September 2, 2012

Test wicketkeepers: Everything you wanted to know about

A comprehensive statistical analysis of the Test careers of top wicketkeepers
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Adam Gilchrist holds the record for the most runs and average dismissals per Test for a wicketkeeper
Adam Gilchrist holds the record for the most runs and average dismissals per Test for a wicketkeeper © Getty Images

Test wicketkeepers: inarguably the players with the toughest task in cricket. They have to be on their toes for hours on end, go down and up a million times a day, cannot afford to relax even for a minute, always have an eye on what is happening to the ball and nowadays are expected to bat for hours and/or score runs quickly. And some of these keepers are expected to captain their teams and/or open the batting. Why would anyone take up this tough task? This article is a homage to those tough men.

This is one long article and has taken nearly two weeks. Please take time to peruse all tables and come back with your comments. The effort I have put in would be nullified if readers do not give this the time it deserves. And please, no comments that all this information is available in StatsGuru. All the information is not available, would require many queries to get the information, the information would not be in the form of readable tables, there is no ratings work done and so on.

In order to get a reasonable number into the analysis set, I lowered my initial qualification criterion of 100 dismissals to 75. 48 keepers qualify and this seems to be a fair number. On an average this represents a lower limit of 20-30 Tests, which is a Test career between 3 and 5 years.

1. Total Dismissals (All tables current upto Test 2054 (Ind-Nzl First Test))

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests Dismissals
 
Boucher M.V Saf 1997 2012 147 555
Gilchrist Aus 1999 2008 96 416
Healy I.A Aus 1988 1999 119 395
Marsh R.W Aus 1970 1984 96 355
Dujon P.J.L Win 1981 1991 79 270
Knott A.P.E Eng 1967 1981 95 269
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 81 241
Wasim Bari Pak 1967 1984 80 228
Dhoni M.S Ind 2005 2012 67 220
Evans T.G Eng 1946 1959 91 219
Jacobs R.D Win 1998 2004 65 218
Kamran Akmal Pak 2002 2010 53 206
Parore A.C Nzl 1990 2002 67 200


This is the base table and is ordered on the number of Dismissals. This is not just a longevity based achievement. To play over 100 matches, as a top-flight keeper, is something incredible and has to be recognized. An important fact to be noted is that the number of Tests shown are the Tests in which the players played as wicketkeepers. For two players, Sangakkara and Alec Stewart, this distinction is significant since they have played a number of Tests as batsmen. Andy Flower and Parore have also played a few Tests as batsmen. This table lists the keepers who effected over 200 dismissals.

The table is topped by the peerless South African keeper, Boucher, and then come three top keepers from Australia. Dujon follows next and then Knott and Stewart. The top-10 is rounded off by Bari and Dhoni.

Readers are likely to come in with comments that the misses by keepers are not included. This is true because the data is not available. Cricinfo might have the data for the past few years or so but not for over 75% of the Tests. And I will not make any guess-work. My analysis is based 100% on the available verifiable data.

2. Dismissals per Test

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests C-St Dismissals/Test
 
Gilchrist Aus 1999 2008 96 416 4.33
Browne C.O Win 1995 2005 20 81 4.05
Jones G.O Eng 2004 2006 34 133 3.91
Kamran Akmal Pak 2002 2010 53 206 3.89
Haddin B.J Aus 2008 2012 43 164 3.81
Boucher M.V Saf 1997 2012 147 555 3.78
Langley Aus 1951 1956 26 98 3.77
Richardson Saf 1992 1998 41 152 3.71
Marsh R.W Aus 1970 1984 96 355 3.70
...
Ames L.E.G Eng 1929 1939 44 95 2.16
Khaled Mashud Bng 2000 2007 44 87 1.98
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 46 82 1.78


This is a performance measure. Dismissals per Test is a very important parameter to measure the keepers' contribution to the team. Only two keepers have effected more than 4 dismissals per Test, which works out an average of 30% of the team dismissals. Readers might argue that the bowlers create the opportunities for dismissals. However that is only partly true. The keepers have to gauge the bounce and stand in the correct position and posture. It is my belief that only one-in-three catches travel straight to the keepers. The other two have to be caught well. Anyhow 4+ dismissals per Test goes a long way in influencing the result in the team's favour. 3.06 is the overall average.

In the top-9 keepers, Langley, with a figure of 3.77 belongs to the 1950s and Marsh, with 3.70, belongs to the 1970s. The others all are current or recently retired. Why I wonder. More opportunities? Better techniques?

At the other end, we have Ames from way back, Khaled Mashud and Engineer. The last two have fewer than 2 dismissals per Test. Why should Engineer's numbers be so low, almost matching the numbers of top slip fielders. Possibly many of the spinners' wickets would have been effected through catches to close fielders, rather than keeper.

3. Dismissals as % of similar team dismissals

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests C-St Team CSt Dismissals %
 
Alexander Win 1957 1961 25 90 201 44.8
Kamran Akmal Pak 2002 2010 53 206 466 44.2
Langley Aus 1951 1956 26 98 239 41.0
Saleem Yousuf Pak 1982 1990 31 104 259 40.2
Browne C.O Win 1995 2005 20 81 206 39.3
Rashid Latif Pak 1992 2003 37 130 335 38.8
Richardson Saf 1992 1998 41 152 397 38.3
Gilchrist Aus 1999 2008 96 416 1115 37.3
Imtiaz Ahmed Pak 1952 1962 38 90 242 37.2
...
Ames L.E.G Eng 1929 1939 44 95 351 27.1
Kaluwitharana Slk 1992 2004 48 119 450 26.4
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 46 82 388 21.1


This is a nice-to-view table and is not used in any Ratings work. Alexander of West Indies had a hand in 44% of his team's similar dismissals. And look at Kamran Akmal: he has had a hand in over 44% of his team dismissals. That is something. Saleem Yousuf has a similar 40-plus % figure. Gilchrist makes it to the top-10, with an impressive figure of 37.2%. One-third seems to be the overall average.

At the other end, Engineer clocks in with a very low 21.1%, as expected.

4. Byes/Test

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests Byes Byes/Test
 
Downton P.R Eng 1981 1988 30 84 2.8
Richardson Saf 1992 1998 41 143 3.5
Khaled Mashud Bng 2000 2007 44 152 3.5
Smith I.D.S Nzl 1980 1992 63 257 4.1
Parore A.C Nzl 1990 2002 67 291 4.3
Knott A.P.E Eng 1967 1981 95 422 4.4
Flower A Zim 1992 2002 55 250 4.5
Jacobs R.D Win 1998 2004 65 297 4.6
Taylor R.W Eng 1971 1984 57 285 5.0
...
Murray D.L Win 1963 1980 62 653 10.5
Saleem Yousuf Pak 1982 1990 31 332 10.7
Ames L.E.G Eng 1929 1939 44 470 10.7


The Byes per Test is a measure of the keeping quality. Somewhat indirectly, would it also have a correlation with the chances missed? Downton is somewhere in the stratosphere with an average of only 2.8 byes per Test. Richardson, the current CEO of ICC, also has a very low figure of 3.5, matched by Khaled Mashud. A few other not-so-well-known keepers have low byes/Test figures of around 5.0. 7.0 byes/match seems to be an above average performance level. 6.9 byes/match is the overall average.

The last three have all conceded more than 10 byes per Test. Ames probably has a high figure because of the way England bowled during the 1930s.

5. Stumping %

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests C-St Stumpings St %
 
Oldfield Aus 1920 1937 53 130 52 40.0
Ames L.E.G Eng 1929 1939 44 95 23 24.2
Lilley Eng 1896 1909 35 92 22 23.9
Jayawardene Slk 2000 2012 46 117 27 23.1
Kaluwitharana Slk 1992 2004 48 119 26 21.8
Evans T.G Eng 1946 1959 91 219 46 21.0
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 46 82 16 19.5
Kirmani Ind 1976 1986 88 198 38 19.2
Imtiaz Ahmed Pak 1952 1962 38 90 16 17.8
...
Ramdin D Win 2005 2012 46 138 3 2.2
Dujon P.J.L Win 1981 1991 79 270 5 1.9
Richardson Saf 1992 1998 41 152 2 1.3


Number of stumpings and the % of total keeper-dismissals is another nice-to-have information. It really has no bearing on evaluation of a keeper performance: rather, reflects the way the bowling attacks were formed. Oldfield, keeping to Grimmett and O'Reilly, has got 40% of his dismissals as stumpings. No surprises there. Same with Ames. Lilley was a pre-WW1 keeper. Note Prasanna Jayawardene's high share of 23%, no doubt due to Muralitharan's presence and recently Herath. Two Indian keepers of old and Imtiaz come in afterwards.

At the other end are couple of West Indian keepers and the CEO of ICC. They probably did not keep to any quality spinner. Less than 2% means stumpings for these keepers were as rare as Haley's (or more aptly, here, Healy's) comet.

6. Total Runs

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests BPos Runs scored
 
Gilchrist Aus 1999 2008 96 6.7 5570
Boucher M.V Saf 1997 2012 147 7.2 5515
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 81 3.6 4542
Flower A Zim 1992 2002 55 5.0 4404
Knott A.P.E Eng 1967 1981 95 6.8 4389
Healy I.A Aus 1988 1999 119 7.1 4356
Marsh R.W Aus 1970 1984 96 6.9 3633
Dhoni M.S Ind 2005 2012 67 6.9 3582
Sangakkara Slk 2000 2012 49 3.0 3281
Dujon P.J.L Win 1981 1991 79 6.6 3146
Prior M.J Eng 2007 2012 58 6.9 3068
McCullum Nzl 2004 2012 50 5.5 2782


Now we come to the batting measures. First the simple measure of Runs scored. Readers should remember that these are only the runs scored when the player played as a keeper. So Sangakkara, Stewart et al will have lower figures. Gilchrist leads with a tally of 5570 runs, but in only 96 Tests. Boucher has a slightly lower figure, but in 51 more Tests. Stewart and Flower, the batsmen-keepers, are next. Knott follows afterwards. Dhoni is likely to accumulate quite a few runs and may very well usurp Gilchrist from the top spot before his career is over. Sangakkara is unlikely to add any runs since he is unlikely to resume wicket-keeping duties in tests. Prior and McCullum could add a few.

The average Batting position is also shown. As expected most keepers have this figure well in excess of 6, other than Stewart, Flower and Sangakkara. This indicates that they batted in positions 7 and higher. One reason why I have not done the compilation of the runs added by the keepers with the lower order. Since they seem to have batted at no.7 and afterwards, most of the runs scored would have been with the late-order batsmen.

7. Runs/Test

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests Runs Runs/Test
 
Flower A Zim 1992 2002 55 4404 80.1
Sangakkara Slk 2000 2012 49 3281 67.0
Gilchrist Aus 1999 2008 96 5570 58.0
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 46 2611 56.8
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 81 4542 56.1
McCullum Nzl 2004 2012 50 2782 55.6
Ames L.E.G Eng 1929 1939 44 2387 54.2
Imtiaz Ahmed Pak 1952 1962 38 2010 52.9
Prior M.J Eng 2007 2012 58 3068 52.9
...
Grout A.T.W Aus 1957 1966 51 890 17.5
Wasim Bari Pak 1967 1984 80 1366 17.1
Langley Aus 1951 1956 26 374 14.4


This is a great performance measure. I have gone on the less used Runs per Test measure than the Batting average since the latter figure is likely to be inflated seriously with many not outs since the keepers, traditionally, are late order batsmen. How many runs per Test, in addition to the dismissals, is a far more important measure of a wicketkeeper's quality than whether he remained not out. Andy Flower is the runaway leader in this regard, with 80 runs per Test, a figure in excess of many a specialist batsman. Sangakkara follows with 67. Then comes the explosive Gilchrist with 58 runs per Test, often in crunch late-order situations. Engineer, with an otherwise poor set of keeping numbers has a decent 56 runs per Test. The average is 38.7, indicating that any 40 plus figure should be considered above-average.

8. Opening Runs

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Opening Runs
 
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 1577
Imtiaz Ahmed Pak 1952 1962 979
Mongia N.R Ind 1994 2001 655
Waite J.H.B Saf 1951 1965 606
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 405
Kamran Akmal Pak 2002 2010 322


These are the runs scored by keepers in the opening positions. Engineer is the only keeper with a tally in excess of 1500 runs. No one else has even scored 1000. Imtiaz is the second and Mongia who opened for India in a few Tests, follows next. We have to recognize this facet of Engineer's career, especially as his wicket-keeping returns are below-average.

9. Keepers as Captain

Wicket Keeper Cty From To Tests played Tests captained
 
Dhoni M.S Ind 2005 2012 68 38
Alexander Win 1957 1961 25 18
Flower A Zim 1992 2002 55 16
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 81 12
Moin Khan Pak 1990 2004 65 12
KhaledMashud Bng 2000 2007 44 12


Dhoni is the leader in this measure, having captained India in well over half the Tests he has played. Alexander was the captain in most of the Tests. Then come Flower and Stewart.

10. Wicketkeeper Ratings

WicketKeeper Cty From To Ratings
     C-St C-St/Test ToW Bye Bat Capt OpBt Total
 
Gilchrist us 1999 2008 10.4 43.3 2.9 8.7 19.3 0.9 0.0 85.5
Boucher M.V Saf 1997 2012 13.9 37.8 2.4 8.4 12.5 0.6 0.0 75.6
Flower A Zim 1992 2002 3.7 26.9 1.9 10.5 26.7 2.4 0.0 72.0
Kamran Akmal Pak 2002 2010 5.2 38.9 2.6 7.4 16.6 0.0 0.6 71.4
Dhoni M.S Ind 2005 2012 5.5 32.5 2.2 7.1 17.5 5.7 0.0 70.6
Marsh R.W us 1970 1984 8.9 37.0 2.4 8.4 12.6 0.0 0.1 69.4
McCullum Nzl 2004 2012 4.3 34.4 2.1 9.6 18.5 0.0 0.0 69.0
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 6.0 29.8 2.0 9.3 18.7 1.8 0.8 68.3
Haddin B.J us 2008 2012 4.1 38.1 2.5 5.2 17.5 0.0 0.0 67.4
Healy I.A us 1988 1999 9.9 33.2 2.2 8.8 12.2 0.0 0.0 66.3
...
Evans T.G Eng 1946 1959 5.5 24.1 1.6 7.3 8.9 0.0 0.0 47.3
KhaledMashud Bng 2000 2007 2.2 19.8 1.3 11.5 10.7 1.8 0.0 47.2
Mongia N.R Ind 1994 2001 2.7 24.3 1.7 5.3 10.9 0.0 1.3 46.2
Oldfield us 1920 1937 3.2 24.5 1.5 6.7 9.0 0.0 0.1 45.0
Lilley Eng 1896 1909 2.3 26.3 1.5 4.5 8.6 0.0 0.0 43.2


Finally I have decided to do a Test Wicketkeeper Ratings work. This is fraught with pitfalls and I must be ready for the bouquets and brickbats to come in alternately. But I realize that if I do not venture out, I (and the readers) would not gain anything and here we go. I am sure readers would have their comments. My only request is for readers to note that this is a first attempt and fine tuning is always possible. The measures which would be used in Test WK_Ratings are explained below. These are detailed in the order of importance.

