Wicketkeeper July 6, 2010

Safe, solid, sometimes spectacular

The West Indies side has been blessed down the years with keepers who could bat, and bat well

Ever since Karl Nunes, the captain of the team, walked out to bat at No. 4 at Lord's in West Indies' first Test in 1928, their man behind the stumps has usually been not only a wicketkeeper but also a batsman.

On that June day, Nunes scored 37, the team's second-highest score of the innings, and ever since, up until recent times, West Indies wicketkeepers, some of whom have batted up the order, have always contributed to the team's total.

In fact, Errol Hunte, who batted at No. 11 in both innings of his first Test match, moved up to No. 2 in the order in his second Test and chalked up the team's top score of 58 in the first innings and 30 in the second. In 1933, Ivan Barrow, opening the innings, scored West Indies' first century (105 at Old Trafford) in England - a few minutes before George Headley, who went on to score 169 at No. 3. Clyde Walcott, the wicketkeeper who opened the innings in his debut Test in 1948, scored two centuries and two fifties in India in 1948-49 while batting at Nos. 4 and 3, and a memorable 168 not out at Lord's in 1950 to lead West Indies to their first victory in England.

The run-scoring record of West Indies wicketkeepers is underlined by the performances of Clairmonte Depeiaza, who made 122 in his world-record seventh-wicket partnership of 348 with Denis Atkinson against Australia in 1955; Gerry Alexander, who made 60 and 5, 5 and 72, 0 and 108, 63 not out and 87 not out, and 11 and 73 against Australia in 1960-61 with a table-topping average of 60.50, and Jeffrey Dujon with a career tally of 3322 runs with five centuries at 31.94.

It is not surprising that having been weaned on a diet of fast bowling, almost all West Indies wicketkeepers were brilliant against fast bowling.

The contenders

Clyde Walcott
He started his career as an opening batsman-wicketkeeper against England in 1948 but gave up the gloves to stand in the slips after the series against Australia in 1951-52. A big man, wicketkeeping apparently took its toll on him, and after showing promise with the bat, he became one of the finest West Indies batsmen of all time; but he was undoubtedly also a reliable wicketkeeper.

Jackie Hendriks
Arguably the best all-round wicketkeeper produced by West Indies. As a batsman, he was useful at the first-class level. As a keeper, however, he was among the best at the highest level. Like all West Indies keepers, Hendriks was great against pace. Unlike most of them, however, he was also great with spin. In 20 Test matches he took 42 catches and made five stumpings.

Deryck Murray
Murray was a sound and solid wicketkeeper, who in his first Test series at age 20 held the world record of 24 dismissals - 22 catches and two stumpings. A quiet man, he was far from flashy, doing his job without fuss. As a batsman he also batted up the order at times, but without much success. Apart from his partnership with Andy Roberts that rescued West Indies against Pakistan at the first World Cup in 1975, his best effort with the bat came in Bombay in 1974-75, when he scored 91 in a match-winning partnership of 250 with Clive Lloyd. In 62 Test matches Murray took 181 catches and made eight stumpings.

Jeffrey Dujon
A stylish, top-order batsman in first-class cricket who became a wicketkeeper. A brilliant, acrobatic catcher of the ball, he leapt high and flew far on either side to take some fantastic catches. Nothing from the fast bowlers, it seemed, was too high or too wide for him to catch. Like Murray before him, he was, probably even more so, the ideal wicketkeeper for West Indies' fearsome battery of fast bowlers. In 81 Test matches, and on top of his fine batting performances, Dujon took 267 catches and made five stumpings.

We'll be publishing an all-time West Indies XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your wicketkeeper click here

Former sports editor of the Jamaica Gleaner and the Daily News, Tony Becca has covered West Indies cricket for 30 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2010, 20:55 GMT

    Jeff Dujon, hands down, would be my choice for the 'keeper's spot. Neither Walcott nor Hedricks kept long enough to warrant selection. Derryck Murray was solid,level-headed, but not spectacular. One not mentioned here is probably our technically purest 'keeper ever, David Murray. Naturally talented, but came along at the wrong time.Could bat a bit too;did so at # 3 for Bim on more than one occasion. Great playerof AND 'keeper to spin.Our incumbent Ramdin has a very long way to go before being considered one of our greats.My ideal XI: Hunte, Greenidge,Richards,Sobers,Lara, Weekes, Worrell (capt.), Dujon, Marshall, Ambrose & Gibbs. Worrell is perhaps the greatest ever captain in ANY sport. His exploits are in a word:legendary.Stylish batsman too. The incomparable Sobers is an automatic pick in any WI or World XI. Marshall is certainly either the greatest pacer who ever graced a cricket field, or is in the top 3 for sure. Richards simple broke bowlers' hearts. The rest select themselves.

