Cricinfo XI

Two stumpers, one pair of gloves

When two wicketkeepers appear for a side in the same game

Sriram Veera

May 31, 2007

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India decided to pick two wicketkeepers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik, for the recent Tests against Bangladesh. It wasn't the first time two stumpers played in the same XI and here Cricinfo casts a glance at the precedents



Will Dinesh Karthik be able to hold his place as a batsman? © Getty Images
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Farokh Engineer & Budhi Kunderan
No rivalry in India had been so intense yet free of rancour, wrote the cricket historian Ramachandra Guha. Both Kunderan and Engineer kept safely, batted aggressively and had a presence behind the stumps. In 1964, when England toured India, an injury to Engineer opened the doors for Kunderan and he made the most of it, ending with a series tally of 525 runs. His keeping, though, wasn't up to scratch and the selectors kept him out of all three Tests against Australia in the same year. Engineer resumed his battle with Kunderan in the 1965 series against New Zealand. Kunderan played in only one Test as an opener, with Engineer performing the role of wicketkeeper.

They played together again in two Tests in England; Engineer kept while Kunderan opened the batting as well as the bowling. Kunderan's chance came again in 1966-67 against West Indies but, despite blasting 79 in the first Test, the selectors felt that his keeping was not up to the mark. His 104 in two hours in a tour game after the second Test wasn't enough and it was Engineer who played in the next Test in Chennai. He silenced the critics and the public outcry against Kunderan's exclusion by cracking 94 before lunch. He went on to score 109 and never looked back thereafter. Kunderan had been left behind.

Jeff Dujon & David Murray
Dujon made his debut as a batsman against Australia in 1981 and watched Murray take nine catches, then a West Indian record. Dujon made 41 and top-scored in the second innings with 43 but Australia ended the West Indies sequence of 15 unbeaten Tests. However, Dujon didn't need to wait too long to don the gloves. Murray got entangled in underlying drug problems and reacted angrily to being dropped for the one-dayers against Australia and was jettisoned as a result. In 1983 he threw in his lot with the West Indies rebel tour of South Africa and received a life ban. Dujon went on to sparkle both in front and behind the stumps.

Alec Stewart & Jack Russell
Stewart made his debut against West Indies in 1990 with Russell donning the wicketkeeping gloves. Looking to achieve the best balance, the selectors soon made Stewart the wicketkeeper. Stewart and Russell kept swapping roles through the '90s with Stewart eventually becoming the No. 1 keeper. Stewart did more than a creditable job, bagging 277 dismissals. The eccentric Russell, an ardent painter and a tea-addict, was better standing up to the spinners and was a dogged fighter with the bat but Stewart had the better of him in the end.

Chandrakant Pandit & Kiran More
Pandit was an aggressive batsman and an efficient wicketkeeper. However, in three of the five Tests he played, he had to give up the wicketkeeping position to More. His only option was to outbat the gutsy More out of the contest but he averaged only 24.42 and couldn't hold his place. His street-smart methods fetched him 36 ODI caps but he again lost out to More, who went on to play 49 Tests and 94 ODIs. More came to be known as a fighter who loved to get under the skin of the batsman, famously leading Javed Miandad to do a jumping imitation of him in the 1992 World Cup. The pinnacle of his career came in 1990 when he was appointed vice-captain for the tour of New Zealand.

Roger Tolchard & Alan Knott
Tolchard, a middle-order batsman and a wicketkeeper, was unfortunate to have played in the same era as Bob Taylor and Knott. He never kept in a Test but Tony Greig took him to India in 1976-77 as a specialist batsman, largely because of his ability to handle spin. He made a defiant, five-and-a-half-hour 67 in his debut innings and with Greig and put on 142 crucial runs to help England to victory for the first time in a Test at Calcutta. Tolchard, like Jimmy Adams would do years later, used his pads extensively to blunt the spinners, so much so that Erapalli Prasanna still relishes how he once got Tolchard stumped in that series.