1. Number of Dismissals per Test: This is a pure performance measure and carries the maximum weight. 10 points are given per dismissal per Test. The overall weight is around 50%.
2. Number of Runs per Test: The second most important measure. The batting contributions are second only to the basic dismissals per Test measure. The value to the team, especially as the runs are normally scored in the late order, is undeniable. The points are determined by multiplying the Runs per test measure by 0.3333. The overall weight is around 22%.
3. Number of Byes per Test: This is an important measure since this indicates wicket-keeping quality. The overall weight is around 13%.
4. Number of Dismissals: This is the only longevity-based measure. It is very essential to reward the keepers who have maintained their fitness and skill levels for many years and Tests. The allocation is one Rating point per 40 dismissal so that the maximum is 15 points. The overall weight is around 8% but there are keepers who go above 15%.
5. Number of Top order dismissals per Test: Again a specialized performance measure. There is a clear separation amongst wicketkeepers and this has been included since it means that much more to the team. The overall weight is around 3.5%.
6. Number of Tests captained: The additional responsibility of captaining has to be incorporated in the Ratings. However it must be noted that keepers have captained their teams in around 5% of the Tests played. The final weight is only around 0.7%. But the concerned keepers get allocated much higher level of points: Dhoni gets around 8%.
7. Number of Test runs in opening position: This is to recognize the keepers who, in 10 minutes flat, changed their gloves and pads and started an equally difficult task. However let me add that this measure, like the Captaincy measure, also has an overall low weight of around 0.4%. Fewer than 4% of the runs scored by keepers are in the opening position. But the concerned keepers get allocated much higher level of points: Engineer gets around 6%.

The final ratings results are as expected.

Adam Gilchrist is the undisputed no.1. I am not sure whether anyone could dispute this honour, especially since the scoring rate has not even been factored in. He has achieved this through an outstanding keeping performances and above-average batting performances. Mark Boucher is in the second position. His is more due to the keeping abilities. Andy Flower, a top-flight batsman, very good keeper and a born leader, is in third position. Let us forget the poor Tests he might have had: Kamran Akmal's performances have been outstanding and he fully deserves his no.4 position. Dhoni, assisted strongly by the captaincy duties, completes the top-5. This is a reflection of the overall value to the team. Subjective factors such as quality of keeping, keeping stance, method of catching etc do not (and should not) come in. The legendary Marsh and Healy are in the top-10 positions.

11. A BCG Chart of Test wicketkeepers

BCG chart of wicketkeepers showing runs per Test and dismissals per Test
© Anantha Naryanan


Ah I am back to my favourite BCG charts. This is a perfect set of data elements to do a BCG chart and classify wicketkeepers into keeping-centric or batting-centric roles. The X-axis represents the more important measure: C-St per Test. The Y-axis represents the batting measure: Runs per Test. It can be seen that both are performance measures. Longevity does not come in. To make sure that we get in only players who have had a reasonably long career I have selected only keepers who cross the dual barrier of 100 dismissals and 1000 runs. 35 keepers qualify.

The top right quadrant contains the real top-fliers: those keepers who have done well both as keepers and batsmen. The quadrant is led by Gilchrist, followed by Kamran Akmal, Haddin, McCullum, Dhoni and Prior. All these are modern keepers and are here because they are all top quality batsmen.

The bottom-right quadrant is heavily populated and houses the top keepers who do not have great batting figures. This pack is led by Boucher and has Jones, Richardson amongst the modern players and Marsh, Dujon, Healy amongst the older players. Russell and Murray just about make it.

The top-left quadrant has the players who have batting figures comparable to any top batsmen but lag behind in keeping numbers. Andy Flower leads this group and other prominent players are Sangakkara, Stewart and Knott. The last is a surprise.

The bottom-left has a set of keepers who do not really make the cut. Average keeping returns and average batting returns. Kirmani, More, Oldfield, Evans, Mongia, Smith are in this lot.

Please note that the quadrant division is a subjective one and this graph is only a tool for visual separation. The Wicketkeeper Ratings table is far more in-depth one and incorporates all relevant measures.

12. 12 top innings played by Test wicketkeepers

Gilchrist - 149 (163) Pak 1469 1999 - Huge match-winning/saving stand with
Langer
Gilchrist - 144 (212) Bng 1797 2006 - Match saving/winning innings
Gilchrist - 138 (108) Saf 1593 2002 - Match-winning inns in close match
A Flower -  232*(444) Ind 1517 2000 - Possibly the best match-saving innings
in India
A Flower -  199*(470) Saf 1562 2001 - Another defensive classic
(142 in first innings)
Ian Smith - 173 (136) Ind 1139 1990 - Attacking match-saving inns
(from 131/7 to 391)
Rod Marsh - 110 (173) Eng 800 1977 - Priceless match-winning inns in
close centenary Test
K Akmal -   109 (154) Ind 1738 2005 - Match-saving away classic (from 243/6)
J Dujon -   139 (158) Aus 997 1984 - Match-winning first inns (From 186/6)
A Knott -   135 (210) Aus 806 1977 - Match-winning first inns (From 82/5)
N Mongia -  152 (366) Aus 1335 1996 - Match-winner while opening the innings
Imtiaz Ahd- 209 Nzl 414 1955 - All-time classic, coming in at 111/6 and
taking score to 561.


This has been presented in no particular order and based my own, often subjective, perusal of scorecards. I have also used the Hallmark-100 ratings numbers as a guideline. It was indeed tough to leave out Gilchrist's 102 in 59 balls, Engineer's 121, Sangakkara's 230, Healy's 161 et al. But let the readers come out with their suggestions.

13. A combined table of Test and ODI dismissals

WicketkeeperCty Tests  ODIs T20sTotal
  MatsCStAvgeMatsCStAvgeCStCSt
 
Boucher M.VSaf1475553.782954251.4419999
GilchristAus964164.332874741.6517907
Healy I.AAus1193953.321682331.39 628
SangakkaraSlk491462.983324091.2328583
Dhoni M.SInd682213.252112651.2618504
Marsh R.WAus963553.70921241.35 479
McCullumNzl651942.982032461.2137477
Dujon P.J.LWin792703.421692041.21 474
Moin KhanPak651472.262192851.30 432
Stewart A.JEng812412.981701741.02 415
Kamran AkmalPak532063.891371611.1845412
Jacobs R.DWin652183.351461871.28 405
Rashid LatifPak371303.511662191.32 349
KaluwitharanaSlk481192.481892071.10 326
Flower AZim551482.692131730.81 321
RichardsonSaf411523.711221651.35 317
HaddinAus431643.81931361.4616316
Ramdin DWin451332.96941311.3926290
Mongia N.RInd441072.431401541.10 261
Saleem YousufPak311043.35861031.20 207


One day Boucher might be quite happy to have stopped at 999 international dismissals since that is likely to be talked about more than if he had reached 1000, a la 99.94. One is a longevity based achievement and the other is performance-based one. It is unlikely that either achievement would ever be surpassed. Gilchrist follows closely with 900 plus dismissals and this mark is also almost unreachable. Healy follows, after a couple of miles, with 628 dismissals. This clearly shows the gap between the top-two and the rest.

Gilchrist leads both formats in the key CST per match measure. There is no combined CSt per match measure since the scale of the numbers is quite different for different formats.

At the end of this long article, I am as tired as the keepers might have been, after a tough 7-hour day in the office, except that they were baking in the sun. May their tribe flourish.

To download/view the comprehensive Excel sheet containing all the tables related to Test wicketkeepers, please CLICK HERE.

New table added.

Wicket keeper Balls kept analysis

        Balls / Match    
WicketKeeper Cty From To Pace Spin Pace% Spin%
Pace > 70%
Dujon P.J.L Win 1981 1991 788 166 82.6 17.4
Richardson Saf 1992 1998 862 192 81.8 18.2
Murray J.R Win 1993 2002 765 194 79.8 20.2
Boucher M.V Saf 1997 2012 771 205 79.0 21.0
Jones G.O Eng 2004 2006 774 251 75.5 24.5
Stewart A.J Eng 1990 2003 730 241 75.2 24.8
Russell R.C Eng 1988 1998 760 261 74.5 25.5
Browne C.O Win 1995 2005 788 272 74.4 25.6
Smith I.D.S Nzl 1980 1992 722 274 72.5 27.5
Ramdin D Win 2005 2012 719 278 72.1 27.9
Jacobs R.D Win 1998 2004 765 298 71.9 28.1
Marsh R.W Aus 1970 1984 760 318 70.5 29.5
Haddin B.J Aus 2008 2012 717 301 70.4 29.6
Spin > 50%
Engineer Ind 1961 1975 257 914 21.9 78.1
Kirmani Ind 1976 1986 383 660 36.7 63.3
Mongia N.R Ind 1994 2001 427 578 42.5 57.5
More K.S Ind 1986 1993 494 643 43.5 56.5
Sangakkara Slk 2000 2012 442 568 43.8 56.2
Kaluwitharna Slk 1992 2004 483 597 44.7 55.3
Oldfield Aus 1920 1937 599 692 46.4 53.6
Dhoni M.S Ind 2005 2012 504 546 48.0 52.0
Evans T.G Eng 1946 1959 544 550 49.7 50.3

The results are as expected. The West Indian keepers dominate the first part of the table which shows the keepers whose share of pace balls is greater than 70%. And India and Sri Lanka dominate the second half of the table which shows keepers whose share of spin deliveries is greater than 50%.

Based on comments of Biswa, Boll and Raghav, I have modified and posted the Excel sheet with the addl worksheet on a /Inns basis rather than /Test basis. All measures have been done on a per innings basis. Pl download and view the same. There is more churning than what i expected. In summary,

Kamran Akmal, Flower go down and Dhoni, Marsh, Dujon and Healy move up. The revised order is

Gilchrist
Boucher
Dhoni
Marsh
Healy
Dujon
Kamran Akmal
Richardson
McCullum
A Flower.

This, to me, seems a far more acceptable order in the top-10. All the top wicket-keepers are there at the top.

This article will be incomplete without a reference to Dennis Lindsay. He had, during 1966-67, against Australia, almost inarguably, the best series for an all-rounder (in the extended definition).

606 runs at 86.57, 24 dismissals and 6 byes (1.2 byes/Test). Unfortunately he played only 15 Tests. 61 dismissals and 1130 runs at 37+. So he had a truly wonderful series but no more than good otherwise. But a truly amazing byes/match value of 1.33. Many thanks to Gerry for poking me in the ribs about Lindsay.

Anantha Narayanan has written for ESPNcricinfo and CastrolCricket and worked with a number of companies on their cricket performance ratings-related systems

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • andyva on December 19, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    gerry the merry must get knotted and stop talking regarding graeme pollock and barry richards. check their respective records considering the short period they were able to ply their trade.

  • Taslim on November 20, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @Ananth I was surprised not to see the name of AB De villiers in the mentioned record. He is no were in the picture. Is he not included in the list of wicket keeper batsman ? [[ Where was he not mentioned? Anyhow he has kept in 4 matches and how can we judge him against keepers who have kept in over 75 Tests. Ananth: ]] Suppose, if you say that Boucher was keeping till lately, but then AB is the current wicket keeper in all three format is AB. In that case even Sangakkara (when kalu was there), Alec stewart, Brendon Mccullum were also amongst who have not played all their matches as wicket keeper?

  • tonyp on November 18, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    Sorry to be so late to comment here. I wonder if the introduction of neutral umpires and DRS on stumpings has impacted on the frequency of WK dismissals. [[ I do not have clear information on DRS. I think Cricinfo did a piece on that. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on September 13, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @Ananth, thanks, good to be back after a month or so somewhere close to the ACT, where internet access is at best unreliable. re.`bloody, bloody good`, pardon the French, but that`s pure bloody Aussie...well spoken sir! [[ I hope you saw that the switch to innings basis certainly caused a few significant changes. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on September 13, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    @ Ananth: thanks a lot for the analysis, and as you said a very clear trend. We could check the ratio of averages across decades to similar averages from top 7 batsmen and bowlers. My guess: wicketkeepers would have the highest increase. It also leads to an interesting idea of checking how many players are no longer specialists - batsmen with more than say 20 wickets and bowlers with average above 15. We can't bring fielding into this equation because of lack of stats but the point is that a lack of quality allrounders is leading to sharing of burden across a lot of other roles. South Africa with JK means that it can still afford specialization. [[ I think there is enough stuff in what you say to think of a dedicated article. Over the years, how the roles of the players have changed. Then we could have a complete set of tables and discussions would naturally follow. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 12, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Vikram Given below is the wicket-keeper batting average table. It is quite clear that upto 1970, the wicket-keeper averages have been on the lower side. Now these are very good and almost match the overall batting averages. There was an unexplained dip during the 1980s.

