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A modern great, a complete package, a natural, and a fighter feature in our wicketkeeper shortlist for Pakistan
May 4, 2010
For large tracts of their history Pakistan have not really had to worry about the man behind the stumps. Imtiaz Ahmed wasn't Pakistan's first wicketkeeper - Hanif Mohammad had the gloves for the first three Tests - but he became a calming presence in those first years and into the early 60s.
Through the 70s and mid-80s, Wasim Bari towered above all others, nearly unchallenged, except for a brief period by the late Taslim Arif. In the 90s came a feisty battle between Moin Khan and Rashid Latif, and since 2004, Kamran Akmal has been in sole custody. If opening, to cite one example, has been a migraine, then wicketkeeping has never been more than a very mild headache; and very rarely at that.
Pakistan's many selectors, in fact, have traditionally been loath to chop and change with their keepers. None of the most successful glovemen, from Bari to Moin to Latif to Akmal, have been immune to criticism or calls for their axing at various stages; yet more often than not selectors have refused to tinker. An atypical stability is to be found in this department, so much so that all the names nominated in this list have captained Pakistan - captaincy being reward more often than not for seniority and longevity - and not just as stop-gap appointees.
The demands of modern-day wicketkeeping have changed. What you do with the smaller gloves is now as important, maybe even more. None of these nominees are mugs with the bat, but that probably the best pure batsman of the lot, Akmal, has been overlooked suggests Pakistan would still rather have a man who can first and foremost hold on to the ball. Akmal has more international hundreds - 11 - than all the others on this list put together, but his increasingly unsafe work behind the stumps is a heavy price to pay in Tests. And in reality, as the nominations below show, Pakistan have been blessed with good wicketkeepers who could also hold their own with the bat.
We'll be publishing an all-time Pakistan XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your wicketkeeper click here
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