Wicket keeping in cricket is a challenging role. A good wicket keeper has to be a mind reader with a lightning speed behind the stumps.
The role of wicket keeper has gone through a lot of changes. Nowadays keeping can’t be the only skill to be considered for team selection. A keeper has to be a moderate batter now. Wicket Keeper batsman is what every team looks for. This certainly gives a balance making the role more challenging for the keepers. Cricket world has seen numerous outstanding wicket keepers. We have created a list of five best of the lot.
Mark Boucher still tops the wicket keeper dismissal list with the highest number of dismissals despite his retirement in 2012. He had in store 998 dismissals in 467 matches when he was badly injured during a practice session and his eye got affected. He could have been the first wicket keeper in the history of cricket to touch the magical number of 1000 in terms of dismissals. In his initial days of cricket career, although he made headlines against Pakistan when he accounted for 9 dismissals as a very young lad, he had tough phase too. He couldn’t read the swinging ball in his starting days. He worked hard on it and went on to become one of the best keepers in the history of cricket. This keeper batter of South Africa always supported the team with quick knocks of 30-40; he scored 5,515 runs in 147 Test matches and 4,686 in 295 ODIs.
Adam Gilchrist is arguably the best wicket keeper batsman of all time. He gave the role of wicket keeper- batsman a whole new dimension with his attacking stroke play. What made his keeping role tougher than others that he had to show his skill against Shane Warne, the spin machine. With McGrath, Gilchrist shared a wonderful relationship and the duo achieved 90 dismissals together. He kept wickets for consecutive 96 test matches between 1999 and 2008. This left-handed batter was one of the strongest pillars of his team for more than a decade. He was part of three World Cup victories for Australia between 1996 and 2007 with a match-winning stroke of 149 runs in 2007 World Cup final. During his time span, Australia reached the peak of success and Gilchrist consistently contributed in that. He affected a total 905 numbers of dismissals in 396 international appearances. With the bat, Gilchrist scored 5570 in 96 test and 9619 in 287 ODIs.
It was a regular day at practice when the coach asked Mahendra Singh Dhoni to keep wickets. He wasn’t into cricket, his first love was football and he was a goal keeper in school. It is wicket keeping that helped him to make him to the national team. Dhoni kept on improving since the first day. His fabulous keeping is the reason why Parthiv Patel didn’t find a stable place, despite being a senior to Dhoni. The lightning fast stumping skill is what Dhoni excels at. Within a blink, he stumps in one swift motion. Dhoni became the first keeper to stump 100 times in ODIs in the history of the game. Since he has retired from test cricket he will probably not be able to cross Mark Boucher from South Africa and achieve 1000 dismissals. But MS Dhoni has affected 186 stumping which is the highest till date. In total Dhoni has achieved 806 dismissals in 515 matches. Former India captain Dhoni has been a successful batsman as well. He scored 4,876 runs in 90 test matches and 10,173 runs in 332 ODIs till date.
One of the finest wicket keepers of all time Rodney Marsh was interested in keeping since his first competitive match in the age of 8. But he was a better batsman than keeper and it was evident from the initial phase of his career. He was selected to the team mainly because of his batting skill. In fact, his poor keeping skill earned him the title of ‘Iron Gloves’. Rod couldn’t give up on his love of keeping and tried hard. With time he kept on improving and went on to become one of the greatest ever. Thanks to his partnership with Dennis Lillee that it gave birth to the famous phrase ‘caught Marsh bowled Lillee’. The duo contributed to 95 dismissals together. Rodney March was the first Australian wicket keeper to score a test century during 1972-73 test series against Pakistan. As a batsman, he gave stability to the lower order. Once he scored 26 runs in final over against New Zealand. In 92 ODIs Marsh scored 1,225 with a strike rate of 82.27 and in 96 test matches, he scored 3,633 runs. From 188 international matches, he contributed to total 479 dismissals.
Formal captain of New Zealand cricket team, Brendon McCullum discontinued wicket keeping in the last two years of his career due to his back problem. But the right handed batsman was an exceptional wicket keeper and certainly the best wearing the black cap. His fleetness behind the stumps was an asset for the team. He was the first wicket keeper batsman from New Zealand with more than 200 dismissals in one day cricket. With 453 dismissals in 432 international matches, he is certainly one of the most talented keeper and fielder ever. He lightened up the field in the first ever IPL match and scored a blistering 158, the highest T20 score at that point of time, for Kolkata Knight Riders. He had a perfect swansong when he hit a blistering 54 ball hundred, the fastest ever in test cricket with respect to balls played, against the neighboring Aussies in his final test match in 2016.