    Wicket keeper batting averages across periods
    Period     BatAvg W-Inns W-Nos W-Runs W-Avge
    1877-1914   23.06   440    85    5836  16.44
    1920-1939   31.40   429    81    8202  23.57
    1946-1959   28.81   635    86   11653  21.23
    1960-1969   30.82   588    73   12150  23.59
    1970-1979   30.77   624    83   14764  27.29
    1980-1989   30.46   773   109   15696  23.64
    1990-1999   29.46  1086   135   25952  27.29
    2000-2009   32.02  1490   180   41809  31.92
    2010-2012   32.30   357    41    9754  30.87
       All      30.18  6422   873  145816  26.28
    
    Ananth

  • Vikram on September 12, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    @Ananth, while this has to be one of your top-nothc analyses, the fact remains that the results at the top were very clear - gilchrist and boucher are way ahead of others on most statistcial parameters. There can be some debate about the best innings but there is not much to debate here or to excite (apart from Akmal). Unfortunate, as it really was informative. One thing that clearly stands out is the revised role of the wicketkeeper, from a specialist to an all rounder. I believe it would be interesting to see the ratio of avg scores by wicket keepers by decade vs. the ratio of avg scores of specialist bowlers by decade. I guess CS Martin is the only remaining specialist in the WK/bowler category. [[ Good point when you see the difference in batting stats between Grout/Langley/Evans/Tamhane and Gilchrist/Boucher/Dhoni/Akmal. Will do at least the wicket-keeper averages across the decades and post the sumamry table. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on September 12, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Vous parlez très bien français. [[ Beatles being my all-time favourite gpoup, I knew that "très bien ensemble" meant "put together very nicely" or something to that effect. "Vous parlaiz" means you speak. So I think you mean "You speak French very nicely". Merci, Milind. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 12, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    Ananth, thanks a ton! This clears up a number of things. I would suggest considering % instead of absolute delta for IInd inn, so that the Ist inn total becomes an input. Similarly, the 3rd Inn of 250 would generally represent a challenging target, but perhaps the Ist, IInd inn can be considered as input. In any case, perhaps you will open up a full blooded discussion on this later. So let me not pull this away from the topic. [[ The advantage with an absolute number instead of % is that it works well almost always: whether the first batting team scored 100 or 400. I am assuming that the second batting team would, in most cases, go for a win. A defensive attitude must come only if the target becomes wholloy unrealistic, in other words, facing 500+. In fact I have middle situations where the target is nothing more or less than the first innings score itself: in other words, to just match. I also feel that whether the 1st and 2nd innings scores are 100 & 100 or 400 & 400, the target in third innings must be 250. 100 & 100 should not set too low a target. If we ignore a match like Test # 9 (63, 101, 122 and 77), in almost all situations 250 is a very good winnable target. Nor should 400 & 400, require a high target, in view of the time lapsed. 400 & 400 might take 3 days in which case 400 is a defensive drawish move. 250 is a competitive win-seeking move. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 11, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    Ananth, to emphasize winning matches is correct. I myself fully support this approach. But like all approaches, this is not perfect either. 1) In Ist innings, the batsman has no target, and two identical innings may lead to different results for the team. The same thing can happen in the IInd inn also, but the smaller length of time remaining means such divergence will be theoretically subdued. [[ I work with clear targets in all innings. The first innings target is notional, say 400. It is the duty of batsmen to reach/or exceed the target. The extent to which they help their teams do it will determine the value. The fact that a team could score 153 and win the match does not and should come in at this stage. The second innings target is clear. It is set at a number between "first innings score - 200" to "first innings score + 200". The basis is obvious. It is silly to set a target of 1103 at Oval in 1938. The third innings target is very clear. It is to set a lead of 250. The fourth innings target is outstandingly clear. It is the difference + 1. While some of these may be notional these help define the innings. Ananth: ]] 2) Against teams like West Indies, the opposition was lucky just to take the odd test off them. By the results criteria, since teams always lost to them, most good innings would be filtered out. [[ Possible. But these good innings will come through if they are that good. If Fed has a 90% winning record at Wimbledon, it is that much more difficult to win against Fed there and the winners woould be recognized. Ananth: ]] Perhaps a refinement could be to weight the winning results points in an innings rating according to the opposition quality, since that analysis by you is complete. [[ It is already built in. There is a "win bonus" point which is determined based on the difference in quality between the two teams and the location. Finally, whatever I do, truly great losing cause efforts ALWAYS come through. In my current Ratings table, hopefully will see the daylight before the end of the year, it is impossible to take Astle's 222 off the top-10 or Laxman's 167 off the top-100. But the innings have to be, pardon my french, bloody bloody good. Ananth: ]]

  • andyva on December 19, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    gerry the merry must get knotted and stop talking regarding graeme pollock and barry richards. check their respective records considering the short period they were able to ply their trade.

  • Taslim on November 20, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @Ananth I was surprised not to see the name of AB De villiers in the mentioned record. He is no were in the picture. Is he not included in the list of wicket keeper batsman ? [[ Where was he not mentioned? Anyhow he has kept in 4 matches and how can we judge him against keepers who have kept in over 75 Tests. Ananth: ]] Suppose, if you say that Boucher was keeping till lately, but then AB is the current wicket keeper in all three format is AB. In that case even Sangakkara (when kalu was there), Alec stewart, Brendon Mccullum were also amongst who have not played all their matches as wicket keeper?

  • tonyp on November 18, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    Sorry to be so late to comment here. I wonder if the introduction of neutral umpires and DRS on stumpings has impacted on the frequency of WK dismissals. [[ I do not have clear information on DRS. I think Cricinfo did a piece on that. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on September 13, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    @Ananth, thanks, good to be back after a month or so somewhere close to the ACT, where internet access is at best unreliable. re.`bloody, bloody good`, pardon the French, but that`s pure bloody Aussie...well spoken sir! [[ I hope you saw that the switch to innings basis certainly caused a few significant changes. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on September 13, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    @ Ananth: thanks a lot for the analysis, and as you said a very clear trend. We could check the ratio of averages across decades to similar averages from top 7 batsmen and bowlers. My guess: wicketkeepers would have the highest increase. It also leads to an interesting idea of checking how many players are no longer specialists - batsmen with more than say 20 wickets and bowlers with average above 15. We can't bring fielding into this equation because of lack of stats but the point is that a lack of quality allrounders is leading to sharing of burden across a lot of other roles. South Africa with JK means that it can still afford specialization. [[ I think there is enough stuff in what you say to think of a dedicated article. Over the years, how the roles of the players have changed. Then we could have a complete set of tables and discussions would naturally follow. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 12, 2012, 18:08 GMT

    Vikram Given below is the wicket-keeper batting average table. It is quite clear that upto 1970, the wicket-keeper averages have been on the lower side. Now these are very good and almost match the overall batting averages. There was an unexplained dip during the 1980s.

    Wicket keeper batting averages across periods
    Period     BatAvg W-Inns W-Nos W-Runs W-Avge
    1877-1914   23.06   440    85    5836  16.44
    1920-1939   31.40   429    81    8202  23.57
    1946-1959   28.81   635    86   11653  21.23
    1960-1969   30.82   588    73   12150  23.59
    1970-1979   30.77   624    83   14764  27.29
    1980-1989   30.46   773   109   15696  23.64
    1990-1999   29.46  1086   135   25952  27.29
    2000-2009   32.02  1490   180   41809  31.92
    2010-2012   32.30   357    41    9754  30.87
       All      30.18  6422   873  145816  26.28
    
    Ananth

  • Vikram on September 12, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    @Ananth, while this has to be one of your top-nothc analyses, the fact remains that the results at the top were very clear - gilchrist and boucher are way ahead of others on most statistcial parameters. There can be some debate about the best innings but there is not much to debate here or to excite (apart from Akmal). Unfortunate, as it really was informative. One thing that clearly stands out is the revised role of the wicketkeeper, from a specialist to an all rounder. I believe it would be interesting to see the ratio of avg scores by wicket keepers by decade vs. the ratio of avg scores of specialist bowlers by decade. I guess CS Martin is the only remaining specialist in the WK/bowler category. [[ Good point when you see the difference in batting stats between Grout/Langley/Evans/Tamhane and Gilchrist/Boucher/Dhoni/Akmal. Will do at least the wicket-keeper averages across the decades and post the sumamry table. Ananth: ]]

  • milpand on September 12, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    Vous parlez très bien français. [[ Beatles being my all-time favourite gpoup, I knew that "très bien ensemble" meant "put together very nicely" or something to that effect. "Vous parlaiz" means you speak. So I think you mean "You speak French very nicely". Merci, Milind. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 12, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    Ananth, thanks a ton! This clears up a number of things. I would suggest considering % instead of absolute delta for IInd inn, so that the Ist inn total becomes an input. Similarly, the 3rd Inn of 250 would generally represent a challenging target, but perhaps the Ist, IInd inn can be considered as input. In any case, perhaps you will open up a full blooded discussion on this later. So let me not pull this away from the topic. [[ The advantage with an absolute number instead of % is that it works well almost always: whether the first batting team scored 100 or 400. I am assuming that the second batting team would, in most cases, go for a win. A defensive attitude must come only if the target becomes wholloy unrealistic, in other words, facing 500+. In fact I have middle situations where the target is nothing more or less than the first innings score itself: in other words, to just match. I also feel that whether the 1st and 2nd innings scores are 100 & 100 or 400 & 400, the target in third innings must be 250. 100 & 100 should not set too low a target. If we ignore a match like Test # 9 (63, 101, 122 and 77), in almost all situations 250 is a very good winnable target. Nor should 400 & 400, require a high target, in view of the time lapsed. 400 & 400 might take 3 days in which case 400 is a defensive drawish move. 250 is a competitive win-seeking move. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 11, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    Ananth, to emphasize winning matches is correct. I myself fully support this approach. But like all approaches, this is not perfect either. 1) In Ist innings, the batsman has no target, and two identical innings may lead to different results for the team. The same thing can happen in the IInd inn also, but the smaller length of time remaining means such divergence will be theoretically subdued. [[ I work with clear targets in all innings. The first innings target is notional, say 400. It is the duty of batsmen to reach/or exceed the target. The extent to which they help their teams do it will determine the value. The fact that a team could score 153 and win the match does not and should come in at this stage. The second innings target is clear. It is set at a number between "first innings score - 200" to "first innings score + 200". The basis is obvious. It is silly to set a target of 1103 at Oval in 1938. The third innings target is very clear. It is to set a lead of 250. The fourth innings target is outstandingly clear. It is the difference + 1. While some of these may be notional these help define the innings. Ananth: ]] 2) Against teams like West Indies, the opposition was lucky just to take the odd test off them. By the results criteria, since teams always lost to them, most good innings would be filtered out. [[ Possible. But these good innings will come through if they are that good. If Fed has a 90% winning record at Wimbledon, it is that much more difficult to win against Fed there and the winners woould be recognized. Ananth: ]] Perhaps a refinement could be to weight the winning results points in an innings rating according to the opposition quality, since that analysis by you is complete. [[ It is already built in. There is a "win bonus" point which is determined based on the difference in quality between the two teams and the location. Finally, whatever I do, truly great losing cause efforts ALWAYS come through. In my current Ratings table, hopefully will see the daylight before the end of the year, it is impossible to take Astle's 222 off the top-10 or Laxman's 167 off the top-100. But the innings have to be, pardon my french, bloody bloody good. Ananth: ]]

  • dinesh on September 11, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    I Hope Fed and Djoker will be on the Oppsite side of the Draw as Nadal however awesome he is on Clay,will take time to recover and get Match fit as Tennis is the most Gruelling Sport and the most perfect example we can have is Djokovic's 5hours and 6 hours consecutive matches to win Aus open for me will be the most mind blowing performance ever to wind a Slam.How can a player who was stretched for 5 hours can come back and then play for 6 hours?

    And this is now well and trully the Golden generation of Tennis as we have a Certain Del potro lurking around. [[ I think Del Potro has to show more consistency a la Ferrer, who does not have the game as the other 5/6. Ananth: ]]

  • Vikram on September 11, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    @Ananth: Given Murray's win, maybe Lendl should be called out on this forum. His contribution to Murray's growth has been phenomenal (a la Border to AU team). Also, just repeating a point that I made earlier, Ananth, on this forum we should differentiate between best innings and most valuable innings. An innings which leads to a victory is a valuable inning. If it was the rubber-decider test, it is so much more valuable. But it need not be the best innings. I don't see any clash of purity between the two. [[ I agree with you fully. See my reponse to Gerry earlier. In 12 years of innings/match analysis I have never given up the result parameter. While the Aus SF loss to Djoko, Wimbledon loss to Fed could be termed as significant milsestones, those are nothing compared to the twin wins recently. It is the same as the 1983 win for India. For the first time India knew they could compete with the greats. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 11, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    Ananth: That was an Epic final. The Usual Manchester United like Surge From Djoker when everthing seems lost to the New found toughness in Murray to hold of that Surge which not many have handled well in the Last two years. I see a new Dawn.

    I know this is a Long shot but I would probably go for Nole winning Aus and French open as Aus is his Fav Slam and Murray battling it out with Djoker and losing out in the fina and since Nadal is out and i dont think we will have the same Nadal back as a Knee injury in tennis are Career threatening.Djoker is the best of the current Top 3 on Clay and Murray's least favored Surface. Federer or Murray winning Wimbledon and Djokovic/Del potro and Murray battling it out US open(All as a long Shot).

    Those breaks made the match even more special.If any match can be called See-Saw this was it.

    That tie break was Trully Outstanding. None of the two won both the points of their Serves.That tie break it self took more time than some of the womens Matches. [[ I fully agree on excitement. It was breath-taking. An year back Murray would have lost the final set 6-2. Now he found the resolve to break twice in the first three games in the fifth set. Federer is very good on clay and if Nadal is not there, I cannot see that hapening, Federer has as good a chance of winning at RG as Djokovic especially as the surface would be a slower one. It is a fact that in a Nadal-free era, Federer would have won at least 3 French titles. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 11, 2012, 6:31 GMT

    The four Grand Slams have been won by four different players. This has happened after 9 years. During 2003 Agassi, Ferrero, Federer and Roddick won the four Grand Slams. Milind had predicted three months back that Murray's best surface was US Open. The Gold medal was a bonus. Also it is nice to note that the four GS champions won on their best surfaces. As far as Grand Slams are concerned, Djokovic is first with 5120 points, followed by Murray, with 4280, Federer with 3800 points and Nadal, with 3245 points. Once the year-end Master's is completed, this might change if we incorporate that and the Olympics. All said and done, a great year and a good sign for the future with four strong contenders. The final itself was exciting but not great tennis. 17 service breaks out of 50 games is way too high and it seemed like a woman's singles match in this regard. The pace, however, was furious. I have never seen a men's singles match with so many service breaks.

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 10, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    Ananth, I just looked up the scorecard again - remarkably, for the last 3 wickets, 122 runs were added, with noted bunnies Lawson, Hogg and Alderman making a total contribution of 15 runs. This is 12.3%.

