qualities. Cotton contributes strength and long-lastingness.

WICKET KEEPING GLOVES: FEATURES

Softness and comfort are of paramount importance to the palm lining to help avoid rubbing and soreness. Usually low-end cricket wicket keeping gloves utilise cotton but a higher class set of gloves will boast leathers that offer increased comfort levels. Impact protection-wise, the palm padding is the most vital element of the wicket keeping glove. It also aids performance as the shock absorption qualities help to slow down the ball when it impacts the glove. Cotton wadding is a popular choice for this area but top-of-the-range gloves will feature silicone gel padding inserts.

The ends of the fingers are a commonly hit area for the wicket keeper so all wicket keeping gloves feature reinforced fingertip caps. These caps are open at one end to fit around the end of your fingers and are made from a rubbery material. Although you’ll be protected from minor strikes, severe direct impacts may still cause injury, which is why additional foam padding is sometimes inserted and many wicket keepers tape up their finger joints prior to play. High quality wicket keeping gloves usually utilise high density foams to provide professionals with ample protection for high bowling speeds and powerful throws from the outfield. Finger tabs made of hardwearing leather are sometimes inserted on the back of the top of the finger sections – the area which often makes contact with the ground in a wicketkeeper’s stance – to protect the glove from wear and tear.

To help maximise the wicketkeeper’s protection from poor throws or dodgy bounces, the cuff – the padded area protecting the wrists – is usually made with cotton wadding and high density foams. An English-style wicket keeping glove is supposed to feature a longer (10-12cm) cuff compared to an Australia-style glove, which includes a shorter, more rounded cuff (7-10cm) and is easier to remove with speed.

The webbing is the name given to the rounded material used to join the index finger and thumb, which serves as a catching aid. Wicket keeping glove manufacturers have to adhere to strict regulations on the dimensions and construction of the webbing under law 40.2. Gloves can include ventilated sections which increase airflow and aid comfort during a long innings in hot conditions. These are usually covered in polyester mesh and applied to areas between the fingers or on the back of the hand. A rubbery outer grip is applied to the inside palm, fingers and inside webbing area of the wicketkeeper’s glove, designed to improve your chances of catching a ball. Usually made from natural rubber, neoprene or other synthetic materials, the grip has traditionally consisted of 1mm pimples but many contemporary, higher-end gloves are utilising a ring-like structure, commonly termed octopus grip, which not only slows the ball down and reduces spin, but additionally creates small pockets of vacuum to entice the ball into the glove.

BUYING DECISIONS

The fit of a wicket keeping glove can vary from extremely loose to tight. Do you want the ultra-protection of the English-style glove or the improved flexibility of the Aussie-style glove? As you progress from value wicket keeping gloves to pro-standard gloves, you are likely to be purchasing softer, more comfortable and flexible materials, and see the deployment of ultra-protective materials, such as HD foams and gels, as well as offering superior ventilation. Most wicketkeepers wear internal gloves, known as ‘inners’, to provide additional comfort and shock absorption. These are usually made from cotton or chamois leather, while some offer additional padded sections to maximise protection and absorb a high amount of moisture.