Though AB de Villiers is a very agile wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher's presence in the team has kept him at point © Getty Images
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AB de Villiers & Mark Boucher
de Villiers made his debut as an opening batsman against England in 2004 and was given the wicketkeeping gloves in the next Test. He shone with a maiden Test half-century, batting at No.7 and helped save the Test. By the fourth Test he returned as a specialist batsman, allowing Boucher to do the wicketkeeping duties. That status-quo has remained and serves as a testament to Boucher's ability both in front and behind the stumps.

Kumar Sangakkara & Romesh Kaluwitharana
Sangakkara's arrival hastened the end of Kaluwitharana. A bit ragged as a keeper when he started off, Sangakkara's batting class was never in doubt. Soon, he improved his glovework and Kaluwitharana, an aggressive batsman himself, was eased out. The selectors sought to relieve Sangakkara of his dual burden and played him as pure batsman in ODIs after the World Cup 2003. His batting improved but the selectors handed him back the wicketkeeping gloves to restore team balance. Meanwhile, Kaluwitharana was jettisoned after he was unsuccessfully tried as a specialist batsman Prasanna Jayawardene has been played as a wicketkeeper in Tests in the recent times to relieve Sangakkara.

Dinesh Karthik & Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Kartik was the first to get the Indian cap but after just one fifty in ten Tests, he gave way to the more aggressive Dhoni. The contest promises to be as fierce as that of Kunderan and Engineer. Dhoni blitzed 148 at Faisalabad, in only his fifth Test, when India were struggling to avoid the follow on, and established his place. Karthik returned for the South Africa tour in 2006, impressed the selectors and was chosen for the tour of Bangladesh as an opener. He punched his way to a century and is almost a certainty for the England tour in a few months.

Moin Khan & Rashid Latif
This wicketkeeping battle was one for the ages. Moin made his debut against West Indies in 1990 and kept for nine games before Latif snatched his spot in 1992 in the last Test against England. The musical chairs continued through the 1990s. Moin was the better batsman while Latif was more skillful behind the stumps. The contest seemingly ended when Latif announced his retirement in 1996, citing differences with his team-mates. However, he came back and was appointed captain in 1998. In March of that year, in one Test against South Africa and two against Zimbabwe, both were in the playing XI; Latif was the captain and the wicketkeeper. Soon however, again due to differences, he was dropped from the team and Moin surged ahead. But Moin, who had become the captain, was left out, after a string of poor performances and Latif was eased back in in 2001. Latif had a good run, even becoming the captain post the 2003 World Cup but the rift between him and the team's management surfaced in 2004 and he was dropped. As expected, Moin filled the breach till Kamran Akmal arrived and put an end to the rivalry.

Lee Germon & Adam Parore
When Glenn Turner took over as the coach in 1995, he wanted a man with proven credentials as a leader to be the captain of New Zealand. He picked Germon, who had turned around the fortunes of Canterbury, which left Parore playing as a pure batsman. Germon was better standing up to stumps and was scratchy against the faster men. Parore was promoted to No. 3. Both played together in 12 Tests and 37 ODIs, with Germon captaining in all but one ODI game. However, in 1997, his form deserted him and when Steve Rixon took over from Turner, his stock fell and he was dropped. Parore had his problems with the New Zealand establishment but went on to mature as a senior-pro, helping out the youngsters and improving his wicketkeeping. He ended up with 204 Test dismissals.

Andy Flower & Tatenda Taibu
Flower played his first Test as a wicketkeeper with the veteran batsman-keeper Dave Houghton playing as a specialist batsman. Slowly, Flower grew in stature as a batsman and for a period of two years from the start of 2000, he was easily the best batsman in his team and one of the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world. However, the improvement in batting appeared to affect his wicketkeeping. Taibu was earmarked as a successor to Flower and was drafted in against India in 2001. Both played together in four Tests before Flower retired post a turbulent 2003 World Cup, in protest of what he termed as "death of democracy" in Zimbabwe. Taibu, too, quit Zimbabwe cricket in 2005 after falling out with the management.

Sriram Veera is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo

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