    Extras were 7.2% in this innings. Assuming consistency through the innings, Phillips must have contributed 80% = 98 runs with the last three guys. Places this in the Azhar Mahmood league...!

    And now if you adjust for the bowling quality...well, well.

    May I please know what was the ranking of this innings? Or was it drowned by the match lost criterion? [[ Gerry, as far as I am concerned, a very good (even one of top-10) innings by a keeper. But let us not go overboard. Pl refer to my article on the first innings and the reader responses. There are so many wonderful innings. I am not even going to give you the rating points. We will unnecessarily go off the track. And think of me as a non-purist. I will take a winning 100 over a losing 100 every single time, if other things are equal. There are a dozen factors and these together ensure an innings' exalted standing , or otherwise. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 10, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Ananth, fair enough. But note that 1) I dont know if the 4th or even the 3rd bowler were very effective on this tour in 1981-82. In truth it was only Holding (3 tests 24 wickets). The rest added some pressure but were failures in this series. In 1984, we had a different attack. Holding was still very strong, Marshall had climbed to his peak, and Garner was back in a newball avatar (where his record matches Marshall's every bit).

    2) Barbados in 1984 must have been the ultimate fortress in cricket

    3) Hughes had Border, Welham and Marsh for company. By the time Marsh fell, the score was 115. Last four wickets added 83. In contrast, when Phillips came in, ALL top batsmen were gone. He made 120 out of 166 which is 72% of the runs.

    I can state with complete conviction that against the West Indies at their peak, this was one of the top 5 innings ever played. So perhaps, not comparable to Hughes 100*, but pretty close. [[ Fair enough. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 9, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    Perhaps the most violent attacking innings against an all-time great attack by a wicket keeper.

    Among the lesser known wicket keepers was the Australian opener Wayne Bentley Phillips. He was the most explosive batsman produced by Australia, I would say in the same league as Gilchrist. He was however made to keep wickets in the mid-80s and this experiment was a big failure.

    In his role as wicketkeeper, he however played an innings which was perhaps the equal of the Wisden #6 by Kim Hughes.

    In 3rd test at Barbados (1984), coming in at 263/6, he made 120 in 197 balls including 4 sixes, if I remember correctly all hooks off Joel Garner, a couple blasted out of the stadium, against a full strength West Indies attack. He added 63 with Alderman for the last wicket, in which Alderman contributed 2. Were it not for a slender lead of 97 taken by West Indies (enough to almost force an innings victory), this innings may well have featured in Wisden 100, I feel. Strongly recommended here. [[ A very good innings but no comparison with Hughes' 100. Much lower scores. Close Australian win. Four top bowlers. A T7 average of 57 against the Barbodas figure of 97. But let us acknowledge a very good innings. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on September 7, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    It is interesting to see how relatively well Wally Grout did on both rating systems. On the per Test system he was #24 and on the per Inning list he was #14. Only Dujon who moved from 18th to 6th, moved up more than Grout's 24th to 14th. It is all the more impressive when you consider that Grout was statistically one of the worst batsmen among the featured wicketkeepers with 17.5 RPT and 13.3 RPI - he was a bona fide #8/#9 batsman. Shows that good "pure" keeping stats can reveal an underestimated value of a player even if his batting skills are found wanting. [[ Also shows how volatile these rankings can be. Change the basis, most places get changed. The only thing that is certain is the Gilchrist and Boucher are no.1 and no.2, whichever way we slice and dice. If only we had a clear handle on missed chances, we can do a true wicket-keeper rankings. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 7, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    Ananth, the best series for an all rounder must always be 1966 England vs Sobers. 722 runs @ 103, 20 wickets @ 20, 10 catches, captain with a 3-1 series win (3-0 before England pulled one back), and to to it all, all 5 tosses won... but Lindsay may come a close second. [[ I asked for it: did I not? Let us say that Lindsay's performance was the best ever by a wicket-keeper in a Test series. And amazing fact that the two performances were within 6 months of each other. I get the feeling that in 1966 the only thing Sobers did not do was to wear his inners outside his leotards, fly and save the world. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 7, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Dennis Lindsay may not have featured anywhere in this article. He may not have played any of the greatest innings by a wicketkeeper. But this article is about keepers, and I have not come across any batting performance against a top flight team by a wicket keeper that matches his heroics in 1966-67.

    Each of his three centuries was crafted in difficult circumstances, he was the top run getter, South Africa won a close series, and Lindsay was the WK.

    In Johannesburg, his 182 came when he entered at 5/268 in the IInd inn, after his team trailed by 126 in Ist inn, compiled a double century stand for the 7th wkt.

    In Durban he came at 4/83 and made 137 out of only 217 added. That was also a matchwinning inn.

    In 4th test also at J Burg, he came in at 4/120 and made 131 out of 212 added, and though this match was drawn, his innings came in challenging circumstances.

    I feel in this article, for his monumental series contribution, he deserves a mention. [[ Agree with you 100%. He deserves a paragraph and this comment can do that. I will also make a reference in the article. Possibly the best series for an all-rounder (in the extended definition). 606 runs at 86.57, 24 dismissals and 6 byes (1.2 byes/Test). Unfortunately he played only 15 Tests. 61 dismissals and 1130 runs at 37+. So he had a truly wonderful series but no more than good otherwise. But a truly amazing byes/match value of 1.33. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on September 6, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    revision looks good.

    I was thinking, for the keeping data, would including ODI in the selected data help paint a clearer picture (particularly byes stats)?

    Keeping being one aspect of the game where the skills required for non-tests is identical to skills keeping for test.

    Would also give some sort of validity to the test numbers, since for any given player, it'd be easy to see if they fare about the same (or not) in ODI.

    What do you think, Ananth? [[ Really would not work. My databases are separate and I did special tables extracting data rather than processing the data. Assuming that I can take care of that, the scales are different. The average BpM is around 7 for Tests. It might be 3 for ODIs. And this is irrelevant for more than half the keepers. Finally the method of keeping itself seems different. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 6, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    @Ananth: have you used different number of innings for Keeping / Batting analysis which you have redone? Gilchrist batted in 137 innings and his runs/innings is right. But you cannot use 137 for his keeping stats. Gilchrist kept wicktes in 191 innings and this should be the denominator for keeping stats.

    The real crux of Boll's demand was to use different innings figures for Batting and Keeping. I apologise if I missed something in the excel sheet [[ I realized that in the morning as I woke up. Problem is that I am running short of data fields and had re-used the Team_CSt field to store the Innings_played. You will notice the zero in the Excel sheet. This does not matter in the Ratings analysis since this is not a Ratable data. Now I have to find another way of storing separately the Innings _kept_wicket and Innings_batted. I will see what can be done. My gut feel is that the second table will not change much. Hopefully by evening. Alternately a better method would be to use the per innings only for batting and revert to per Test for keeping. This can be done immediately. Probably this is what I will do. This can be done within the hour. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 5, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    Biswa/Boll/Raghav, I have modified and posted the Excel sheet with the addl worksheet on a /Inns basis rather than /Test basis. All measures have been done on a per innings basis. Pl download and view the same. There is more churning than what i expected. In summary, Kamran Akmal, Flower go down and Dhoni, Marsh, Dujon and Healy move up. The revised order is

    Gilchrist Boucher Dhoni Marsh Healy Dujon Kamran Akmal Richardson McCullum A Flower.

    This, to me, seems a far more acceptable order in the top-10. All the top wicket-keepers are there at the top. Biswa, many thanks and Boll and Raghav. Ananth

  • dale on September 5, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    During the 1st Test against the West Indies in 1950, Godfrey Evans scored a remarkable century in England's 1st inning. The wicket was spinner friendly from the very first session as evidenced by Valentine taking 5-34 from 17 overs before lunch. Evans batting at #8 went in to bat with the score at 88-5 (Hutton had retired hurt)He scored an attacking 104 out of the 161 runs added while he was at the crease. This guided England to a first inning total of 312 runs which was the foundation for their only win in the series - they lost 3-1 to the heroic West Indies. [[ A real classic: One of only two Evans hundreds, both being 104. A classic. And a very defensive innings also, exactly what was needed. Added the 161 with Barnacle B. The other 104 against India was also a good timely innings. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 5, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    @Boll; I think you have a point here. Figures do need rationalising here to reflect the opportunity the player. The per test figures works for most players. But then there are extreme cases that you have pointed out.

    However, you will see that Gilchrist is favoured in his wicketkeeping and penalised in his batting. His overall ranking may not be affected. However, I would still like the figures per test. Gilchrist has been depcited as a better keeper and a poorer batsman which may change if we look at innings analysis. [[ I will do and post this as an added Excel sheet by tomorrow evening. I need to do this work if only to see the impact on the gap between Gilchrist and the second. Ananth: ]] @Ananth: There was some discussion on dismissal of top order wickets. You mentioned it was similar to the bowler analysis. I diifer somewhat here: catching a top order batsman or a tailender requires the same effort/skill of keeper, whereas bowler needs more skill and effort to induce edge from a top order batsman vis-a-vis tailender. However, I agree on the value of catching a top order batsman beind more. [[ Raghav, if you peruse my reply I have only mentioned about the value to the team. And there are many instances wherein a bowler bowls an ordinary ball to a top order bat and dismisses him due to a great catch, stumping, appeal (especially if the ball was nowhere the bat!!!) and so on. Ananth: ]]

  • peterfromspain on September 5, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Could your criteria here, adapted to present keepers be used as the basis, or at least a starting discussion point for a real time test/ODI/T20 ranking for current keepers in all formats to go with all the other official rankings we have. I think you have the makings of a good system for that. Perhaps it would also confirm current thinking that Prior is the best W/K at the moment!! [[ On the current ranking Prior is only somewhere in the middle. Just above 3 CtSt/match and a very high 10+ Byes/match and a good RpT. Dhoni is better on the first two measures and Haddin on the first. Pure keeping ability is not measurable. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on September 5, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    re. the statistics themselves, I tend to agree with @Biswajyoti, that runs/dismissals per innings may provide a fairer comparison of performance here.

    I looked at two of the prominent players (Flower and Gilchrist) and noticed large differences in the percentages of innings batted per test and innings fielded per test - obviously a result of playing for an exceptionally strong team and a relatively weak one.

    Flower: 55 tests/100 batting innings. RPT:80/ RPI:44 Gilchrist: 96 tests/137 batting innings. RPT: 58/ RPI: 41

    In playing 41 less tests, Flower (ave.position 5.1, not 5.0 by my calculations) actually batted in 4 more 2nd innings than Gilchrist - this is largely the cause of the large discrepancy between their RPT/RPI figures.

    When we look at `keeping however, Gilchrist kept in 191 innings (i.e. twice in all but one test) at 2.18 dismissals per innings. Flower kept in 96 innings at 1.54 dismissals per innings, a smaller discrepancy than DPT figures would suggest

    Just a thought [[ I have missed you, my dear friend from ACT (okay from somewhere nearby!!!). I can see that Gilchrist would have played fewer innings since Australia might have won many matches by an innings or lt 5 wickets down. I am a great fan of using the Test as a unit of contribution and if it favours the weaker team players, all the better. I can still do the computation to see whether there are significant changes. Ananth: ]]

  • Boll on September 5, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    It`s been a while...anyway, I know some people have made pertinent points about the limitations of a statistical analysis of keepers, specifically of wicket-keeping. To be fair to Ananth, he made reference to these quite some time ago, when pressed to provide an analysis of this type. It`s a little harsh to judge him now for providing what many have asked for over the past few years.

    Probably the closest comparison in sporting terms would be the performances of a catcher in baseball (a guilty pleasure of mine after a few years in the far east). However, fielding statistics (particularly in terms of errors) in baseball have long formed an important part of analysis in that sport - cricket has been very slow in catching up (measuring bowling/pitching speeds is another example) thus the problems people are having with some of the limited data available.

  • Som on September 5, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    Ananth - With the ICC nominations for Test/ODI players of the year being announced and also the respective team for each format, there is a huge (and justified) hue and cry over the omission of Ajmal, and some not so worthy inclusion in the teams. Based on the criteria that you have oft used to rate innings and bowling performances matches, what would be the team composition you would suggest and the nominations. [[ ICC may do this after 8 months. I will do it in January as part of my annual review articles. Let us give the last year a miss. Ananth: ]]

  • ykd on September 4, 2012, 22:24 GMT

    Stumping techniques have changed over the years, partly due to an increased requirement for batting, but also, I believe, due to the third umpire and the tv replay. Whereas it was not uncommon for top stumpers to take the ball and wait for the precise moment when a foot lifted to remove the bails, nowadays it seems standard practice to belt the woodwork and hope the replay gives it out. Old-timers also operated without snicko and hotspot on catches. The benefit-of-the-doubt-to-the-batsman theory (not a rule) must have cost them plenty in the stats column. These are very good stats, but I cannot read them without thinking about how the game has changed and made it easier for poorer keeping with regard to hand skills, footwork and anticipation to be successful at the highest level and, thus, be copied by the next generation to the point where average is seen as quality. Thus, maybe it is right to say stumpings are more of a bowler's wicket these days, but I don't think it was always so.

  • Uday on September 4, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    To all the Kamran haters - Because of the lack of data, the analysis can't reflect the number of fluffed chances. What is clear from table 3 is that the bowlers who he played with produced a lot of chances for him, enabling him to have a high dismissals per test ratio, even though he might have dropped a lot of catches and missed a lot of stumpings.

    @Waspsting - My guess on Latif's numbers on % of team dismissals is that this has to do with Saqlain's doosra more than the two Ws. Another factor is probably that because the two W's got so many LBWs and bowleds, it reduced the overall caught/stumped numbers for the team, giving Latif a higher percentage. My best guess on Kamran is that he kept a lot to bowlers like Shoaib, Asif and Gul, who don't rely that much on swing (in the same way that Mcgrath, Gillespie and Lee are probably responsible for Gilchrist and Healy's numbers). The older Pak keepers I cant comment on since I never saw them play.

  • Biswajyoti on September 4, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    I suggest taking runs per innings instead of run per test as the criteria for judging batting performances. [[ I am not sure about it. An innings is the wrong unit for such an overall analysis of contributions. A keeper might come in at 6 down and get out due to various reasons. Or may remain not out for a low score. There should be another innings to cover this up if we take a Test as the basis. A Test is a nice unit to measure contributions. It also includes the crucial fourth innings. Finally there would be very little change. Ananth: ]]

  • alfred on September 4, 2012, 19:13 GMT

    it's a very good and painstaking compilation, congrats...

  • Nagam on September 4, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    Ananth you are the best of the best..!!! [[ Not sure about it, but will publish since there is no reason to not publish it. Anyhow thanks. Ananth: ]]

  • uday on September 4, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    Im not surprised to see so many Australian keepers doing well in this analysis. Australian tracks are generally bouncy, so in Australia dismissals tend to be caught behind rather than LBWs and bowleds. Similarly, keepers in teams with a lot of spinners are at a disadvantage since (as you have pointed out) a great number of edges go to slip, and spinners tend to get a much higher % of bat pad dismissals. Nevertheless, this only means that Australian keepers are called upon to do more behind the stumps, and does not detract from the value they bring to the team.

    Im also not surprised to see a higher number of byes per test for the older keepers. Before the two bouncer per over rule was introduced, Im sure a lot of byes were conceded because of higher than expected bouncers. [[ Good points. The West Indian keepers like Dujon, Alexander and Murray have somewhat high Byes/match: around 10. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 4, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    Ananth: Dr.Talha and others cant be blamed when they say Kamran's keeping is as bad as anything that is out there. The thing is people's memory is short.There is only upto a certain point of time that the Goodwill of your work carries. His keeping was damn good till a certain period of time.Even then he would drop a catch like everyone else does. So fans dint mind that. But when his keeping deteriorated and his errors cost the team dearly then people started noticing and pressure on him increased his keeping rather than getting better became worse and it all culminated in spectaular fashion in Sydney Test. People were baying for his blood. All sorts of spoofs were flying in the Internet.

    So much so that when Kamran did a good stumping in yesterday's match and people thought it was the end of the world.

    Every keeper drops a catch but when kamran drops it people look at the previous drops and add those to this drop and magnify these as if he dropped the world Cup.

  • Waspsting on September 4, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    i'd have thought the Pak keepers would score lower down, given the emphasis on in movement of the bowlers.

    By contrast, Pak slip fielders are well below Aus, SA.

    Maybe Pak bowlers gets thinner edges - being primarily inswing bowlers, the edge comes from balls that don't move in (as opposed to move out - a more standard tactic to get wickets in most places)?

    ----------

    Ananth, you've floored me with this analysis. If my comments seem disjointed its because the stats contradict my intuition (don't think its happened like this on any of your previous pieces) [[ Maybe we are too fixed in our way of thinking. The bowled/lbw dismissals of the two W's are so vivid that we tend to assume more such occurences than what was there. Or that these two greats were as adept at finding the edge as they were at finding the legs and stumps. Ananth: ]] Let me just throw out one solid piece of info i know (as opposed to the rambling speculations of most of what i've come up with here). Gerry Alexander - who i don't know too much about - topped the WI batting averages in Aus 60/61 - ahead of Sobers and Kanhai - and both those great batsman played a couple of their best ever innings in that series.

  • Waspsting on September 4, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    they aren't matching the data, AT ALL. Akmal is one of the worst keepers I've seen - and i'm pretty sure i'm not blowing out of proportion some of his worst moments - in saying this. (and as ever, there's no malice involved)

    (missing 1 chance per match is not all a realistic standard - especially for top keepers. I've watched every ball of 5 match series' where Gilchrist, Healy and Dujon didn't miss one)

    Looking at the guys at the top of the tree, perhaps catches to the keepers have increased to a high in recent times? You've got Marsh who took to Lillee's outswingers and legcutters (not to mention Thommo), finishing behind Akmal, Jones et. al??

    Most of the top dismissal per test guys are 90s onwards - i'd speculate the batsmen just get more edges now (more open bat face shots, with ODIs taking off maybe?)

    ---

    another finding that surprised me was % of dismissals keepers involved in, and the # of Pak players there - Akmal, Yousuf, Latif particularly. (cont)

  • Waspsting on September 4, 2012, 12:04 GMT

    k, thinking out loud here.

    in the absence of missed chances data, we look for stats that are the best indicators of "Quality of Keeper".

    Dismissals per test has Browne, Jones and Akmal at 2,3 and 4. (this is VERY at odds with how I'd rate the top keepers)

    Byes per test doesn't look as bad, but again, not the names i'd have expected to see.

    Either my intuition on keepers is WAY OFF, or these stats (the best available) don't quite measure a keepers skill (assuming that chances missed per balls would be the best measure).

    -----------

    Subjectively, i don't care much for "grace" in a keeper, but only keep an eye on what i see them miss.

    Healy was very graceful, Gilchrist was not (shorter guys seem to look better). from my viewing i think Gilchrist missed less.

    Two other guys who impressed me were Alec Steward (can't remember him missing a chance) and Ridley Jacobs (didn't have Dujon - or even Browne's acrobatic flamboyance, but was very solid)

    whatever my subjective criteria (cont)

  • Som on September 4, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Ananth - Not sure if you had an article on 'pure wicketkeeping skills'. When we so oft say that Healy/Marsh/Knott in that skill was perhaps better than Gilchrist. Or Boucher and Jayawardene might be equal to or better than Gilchrist, what are those statistical criteria which would allow us to make that measurements? As you have highlighted so many times in your article and comments above, we might not have data to capture or answer some of those critical questions. But it feels disappointing that there may not ever be a way to analyse pure wicketkeeping skills. Should there be a way to arrive at such an analysis, one might be better off making that trade off between playing a pure wicketkeeper (on a sliding scale), vis a vis one who barely fulfills the need and is more a batsman. Of course there is also the element of bowling firepower and its reliance on wicketkeeper to get their job done and thus shapes the requirement of the modern day keeper. [[ Som, it is not that this data is not available. For matches of the past 10-15 years, there is conmplete data available. But in the private, not in the public domain. The team analysts would have the complete data available to them on every single wicket-keeping act of omission or commission. So they would know what to do. Ananth: ]]

  • Ravi on September 4, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    Ananth, a Good article. Can you or one of the readers enlighten e on the definition of 'stumping'. Is it only against spin bowling? When facing a fast bowler a batsman is caught short of his crease by a direct throw from the keeper he is generally given run out. Why? [[ The following is an extract from Tom Smith's classic. The batsman is out stumped if 1. he is out of his ground 2. not a "no ball" 3. he is not attempting a run 4. the wicket is put down without any intervention by another fielder. The bowler could be a spinner, pace bowler or Coney (the slowest pace bowler of all time). Ananth: ]] 2. When a keeper/fielder takes the bails out but the batsman is safely across the line, runs for overthrows, then I understand ICC rules require that he can be run out if the fielder then uproots ALL 3 stumps out of the ground catching the batsman short. In this case the fielder will likely need to use his hands/shoulders etc. Surely a ball cannot uproot three stumps! In that case is the batsman given run out? Has this ever happened? [[ The fielder has to pull the stumps out of the ground using whatever part of the body available if the balis are off. Ananth: ]]

  • Shahir on September 4, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Kamran Akmal's wicketkeeping stats can never be complete without accounting for the runs and wins he's cost his team, and bowlers whose careers he's destroyed. A conservative list of his errors and runs he's cost is listed here: http://is.gd/cJ2JNX

    Secondly regarding his high dismissals/Test figure, I believe this is a case of more chances being created for the wicketkeeper than anything else.

    Following is % of bowled/lbw dismissals by Pakistan in Tests where either Rashid Latif, Moin Khan or Kamran Akmal were wicketkeepers:

    1. Rashid Latif - 288 bowled/lbws in 37 matches = 7.78 per match http://is.gd/sdAGGJ

    2. Moin Khan - 457 in 67 = 6.82 per match http://is.gd/yqM6HK

    3. Kamran Akmal - 313 in 52 = 6.02 per match http://is.gd/u0nCJO

    Akmal has higher dismissals per Test, especially when compared to Latif, simply because more chances for caught behind/stumping are available.

    In his particular case, some footnotes are needed. The stats don't paint a complete picture. [[ As I have already mentioned, this is outside my zone of comfort. I understand the depth of feelings of you guys. Pl send your comments. These will be posted if they conform. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 4, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    "Isn't this already there."

    Ananth, I meant that WK dismissals / team dismissals. Not WK / Similar dismissals of team, which is what you have given.

    What I am proposing will roughly adj WK performance for team bowling quality. On this, I have a hunch that subcontinent WKs will have lower score.

    Per test is not important. But to take the same tests (in which WK has played) is necessary.

    [[ I have considered, for the team, the catches/stumpings and done a proportion. Do you think it will show anything diffrent if I add all the other forms of dismissals. In what way would the number of bowled/lbw/run out dismisaals throw any addional light. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on September 4, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    @ananth. The duration of his bad wicketkeeping (2006 till date) is so long that i cannot even request you to watch a partcular series. I am a Pakistani and i have been watching every pakistani match (plus televised matches of other teams), ball by ball since last 25 years (since 1987 indian tour). I have not seen a person with such wicketkeeping skills play for so long. If you ever get time, do watch the Pak-Eng 2006 series, Pak-SAF 2007 series...and obviuosly everyone knows about his sydney test performance. There are a number of others but even if you watch these you will have an idea that, on what stages of the match and what kind of batsmen did he dropped. There is no second opinion about his batting skills. He is very good in that department, but his wicketkeeping has cost Pak a lot of important matches. [[ Dt.T, I do not want to get into this. I have a bad feeling about this. I can only speak based on numbers. But there are too many other factors coming in. Suddenly someone is going to say that I have pushed up Kamran because he has let Pakistan down. And so on... Ananth: ]]

  • Som on September 4, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    Thanks Ananth for taking up the MVP project as soon as it can be done (Kallis/Sachin retirement). One important element in that would perhaps be the tenure over which the value was delivered. A combined measure of runs/wickets/cts etc adding up to 40,000(say), over a period of 10 years is much more valuable in intensity and effect than 40,000 over 15 yrs. And as you get the drift, value will perhaps be a function of the percentage of contribution to the team and thus will be diluted if the tenure gets longer (after steep cutoffs are met). As such, it might well be inferred that one could pick and choose the best continuous patch in a player's career when his value was more than a comparative patch of another(again after meeting stiff cutoffs, the only problem being, the exponential effect of sole skill contributors can perhaps gets unfairly accentuated or diminished when portions of their contributions are compared to allrounders - but I am sure you will find a way to nullify it). [[ The MVP door has just been opened. A lot of thoinking will have to be put in and will be done. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on September 4, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    @Ejaz. Its not since 2 years that kamran akmal is doing badly behind the stumps. He started this untidy work from Lords 2006, (1st test, Eng vs Pak). Since then he has been very consistent in dropping cathes and that too of the main batsmen of opposition (e.g Hussey at sydney and Ross taylor in WC). But for some odd reasons he & a few others like hafeez,sami,farhat etc are always there in the team, despite of being such repeated failures & extremely inconsistent. A pakistani match is not complete without Akmal dropping a catch or missing stumping. He did it last night as well, when he missed the stumping of Wade at a crucial stage of the match. He has been horrible behind the stumps in the past 6 years, and has been a major asset for the OPPOSITON. [[ I cannot but be bamboozled by this. If a keeper is as bad as you portray him to be AND STILL has a near-4 DpT and a 50+ RpT, then who and what is he. Is he the most outstanding keeper-batsman ever who has failed to deliver or some of the stories about him are exaggerated. Yesterday Dhoni missed a stumping and got credited with a catch which was a few inches from the bat. These things happen. My feeling is that a miss per match is probably normal. After all they keep to over 1000 balls a match. Ananth: ]]

  • Sudarshan P.N. on September 4, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    Hi Ananth, one other thought. Would it be worthwhile to measure the batting prowess of the wicket-keepers in comparison to the peer batsmen's performance of that era while toting up their total value. For example 40s was a good average for a batsman in the 70s/80s, while today 50s would be the equivalent barometer. [[ I have already done the peer comparisons during 2010, whosoever wicket-keepers qualified would have found the place in that analysis. I will do the same sometime now again later and at least the top 10 keepers would qualify. Ananth: ]]

  • Dr. talha on September 4, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Ananth you missed kamran akmal's inns which he played against india in 2006, in karachi. Pakistan were 39 for 6. Irfan pathan got a hatrick of the first 3 balls of the match.Kamran came in and got a magnificant hundred, taking pak beyond 200 and eventually pak won that match, thanks to Asif's terrific bowling. [[ I have no doubt missed this innings. One, it is upto the readers to add such innings. I had limited my list to 12 and some innings are likely to miss out. Second, you missed Ezaz's excellent comment on the same innings and my response. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on September 4, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    Congrats on another super effort and an allround great article. It is good to see your emphasis on Runs per Test and dismissals per Test. This illustrates a more accurate measurement for a players value. Actually even though it may be a more inconvenient task I think Wickets,Runs and catches per inning may be even more accurate. [[ I am a great fan of Test as a unit to take care of the ups and downs over 5 days than 5 minutes. Let the pleyers be given the chance to redeem themselves in the second innings. Ananth: ]] Suggestion: I believe a 5 Test series is the ultimate test of a cricketers stamina. Would you consider prorating a player's expected performance based on his RPT,WPT and CPT over a 5 test series? [[ When do we ever get to see a 5-Test series nowadays. Ananth: ]]

  • dale on September 4, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    It is interesting to note that the deliveries split has revealed the make up of the various bowling attacks in no uncertain terms. The Australian bowling split is remarkably similar during the Healy/Gilchrist eras and almost as similar for the Marsh/Haddin bowling attacks. Langley kept to the most balanced Australian attack during the first half of the fifties(51-56). This attack featured pace -Lindwall,Miller,Johnston and spin - Johnson and Benaud. The value of the keepers' batting was not taken seriously in Australia until they ran out of all rounders with the retirement of Davidson,Benaud and MacKay in the early sixties . By 1970 Marsh had become the first Australian keeper who was a dependable batsman. He went on to record the first century by an Australian keeper. Gilchrist is in many ways the perfection of Rodney Marsh. Both lefthanders,both super aggressive batsmen and both excellent keepers.However Gilchrist is by far the best allround and most valuable wicketkeeper of all. [[ There are times when someone asks for something nice and then disappears. RV asked for the bowler type split. I hope he does not disappear. That is an excellent table and reveals so much about the balance of attacks. You have already mentioned about the Australian attacks. Look at the way the Indian bowling attacks have changed from 78% spin to almost 50-50 nowadays. And oldfield and Evans have kept throughout their careers to very well balanced attacks. A treasure-house of information. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 4, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    I saw an intesresting discussion on the MVP of all time. The six contenders were well chosen and player 5 did seem to have an edge amongst the modern greats. I am already waiting for your promised article. But looking at your condition for doing the MVP article, I feel that the wait can be for 3-4 years. [[ I am ready to relax that condition to the extent that I am ready to do the analysis when either of the two current giants retires. Anyhow, by that time the other would have entered the plateau at the top. Ananth: ]] How much does longevity matter? Yes there is a difference between one who scores 2000-3000 runs and another who scores 7000-8000. But beyond a certain point there should be no distinction. Gavaskar had a long enough career to get full credit for longevity. Tendulkar having scored 15000 runs crossed that barrier long back. But what difference does it make to his standing as a cricketer if he continues for 2-3 more years @50 avg. I feel it should not make him a lesser or greater batsman. Your criteria for longevity should have a barrier of around 15 years / 10000 runs / 500 wickets. Beyond this it really does not matter. [[ Excellent point. I entered my response to the previous paragraph without reading this one and I seem to have echoed your thoughts. Ananth: ]] Basically we need not wait for MVP article.

  • Tom on September 4, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    Another very interesting article Ananth; thanks! I like the new format which makes things much easier to read, too.

    It's interesting to see the stats for Evans and Ames in particular as they enjoy legendary status among English cricketing intelligentsia, but it seems that in statistical terms they didn't measure up so well. Perhaps it's because of the success of the teams they played in that they're remembered so fondly.

    From the heart, I would rate Flower as the best keeper-batsman of the modern era, simply because the calibre of the team he played in was much lower than that of Gilchrist or Boucher, so there was much more pressure on him. However, that is obviously very much a "gut feeling" and your ratings above have been calculated more objectively. [[ Tom, let us not forget that Flower is even now third. A weighted valuations of both keeping and batting efforts to the teams might see him moving comfortably into second place at least. Ananth: ]] I do wonder whether the weight given to batting in the ratings counts unfairly against early keepers who were not expected to bat particularly well, but there are always similar pitfalls when trying to compare across eras.

  • Richard on September 3, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    Just a footnote on Les Ames - the record for most byes conceded in an innings is 37, but this happened when Ames was injured and Frank Woolley deputised for him. In the first innnings Australia scored 700 and Ames conceded four byes! I guess it would be a huge amount of work to filter out the rare occasions when the designated keeper wasn't actually behind the stumps. [[ Richard, it was only your specific knowledge that this information sees the light of day. These are not recorded anywhere. Even then I cannot do anything which is not processable (I hope there is a word like this!!!). Let us just add the footnotes. Ananth: ]]

  • Chris on September 3, 2012, 20:23 GMT

    First of all, nice analysis of the data available, always an interesting read with you. But I guess that unfortunately unmeasured stat of missed chances and the effect of those missed chances means that analysis of keepers will never quite be 'complete'? [[ THis is one area where the numbers-based articles will only tell half (okay, I am being unfair, 75% of) the story. The rest is subjective, based on invaluable personal observations and very necessary. In these articles instead of finding fault with the absence of such nuances, what is essential is to see what it reveals. As far as I am concerned this article reveals a few things. 1. If at all it was needed, the confirmation of Gilchrist as one of the all-time great match-winners. So much so, Som has rightly laid the foundation for Gilchrist to be a serious candidate for the MVP of all time. 2. I repeat again. Holding no brief over anything unsavoury, the value of Kamran Akmal to the Pakistani team. 3. The number of top quality match-winning and match-saving batting efforts by keepers. I even underestimated this. Many of the performances unearthed by readers could replace the ones I have highlighted. And if the readers download and study the exhaustive Excel sheets they would unearth many things which might have been overlooked by me. Ananth: ]]

  • Ananth on September 3, 2012, 17:40 GMT

    New Table added: RV had asked for the wicket-keeper deliveries to be split between pace and spin. It is a very valid suggestion and I have completed the work and added the table at the end of the article. I have also updated the Excel sheet with this table. Ananth

  • keyur on September 3, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    Very good article but one problem. You have rewarded the wicketkeepers who have opened but not made any discrimination between a keeper batting at no. 3-4 and another batting at no.6-7. Wouldnt some system grading runs scored based on the position scored at be better? Say 1.2 marks for opening, 1.1 @ no 3, 1 @ no 4, 0.9 @ no 5...(points are random, you can device your own system) [[ There is a world of difference between opening and batting anywhere else. Ananth: ]]

  • Raghav Bihani on September 3, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    Excellent article Ananth. Really comprehensive and you have done what you could with numbers. Beyond that it is highly subjective and everyone has his own view. I feel that Healy / Boucher were the best behind the stumps in modern times followed closely by Gilchrist. [[ On pure keeping ability I would take Prasanna Jayawardene into this group. Ananth: ]] Many keepers have contributed over the years with the bat, but none have been as destructive as Gilchrist. He averaged around 60 with the bat at one point of time but then tapered off by his high standards. In ODIs, (where more matches are meaningless than meaningful) he performed in key matches like all WC finals.

    In test matches, he failed when Aus got off to good start and he went after quick runs. But when they needed him he was there to bail him out. After getting Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Martyn etc. you thought it was game over and out came Gilchrist to maul the bowling. He gave freedom to top 6 to play naturally wihtout fear. Even if you fail I am there. This assurance was his biggest contribution.

  • Ejaz on September 3, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Thanks Ananth for writing a very good, well written and researched article. Giving weight to different parameters is highly subjective and the most difficult as well. We can always argue to improve but in my view you have done a very good job.

    As far as Best innings by a WK is concern, My best is 133 by Kamran Akmal in Karachi Test (http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakvind/engine/current/match/234783.html).

    Context: Irfan Pathan becomes the first person to do a Hat-trick in first over. Pakistan collapse to 39/6 then Kamrn comes at number 8 and make a century. [[ It was 113 but who cares. Nearly as good as the Mohalli one. The only pulling down point is the margin of victory. Imagine Pakistan were 39 for 6 before lunch on first day and then win by 341 runs. But a truly great innings indeed. Ananth: ]] I think Kamran's position among best keepers is justified, actually people give too much weight to his untidy work during last couple of years. Initially he was very good behind the stumps.

  • Kannan on September 3, 2012, 16:32 GMT

    Amazing article, Ananth. I can see that you have put in a lot of effort. Kudos !

    Like everyone else I'm stunned to see Akmal's place in the standing. But stats are stats.

    I'm wondering about a few situations a wicketkeeper's dismissal would have been more valuable to the team rather than keeper stats. But these may have loop holes as well.

    1. Dismissals against last two ranked teams of regular test playing nations at their time vs the top ranked teams. 2. Dismissals in match ending in a result or a close draw or tie vs dismissals in dull draws. 3. Like many others have said - fast vs spin. 4. No of MOMs or MOSs. [[ All these do not really add to the evaluation of a wicket-keeper's value. MOM/MOS are subjective decisions of one or two person(s), often with limited analytical abilities. As recently as last week, the MOM award was given to Jamshed when it should really have gone to Saeed Ajmal: 4 for 32 including Warner, Hussey, Hussey and Maxwell. Myopic views. Ananth: ]]

  • Allan Scott Schoenherr on September 3, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    On the Boucher numbers I read this earlier today on the latest ESPNcricinfo XI feature:

    "When Mark Boucher was forced to announce his retirement after an untimely eye injury earlier this year, several people (me included) pointed out that he was stuck on 999 international dismissals - 555 in Tests and 444 in limited-overs matches (including one catch in the field). But ... Boucher also took a Test wicket (Dwayne Bravo in Antigua in 2005, which reduced West Indies to the depths of 747 all out), so he could be said to have finished on a round thousand." [[ Shall we say a "not-so-round" thousand. Ananth: ]] Great article Ananth, thanks for putting it all together. I have just one minor gripe - in the table of runs scored you mention that Dhoni may catch Gilchrist and that McCullum may add a few to his score. These are both statements that I agree with but I feel there is room to mention Prior also, bearing in mind he has just been named in the ICC Team of the Year, it's obvious he will also move up the table before the end of his career. [[ Oversight and pointed out by my editor friend, Milind. Have since corrected. Ananth: ]]

  • Giri on September 3, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    Sad part is one name missing and will remain missed Sadanand Vishwanath. I always felt he had more talent than any other I ever saw at that era as keeper and even batsman and with even future as captain. What ever one says Gilchrist stands head and shoulders above every one. But one unsung hero who only kept ODI and forced to but who in my spectrum for pure hard work takes number one spot is Rahul Dravid. Some day please do a overall value index catches, batting, captaincy, assisting captains, winning contributions, saving contributions etc as weighted index against losing contributions to see really is Dravid and Kallis and Chanderpaul and Steve Waugh as good as I think and any day as good as Don or Lara or Sachin [[ Will do. As I have mentioned in a response to Som, after the end of careers of SRt and Kallis. Ananth: ]]

  • Brian Cummins on September 3, 2012, 14:46 GMT

    This is always a contentious, and very interesting, topic. I'm a great believer in "pure" wicketkeeping as a specialist position, not just a batsman who can field with gloves on. I recall when Australia played in England a few years ago, at Old Trafford I think. They needed about 18 runs to avoid the follow on,with only a couple of wickets left, when the iron-gloved oaf Geraint Jones missed a very simple stumping to get rid of Shane Warne. They got a draw. Who knows what might have happened if a proper wicketkeper had been there? Of course next time Jones got 30 or 40 runs, everyone agreed that he had merited his selection. I don't think so. [[ I am with you all the way. Certainly in Tests teams should play their best keeper. You need to capture 20 wickets and keepers cannot even afford to drop one chance per match. Limited over matches are different. McCullum could afford to drop a catch if he scores a quick 70-80. In some cases the dropped catch might even prove a blessing in disguise if the slower scoring / tiring batsman is kept on field. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on September 3, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Ananth - Apologize for a small typo. I intended to write 3 & 5 and got it 3 & 6. (as you can see through the last para where I support multi faceted above avg contributions). And as you brought out through an equivalence calculation, its 5 who tops 4 and 6. So even if we keep 1 & 2 out of the race, its a battle between 3 and 5. And 3 might 'overtake' at the last turn (loved the way you put it). And if such be the case (3 triumphs over 4,5,6); can't we take a leap of faith and then see if 3 would have triumphed over at least 2 or 1? [[ Huge Beamonesque leap indeed it would be. But probably needs to be done. Ananth: ]] Remember here I am putting forward the case for the 'most valuable player', and not 'the greatest cricketing skill demonstrated' - which DGB is by a distance. And when we compare Gilli's attitude to most others from his era, he is miles ahead. Much appreciated though, Gilli is still way under appreciated. [[ I think I should do this article, the MVP one, after both SRT and Kallis retire. Ananth: ]]

  • Amit on September 3, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    I think, roll of wicketkeeper is changed over the period. Before WW2, it is almost purely on there wicket keeping skills but now a days batting is having equal importance. In case of weaker teams batting sometimes have more weitage. So can you try & add following indices on your analysis

    1) runs per test / innings in different periods of play, like before WW1, between WW1 & WW2, after WW2 to 80's, 80's to 2000, 21st century etc. [[ This has been done, for all players, earlier. Pl refer to the archives. Ananth: ]] 2) weitage of keeper in a team he plays. whether he is punching below or above average? [[ This is not easy since many keepers play across time periods. Short of producing these numbers on a strict peer comparison basis for each keeper's career, it would be difficlt. Ananth: ]] 3) bowling quality index of peers, ground conditions (home/ away or pitches assisting fast bowlers or spinners etc.) [[ Why would this matetr in an article on keepers. Batting is only secondary: 22.5% weightage as against 77.5%. Ananth: ]] I feel wk has advantage in catches if he is playing with good fast bowling peers & has advantage in stumping if he is playing with good spinner peers. [[ Tomorrow, I am going to post a new table on the types of bowlers the keepers kept to. Ananth: ]]

  • Som on September 3, 2012, 12:12 GMT

    Excellent article Ananth. One a lot of us were waiting for a long time. K Akmal was a revelation. Now let us bring into perspective the value of some holistic career achievements (statistically) among contenders of GOAT(the Federeresque measure).

    Player 1 - 6996 TRuns@99.94, 32 Ct Player 2 - 8032 TRuns@57.78, 235 TWkts, 34.03 TBwAvg, 109 Ct Player 3 - 5570 TRuns@47.6 avg and 81.9 SR, 907 CtSt, 9619 ODIRuns@35.9 and 96.9 SR Player 4 - 800 TWkts@22.72, 534 ODIWkts@23.08, 202 Ct Player 5 - 12641 TRuns@56.94, 11498 ODIRuns@45.26, 280 TWkts@32.63, 270 TWkts@31.69, 312 Ct Player 6 - 15489 TRuns@55.31, 18426 ODIRuns@44.83, 200 TotalWkts@47.5, 253 Ct

    Isn't it a toss up between player 3 & 6 for the most valuable player(of all time). One can argue that someone who is skilled in one facet can take it to a level where the difference can be expanded to unimaginable levels. But doing an above average job in multiple areas is, if not tougher, at least as tough. Hats off Gilchrist!! [[ My dear friend, Som, you have not caught me. I think it is not that clear-cut case. You are basically excluding Player 1 and Player 2 despite the fact that they had no opportunity to play in multiple formats. That itself is dicey. And why and how should Players 4 and 5 be ever excluded. In reality, if you add the equalized numbers for 4, 5 and 6, player 6 does not come in as the leader at all. Player 4: 41270 (Tw-30, Ow-25, Ct-10) Player 5: 42409 Player 6: 41645 Finally I think this is a race where the Player 3, is trying to overtake all others in the last turn and may very well come through at the top even though the total points may be less. Ananth: ]]

  • Waspsting on September 3, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    "Amazed to see the exalted position which Kamran Akmal has reached. Especially because in teh subcontinent, catches behind the wicket must be rarer than in Oz/Eng/WI/SA/NZ etc"

    ... and how many chances he put down, too.

    I am actually, COMPLETELY stunned by Kamran's high standing on keeping stats.

    i imagine if he'd taken all the chances that came to him, he'd be top of the tree.

    Says more about Pak bowling than him, i think. (I didn't realize Pak bowling was THIS GOOD)!

    Akmal's standing as keeper is the most eye catching thing on first glance. Will get back after looking at the rest. [[ Unfortunately we have all been conditioned by the Sydney Test and a few other situations. We have completely forgotten that that guy has crossed 200 victims and 2500 runs in just over 50 Tests. He has half a dismissal per Test more than Dhoni and just below Dhoni in batting. Holding no brief to anything unsavoury, let us not fail to recognize the top-level contributions. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on September 3, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    "I understand what you say. But what is it likely to show. That Gilchrist's 4.xx is 102.5% of his team's catching index and Boucher's is 101.5%. Does that make Gilchrist the marginally better keeper."

    Thanks for your reply Ananth. Yes, on the face of it the data may not 'prove' much. But then again, you can never tell until you are sorting through the finished figures - the statisticians dilemma! Would be a difficult job though I agree, and arguably not worth it - especially not for this initial study into keepers. However, if you felt the strong urge to build on this and decided to go 'the whole hog', then it might be something to be attempted, along with other things like weighting the batting averages, and weighting the byes conceded. I think there was already an article on here a few years ago that weighted the byes by host country and by era. I'll have a look :) [[ Probably worth looking at this. Will start work when I can. Also the split between keeping for pace bowlers and spinners, to start with. That is easier and I can post a table quickly. Ananth: ]]

  • Yash Rungta on September 3, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    You're correct that Boucher was the keeper in all 147 Test Matches that he played. However, in one ODI, De Villiers kept and Boucher played as a specialist batsman. See: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/439151.html

    He also caught Darren Bravo Superbly in the above match.

  • Ranga on September 3, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    Hi Ananth - Tribute to the Unsung heroes - This has been the theme of the last two articles from you! If it was VVS last time, this time it is about a tribe which has to be the fittest of the lot in a test match!

    Reg K.Akmal - I do see that a lot of readers are irked at the ones he missed than the ones he caught (half full/half empty??). It would be as futile to calculate the misses (even if they were available) - like how a futile it would be to start calculating how many runs a batsman "could have" scored by counting the balls he left alone/a single/2/3 refused, etc. A catch taken is a catch taken. Even if Akmal drops 7 catches and pouches 3 an innings, statistically, it would still be better than 2 catches out of 2. And he still averages close to 4 ct/test, despite dropping many! I dont see many who have done that either!! Whether its a tribute to Pak bowlers or whatever, he still is a decent keeper/bat if he chooses to apply himself!

  • Faridoon on September 3, 2012, 8:04 GMT

    Great work to put together this analysis. It is quite evident that you put a lot of meticulous effort into it.

    There's only one thing I would change. In the overall wicket-keeper ratings (section 10), I would not have included the 'Top order dismissals' as a criteria. A keeper has to take the catch or make the stumping regardless of whether the batsman in question is top or lower order player.

    The bowler is the one taxed with job of working harder to create an opportunity against a top order batsman. I fully agree that keepers have to 'gauge the bounce and stand in the correct position and posture'. I'm just saying that a keeper has to apply that same level of skill for all types of batsmen. [[ I am not saying that a keeper has to take extra trouble to catch a top order batsman. Just that that catch would be more valuable to the team than the catch off a lower order batsman. That is all. It is the same as the top order wickets measure when analysing bowlers. Ananth: ]]

  • Pavan on September 3, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    Boucher taking one catch as a fielder was mentioned by S.Rajesh in his article in cricinfo. http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-south-africa-2012/content/story/571858.html.match Id 'http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/439151.html'

    To add to the list of excellent keeper innings..one by Moin Khan 1999 Asian test Championship, 70 after coming in at 26/6 to take Pakistan to 185

  • adil on September 3, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    why not to right about the most failures by a wicket keeper behind stumps i.e. dropping catches and missinbg stump out chances. K. akmal will certainly top the list. [[ If you (or anyone) has any information on these numbers pl let me know. Ananth: ]]

  • Sudarshan P.N. on September 3, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    Good work Ananth, as usual. Perhaps you would like to consider the innings by Dujon against India on a minefiled of a pitch in Ahmedabad in 1983.....I think he missed the century by a few runs though. [[ Outstanding innings of 98, not that it matters at all. Came in at 134 for 5 and took the score to 281. Probably a match-winning innings. This match was famous for Kapil's 9 wicket haul in a losing cause. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 3, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/439151.html This was the match in which Boucher took his only catch as a fielder. [[ Oh that was in an ODI match. I have just added the CSt for players in ODI matches to the Test dismissals to do the last table. No special checking has been done whether they played as keepers or not. But this is an article on Test wicket-keepers. Ananth: ]] Coming to Gilchrist's innings in Mumbai.Had it not been for that innings we probably might have won that match.I know jumping a the gun here but it is probably to bad to think that India batting would have failed twice in a Match had it not been for the Pressure of being 173 runs behind. So this innings i would a special one because it went on to shape a Once in a Lifetime Series. I might me hallucinating but who knows it might have turned out like that.

  • Yash Rungta on September 3, 2012, 4:58 GMT

    Hey Ananth,

    Just a minor correction. I think Boucher had 998 dismissals as keeper and 1 as a fielder. [[ Yash This, I think, is splitting hairs. Boucher has played 147 matches and in ALL OF THOSE, he has been listed as wicket-keeper. It is possible that he might have taken a catch in a non-wk position but that information is not available anywhere. Will you let me know in which match. Let me see the match scorecard. Anyhow 999 C/St, that is certain. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    Also, Jack Russell's 128* Manchester 4th test 1989.Didn't save test, but one of the VERY few bright spots for Eng in one of the most depressing series defeats for them I ever witnessed. The reason I praise this so highly, is that during 1st test, he was cluless and helpless v bouncer and looked every inch a number 9 who could time the ball nicely v ordinary bowling, like Chris Read when first selected for tests.Showing astonishing dedication and professionalism, insisted in Lords nets that tennagers threw balls at his head for hours so he could improve,which almost all others would have found humiliating to do.Astonishing transformation, the biggest immediate one I have ever seen, with a sound 64, looking a real no.7 for those days.Continued with 3rd test 42, he and Botham (46) responsibly avoiding follow on. Then this admirable century to complete a remarkable turnaround in proficiency double-quick. He looked far better and polished in both departments than Ian Healy did in fact... [[ Your varied responses on the keeper-innings strengthens my belief that the keepers, over the years, have played many remarkable innings. One reason why a sub-30 RpT keeper today seems like a liability. And continuing, bowlers who cannot bat, barring the Kiwi legend, are frowned upon. And on a current note, the absence of DRS in Indian Test matches is continuing to be terrible. If India wins this Test narrowly, quite a likely scenario, the absence of DRS to counter the very poor Gould decision will come to haunt India. Not that the Indian board or followers, barring some, care a hoot. And continuing on this, what about Wk-catches which are not off the bat. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    ..furious after angry criticism of his infamous cavalier declaration in previous test- from levelling the series in the same desperate circumstances, with the hopeless no.11 Alan Jones, as Croft and Fraser denied Donald in 1998. Romesh Kaluwitharana's remarkable 132* on debut Columbo 1992, a prelude to his later pinch hitting, to demoralise Aus and set up a simple victory- until the struggling youngster, one Shane Warne esq, was chucked the ball in desperation and gave it a rip to clean up with a spell of 3/0- another prelude! I will think of some more of top of my head, but also thanks for yr very measured and fair responses to my earlier observations.

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    Anyway, despite my earlier comments, allrounders are easily my favourite cricketers. So here are some thoughts about top innings by keepers:- Gilchrist- of course!- has so many to chose from, further illustrating why I believe him to be the 3rd 'Supercricketer' (after Bradman and Sobers, who also totally tore up the scripts in batting and bat/ball allrounders respectively). But let us also not forget his 212 v SA which became fastest test 200 (barring Astle's spree when the drop in pitch in NZ flattened out into a featherbed, exciting tho that innings was, completely panicking England).Plus his 152 in the 1st test in 2001 when England's Ashes hopes were crushed immediately. Apart from that Colossus- 164 by Stewart v SA, Donald et al (at no.4)to save Manchester 1998 test and keep series alive-Eng duly levelled series later. He played them all so effortlessly... Not a century, but Knott's nailbiting 73* Georgetown 1968 to prevent a one man show from Sobers (152, 95* and 6wkts) TBC

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    ...that the sport has ever seen. Bat/ball allrounders can fail with one suit but make up with other- gloved allrounders CANNOT fail with the gloves at any time, whether they are making runs or not. As for captaining too! The mind boggles at the concentration required... [[ Del, 1. I just missed Taylor in my comment in reponse to Victor. Redressed. 2. What are Downton's batting numbers. 26 RpT. Taylor, at 20, is not too far behind. 3. I agee with most of your points on the Keepers vs Keeper-allrounders. This is not an article on the best keepers. In my opinion there is no OBJECTIVE way to do that. The only way for that is to have a handle on number of chances offered, taken and dropped. This will also take care of a predominantly-spin situation where not many chances would be available. And no one has that information. 4. Jones/McCullum/Haddin are invaluable by today's standards but will not be in anybody's top-10 keepers list. Ananth: ]]

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 3:29 GMT

    ...as batsmen when they got their turn eventually. Mind you, since Knott started contributing outstandingly to saving matches in the late 60's, the likes of Marsh, Engineer and Kirmani did come to the fore. My point here is that of course the likes of ordinary keepers like Geraint Jones and McCullum are gonna be way out ahead of greats like evans, Oldfield and Taylor on this list as batting was not taken into consideration in those days if the best keeper available couldn't bat- the likes of Knott, let alone Ames, were regarded as bonuses to their side because they could but the mantra was always 'pick best keeper'. All I'm saying is that Jones for example is better allrounder than Evans, but NO WAY would anyone ever place him higher in list of 'Test Keepers', merely Test Keeper-Allrounders. Sorry to labour the point a bit, but at least yr title does show much it is inconceivable in the modern era that a keeper cannot bat, and that the keeping allrounder has easily the hardest job TBC

  • delmeister on September 3, 2012, 3:05 GMT

    Ananth- Great unstinting efforts again as always, and I hope to make more comments when have more time. Just a quick sugestion- the article could really be more accurately called WktK Allrounders rather than WktK,as runs and captaincy contributions have such significant weightage on here. As you well know, the desire for prolific batting in keepers has become non-negociable since sharp rise of the batsman/keeper in the mid/late 90's, and initially took off since Dujon batted at 6(initially)in mid 80's and Stewart finally emulated that in early 90's (after Aus shelved efforts with Wayne Phillips). Dujon's value to WI meant large increase in no.of keepers who could bat 7 in 80's (as couldn't emulate Dooj at 6)like Ian Smith- England for instance picked an ordinary cricketer (byes stats notwithstanding) in Downton as he could bat grittily instead of continuing with alltime great like Bob Taylor, or selecting talented youngsters Russell or Steve Rhodes (ironically, both surpassed him TBC

  • Victor on September 3, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    Ananth,

    Great article, the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up! Just have one entry to point out to you-Dhoni's Avg RpT is 53.46 , but it isn't in the entries in Table 7. [[ At the end of the Ahd Test Dhoni's RpT was 52.7, just below Prior's 52.9. Ananth: ]] Have to agree with Dinesh about the subjectivity that creeps in when one is analysing keepers from past and present generations, which makes this article even more creditable. [[ The best keeper ever: Oldfield or Knott or Strudwick or Tallon or Taylor??? whoever. But the most valuable keeper, without any doubt, Gilchrist. That is what this article proves: not that there was any doubt. Ananth: ]] Loved the piece on Laxman as well-fitting tribute to the man and how sometimes bare stats dont tell the full story.

  • Sifter on September 2, 2012, 21:45 GMT

    The other factor I thought of was this: I think dismissals per match is too dependent on the bowlers that the keeper kept to. eg. any decent WK probably would have got 4 dismissals per match keeping to the Aussie attack of 10 years ago, it's just that Gilchrist was the lucky man at the time. That's deliberately selling AG short to make a point - I'm a huge fan of Gilchrist, in particular his underrated keeping. My broader point is: why not try to make an 'expected dismissals per match' estimate, based on the bowlers who played with that keeper? Because I feel the keeper is just at the end of the bowling production line. eg. how could a Pakistan keeper get many dismissals when Wasim and Waqar hit the stumps or pads so often? We could see how often each bowler got a caught behind or stumping, see how many overs they bowled when a particular keeper was playing and conjure a number - an expected number of dismissals. [[ Intriguing and complex idea. I am not even sure how this can de done. The bowlers who bowled in the match means a weighted calculation. Immediately readers would tak about bowlers whose pattern changed as their career progressed. Then that means CTD figures. And the first slip catches are almost like wk-catches. Should these be included. On top of that the slip catches data is not available for many matches. I understand what you say. But what is it likely to show. That Gilchrist's 4.xx is 102.5% of his team's catching index and Boucher's is 101.5%. Does that make Gilchrist the marginally better keeper. I have all along mentioned that this is an analysis on the keeper's contributions to the team. As keeper-batsmen-captains. I do not know and do not want to speculate on those dark Tests. But this article proves that Kamran Akmal's value to his team was and is immense. And Gilchrist's, and Flower's and so on. But I repeat it is a thought-provoking idea.Let me see what can be done, on a longer term. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on September 2, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    I wonder if stumpings could be weighted a bit more than catches. For starters they are usually a little more difficult (speaking as a sunday afternoon wicket keeper here :)), they are rarer, and it might also have the effect of helping those guys who stood up to the stumps more - the 'pure' keepers eg. Oldfield, Evans, Ames etc. I'm guessing guys who stood up to the stumps more concede more byes per match too. eg. how many overs of spin did Downton or Richardson or Dujon have to keep to? Not many [[ I think both catches and stumping should be given the same importance. The fact that stumping is possibly a dying art should not make it more valuable. If anything, a stumping is marginally more of a bowler dismissal than a keeper dismissal. Ananth: ]]

  • Pawan Mathur on September 2, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    Ananth, 1)Ever since you gave indications of analysis of keepers, i was waiting for Bert Oldfied 52 stumping record to be put in its due perspective (i reckon it is an amazing record but not celebrated euphoricallly like runs/wickets) and the article did not disappoint me. In my opinion that record is here to stay for some time more. 2) When cricinfo selected its country all time XI, the selction of WI keeper was done purely on subjective terms. Would you prefer Jackie Hendricks to Garry Alexander or a Dujon [[ If we have the luxury of 6 top-flight batsmen, you can then select the best keeper rather than the best keeper-batsman. Ananth: ]] 3)Among the list of greatest innigs by wicketkeeper, GIlchrist's Mumbai hundred of 2001 deserves a mention(coming at 122/5. he turned the test around). [[ Again the innings goes to the second list. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 2, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    This comment if dedicated to Akmal.

    He is a decent enough batsman no doubt about that.His innings in Mohali was the difference between a 1-1 draw and 2-1 defeat for Pak. His keeping till 2009 was Good to guarantee him a place in the side irrespective of his batting.Then they went to Australia and boy did Akmal emerge.He went from one of the best keepers around to probably the worst there ever was in just a single match.That sydney test will be remembered for generations to come especially on youtube. No one knows what happened so suddenly( errors were creeping in slowly and they exploded in Sydney).He single handedly lost them a Match in world cup against Kiwi'ssays a lot about him and probably finished Akthar's career as well.Thanks to Akmal we witnessed a massacre.

    But your article will remind to all those Naysayers that there live a Kamran Akmal who was among the best keepers going around.

    P.s: Your forgot his best innings.113 counter attacking match changing runs in Karachi 200 [[ Goes in the list of innings not mentioned. I never realized that there were so many good innings played by keepers. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 2, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    Ananth:

    Aah the BCG is back.That graph makes this article even more worthy not that it wouldnt have been without that. Usually Your articles pont out who were better than the rest but this one probably doesnt do that and that is not your fault but the that of the those on which it is based. While trying to pinpoint who is the best in other forms can be done over a period of time but for keepers i think it cant be.Even after you considered almost everything that you could there are still thing that arent considered like te drop catches due to lack of data. Some will say Dujon was good. Some will say Knott was better.People of the current generation will say Gilchrist was GOD like. All in all Keeping is such a tough task(Personal experience) that you have to be at your peak fitness day in and day out give that you have to do around 540/320(wides/no balls) sit-ups a day and to find that people have played around 100 tests is astonishing.I take my Hat off to those guys. [[ A nice comment highlighting my dilemma. However the purpose was to basically highlight whatever data I could analyze regarding wicket keepers. The Ratings exercise should be taken as a pointer to the value to the team team rather than the best keeper. The keepers deserve a special word of appreciation because their task is the toughest one on field. Ananth: ]]

  • RV on September 2, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Engineer was an excellent keeper. We need to remember that he kept to an unusual set of bowlers.

    Most of the wicketkeeper catches come from fast bowlers. Engineer kept to the spinners. That is the reason that his catches per match ratio is low.

    If you could divide this analysis as keeping to fast bowlers and keeping to spinners, I am sure that your opinion about Engineer would change. [[ My opinion about Engineer ??? Surely I have not mentioned anywhere that I had a low opinion about Engineer. Far from that. Why put words on to my keyboard. I only mentioned that Engineer's CSt/Match was quite low and wondered why. And have I not mentioned about his opening batting runs. Pl look at the Engineer row to see what he gets under this category. Ananth: ]]

  • Aaron on September 2, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Normally I'm a fan of your articles and I know that you've done everything you can with the statistics available, however in my opinion the only thing that this article tells us is that statistics are of little use with wicketkeepers. A potential list of the greatest wicketkeepers would probably come up with the names Gilchrist, Knott, Marsh, Healy, Engineer, Dujon, Boucher and a few others. Names like Kamran Akmal, McCullum and Haddin are seriously flattered here by their statistics. Without information about the number of drops, pace/spin preferences, skills on raging turners etc I think this table is of little use. [[ What about top order wickets, byes/match, runs scored as opener, the additional duties as captain, % of team dismissals, great Test innings played by keepers et al. Surely these are not available anywhere in a single table. Why pine for information which is NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE. And all what you say are subjective in nature. There have been many articles written by historians in this subjective vein. Finally, Aaron, catches are catches and runs are runs. A beautiful catch and ugly catch go as the same on the scorecards. A tough catch and an easy catch are represented the same way. And let me take a bet. No one in the world can tell you how many catches were missed by anyone before 2000. Some one could, for the recent Tests. Even that I am doubtful. Ananth: ]]

  • Ram on September 2, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    Nice one, Anantha. Thank you.

    I have always imagined Kamran Akmal as a lousy wkt keeper who drops more catches than he catches. His name sometimes surfaced in match fixing contexts (esp during the London trial), and it did not help creating an alternate impression. But this article throws light from a different perspective. 44% of team dismissals is something to be proud of.

    I am also surprised to note that Kirmani lags way behind the leaders. Always had fond memories of him being a class wicket keeper.This may be because he played a pivotal role in India's WC win in 1983. [[ Both are valid points. But I am not going to be judgemental. Akmal's batting, especially against India, was sensational. Ananth: ]]

  • Ali Taha on September 2, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    This is something really ironical, Kamran Akmal rated at #4 in all time wicketkeeper ratings! :\ [[ I have only looked at the numbers, not anything behind the scenes. That is for you guys. Ananth: ]]

  • charith on September 2, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    wonderful work Ananth. I was really disappointed to see Jayawardhane in the bottom left of the table because he has being awesome behind the stumps for SL for a long period of time. Akmal being considered as a top flier by your analysis, may be your analysis is favoring the batting side of keeping a little too much. [[ Quite disappointed to see such a comment. There is no doubt Prasanna is an excellent keeper, as were many others who are low down in the list. Before coming with the comment you should have worked out yourself the relative weights given for Keeping and Batting. It is 77.5-22.5. Just because PJ is not ranked high, how can 22.5% become too much. Then we could ignore the batting. Even then I am not sure whether PJ will benefit. Ananth: ]]

  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 2, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Great work. TO make it easier for reading, would suggest putting the benchmark number in the heading itself. As an instance, instead of "Runs per Test", make it "Runs Per Test (benchmark 38.7 runs) etc. so that the context is immediate.

    Amazed to see the exalted position which Kamran Akmal has reached. Especially because in teh subcontinent, catches behind the wicket must be rarer than in Oz/Eng/WI/SA/NZ etc.

    It may be useful to add another metric - wicket keeper dismissals / test as % of total dismissals per test for his team. [[ Isn't this already there. Okay not on a CSt/match basis but on a total CSt basis. But both are same since the refrence number of Tests is the same. Ananth: ]] Also, if there is some way to isolate slip catches - and see if the wicketkeeper has outperformed other WKs on own/slip catches metric. If subcontinent results in fewer catches behind the wicket, slips would also have suffered. [[ No chance. Only for the past few years. That too I do not have the data. Ananth: ]]

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  • Gerry_the_Merry on September 2, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Great work. TO make it easier for reading, would suggest putting the benchmark number in the heading itself. As an instance, instead of "Runs per Test", make it "Runs Per Test (benchmark 38.7 runs) etc. so that the context is immediate.

    Amazed to see the exalted position which Kamran Akmal has reached. Especially because in teh subcontinent, catches behind the wicket must be rarer than in Oz/Eng/WI/SA/NZ etc.

    It may be useful to add another metric - wicket keeper dismissals / test as % of total dismissals per test for his team. [[ Isn't this already there. Okay not on a CSt/match basis but on a total CSt basis. But both are same since the refrence number of Tests is the same. Ananth: ]] Also, if there is some way to isolate slip catches - and see if the wicketkeeper has outperformed other WKs on own/slip catches metric. If subcontinent results in fewer catches behind the wicket, slips would also have suffered. [[ No chance. Only for the past few years. That too I do not have the data. Ananth: ]]

  • charith on September 2, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    wonderful work Ananth. I was really disappointed to see Jayawardhane in the bottom left of the table because he has being awesome behind the stumps for SL for a long period of time. Akmal being considered as a top flier by your analysis, may be your analysis is favoring the batting side of keeping a little too much. [[ Quite disappointed to see such a comment. There is no doubt Prasanna is an excellent keeper, as were many others who are low down in the list. Before coming with the comment you should have worked out yourself the relative weights given for Keeping and Batting. It is 77.5-22.5. Just because PJ is not ranked high, how can 22.5% become too much. Then we could ignore the batting. Even then I am not sure whether PJ will benefit. Ananth: ]]

  • Ali Taha on September 2, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    This is something really ironical, Kamran Akmal rated at #4 in all time wicketkeeper ratings! :\ [[ I have only looked at the numbers, not anything behind the scenes. That is for you guys. Ananth: ]]

  • Ram on September 2, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    Nice one, Anantha. Thank you.

    I have always imagined Kamran Akmal as a lousy wkt keeper who drops more catches than he catches. His name sometimes surfaced in match fixing contexts (esp during the London trial), and it did not help creating an alternate impression. But this article throws light from a different perspective. 44% of team dismissals is something to be proud of.

    I am also surprised to note that Kirmani lags way behind the leaders. Always had fond memories of him being a class wicket keeper.This may be because he played a pivotal role in India's WC win in 1983. [[ Both are valid points. But I am not going to be judgemental. Akmal's batting, especially against India, was sensational. Ananth: ]]

  • Aaron on September 2, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Normally I'm a fan of your articles and I know that you've done everything you can with the statistics available, however in my opinion the only thing that this article tells us is that statistics are of little use with wicketkeepers. A potential list of the greatest wicketkeepers would probably come up with the names Gilchrist, Knott, Marsh, Healy, Engineer, Dujon, Boucher and a few others. Names like Kamran Akmal, McCullum and Haddin are seriously flattered here by their statistics. Without information about the number of drops, pace/spin preferences, skills on raging turners etc I think this table is of little use. [[ What about top order wickets, byes/match, runs scored as opener, the additional duties as captain, % of team dismissals, great Test innings played by keepers et al. Surely these are not available anywhere in a single table. Why pine for information which is NOT AVAILABLE ANYWHERE. And all what you say are subjective in nature. There have been many articles written by historians in this subjective vein. Finally, Aaron, catches are catches and runs are runs. A beautiful catch and ugly catch go as the same on the scorecards. A tough catch and an easy catch are represented the same way. And let me take a bet. No one in the world can tell you how many catches were missed by anyone before 2000. Some one could, for the recent Tests. Even that I am doubtful. Ananth: ]]

  • RV on September 2, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Engineer was an excellent keeper. We need to remember that he kept to an unusual set of bowlers.

    Most of the wicketkeeper catches come from fast bowlers. Engineer kept to the spinners. That is the reason that his catches per match ratio is low.

    If you could divide this analysis as keeping to fast bowlers and keeping to spinners, I am sure that your opinion about Engineer would change. [[ My opinion about Engineer ??? Surely I have not mentioned anywhere that I had a low opinion about Engineer. Far from that. Why put words on to my keyboard. I only mentioned that Engineer's CSt/Match was quite low and wondered why. And have I not mentioned about his opening batting runs. Pl look at the Engineer row to see what he gets under this category. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 2, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    Ananth:

    Aah the BCG is back.That graph makes this article even more worthy not that it wouldnt have been without that. Usually Your articles pont out who were better than the rest but this one probably doesnt do that and that is not your fault but the that of the those on which it is based. While trying to pinpoint who is the best in other forms can be done over a period of time but for keepers i think it cant be.Even after you considered almost everything that you could there are still thing that arent considered like te drop catches due to lack of data. Some will say Dujon was good. Some will say Knott was better.People of the current generation will say Gilchrist was GOD like. All in all Keeping is such a tough task(Personal experience) that you have to be at your peak fitness day in and day out give that you have to do around 540/320(wides/no balls) sit-ups a day and to find that people have played around 100 tests is astonishing.I take my Hat off to those guys. [[ A nice comment highlighting my dilemma. However the purpose was to basically highlight whatever data I could analyze regarding wicket keepers. The Ratings exercise should be taken as a pointer to the value to the team team rather than the best keeper. The keepers deserve a special word of appreciation because their task is the toughest one on field. Ananth: ]]

  • Dinesh on September 2, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    This comment if dedicated to Akmal.

    He is a decent enough batsman no doubt about that.His innings in Mohali was the difference between a 1-1 draw and 2-1 defeat for Pak. His keeping till 2009 was Good to guarantee him a place in the side irrespective of his batting.Then they went to Australia and boy did Akmal emerge.He went from one of the best keepers around to probably the worst there ever was in just a single match.That sydney test will be remembered for generations to come especially on youtube. No one knows what happened so suddenly( errors were creeping in slowly and they exploded in Sydney).He single handedly lost them a Match in world cup against Kiwi'ssays a lot about him and probably finished Akthar's career as well.Thanks to Akmal we witnessed a massacre.

    But your article will remind to all those Naysayers that there live a Kamran Akmal who was among the best keepers going around.

    P.s: Your forgot his best innings.113 counter attacking match changing runs in Karachi 200 [[ Goes in the list of innings not mentioned. I never realized that there were so many good innings played by keepers. Ananth: ]]

  • Pawan Mathur on September 2, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    Ananth, 1)Ever since you gave indications of analysis of keepers, i was waiting for Bert Oldfied 52 stumping record to be put in its due perspective (i reckon it is an amazing record but not celebrated euphoricallly like runs/wickets) and the article did not disappoint me. In my opinion that record is here to stay for some time more. 2) When cricinfo selected its country all time XI, the selction of WI keeper was done purely on subjective terms. Would you prefer Jackie Hendricks to Garry Alexander or a Dujon [[ If we have the luxury of 6 top-flight batsmen, you can then select the best keeper rather than the best keeper-batsman. Ananth: ]] 3)Among the list of greatest innigs by wicketkeeper, GIlchrist's Mumbai hundred of 2001 deserves a mention(coming at 122/5. he turned the test around). [[ Again the innings goes to the second list. Ananth: ]]

  • Sifter on September 2, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    I wonder if stumpings could be weighted a bit more than catches. For starters they are usually a little more difficult (speaking as a sunday afternoon wicket keeper here :)), they are rarer, and it might also have the effect of helping those guys who stood up to the stumps more - the 'pure' keepers eg. Oldfield, Evans, Ames etc. I'm guessing guys who stood up to the stumps more concede more byes per match too. eg. how many overs of spin did Downton or Richardson or Dujon have to keep to? Not many [[ I think both catches and stumping should be given the same importance. The fact that stumping is possibly a dying art should not make it more valuable. If anything, a stumping is marginally more of a bowler dismissal than a keeper dismissal. Ananth: ]]