  • Michael on July 9, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    Someone said that a team with openers av.40+,and other batsmen av.50+,we dont need Walcott to keep to bolster the batting,absolutely correct!Walcott,Weekes and Headley all av.55+,and MUST be included in the middle order,---for the remaining position Richards and Lara would have to fight for that spot!NOTE! Walcott was put forward for two positions---Middle order batsman,and wicketkeeper.I would,however, go for Walcott as keeper. Lara has to be included based on averages alone, ahead of Richards,however,I would rather watch the brute force of Richards ahead of the self centred Lara any day!My team so far ,based on the positions put forward by the panel and based on averages alone ,would be .Hunte,Greenidge,Weekes,Lara.Headley.Sobers,Walcott,however, I would rather watch Fredericks,Greenidge,Weekes,Richards,Lara,Sobers and Walcott any day.

  • alfanso on July 9, 2010, 19:43 GMT

    How did Ridley Jacobs not make the list ?

  • Martin on July 9, 2010, 4:54 GMT

    Dear Slaton, Being biased is one thing but being irratrional is another. How can you even compare Weeks with Lara? Lara is probaly the first pick on the side after Sobers. Also, your side has 4 middle order batsmen with Sobers coming at # 7? You may as well pick only batsmen....they'll probaly make 1000 runs in every innings and not lose a game.

  • Alston on July 9, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    I'm Biased as I wouldn't even select this team without Worrell as captain.That being so and selecting a team around him most of the choices made so far wouldn't be made by me.

    That being so my choices are

    Hunte and Worrell to open

    Headley, Richards, Lara and Weekes in the middle - an extra bat because we have the extra allrounder in Worrell and well Richards can always throw his hand over plus I couldn't separate Lara and Weekes - Mr. Big Runs against Mr. Consistency


    Murray because we need someone who can actually read spin

    Marshall, Roberts- the two most complete fast bowlers we have ever had

    Gibbs- The best off spinner in the world during his era and certainly our best spinner ever.

  • Michael on July 8, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    @Waspsting!You claimed to have never seen Walcott,yet you say he wasnt a top class keeper(a keeper who rarely misses a chance),otherwise he wouldnt have given up the gloves!Walcott didnt give up the gloves based on those.He gave up the gloves because as a big man,6ft,2",the constant bending down and getting up was beginning to take a toll on his massive frame,and because he could have easily made the team as a batsman,he decided to hang up the gloves to concentrate on his batting,and rightly so,because his av.jump from 49 as a keeper,to 56 as a batsman!How many chances did Walcott and Dujon missed(just curious).It is also POSSIBLE that Dujon could have dropped Bradman on 20 before he goes on to make 220!There could also have been days when Dujon could have made 150,and Walcott a duck.Your logic is flawed too!As I said before,if Walcott doesnt make the team as the keeper,he has to make it as a batsman .

  • Sheldon on July 8, 2010, 9:39 GMT

    Walcott kept wicket for the West Indies from Jan 1948 to Nov 1951. During 15 test matches he took 27 catches and made 11 stumpings while keeping to Ramadhin and Valentine. His batting average for the period was 40.36 with a highest score of 168 against England at Lords. He was not dropped as wicket keeper because of spilling catches but because of a bad back caused by a spinal injury. Jeff Dujon took 267 catches and made 5 stumpings in 81 matches. His batting average was 31.94. Therefore, Dujon may have an advantage keeping to the fast bowlers, but Walcott would be superior standing up to a spinner, and has a superior batting average. This is what you call a win-win situation. Both Walcott and Dujon would be excellent choices. However, as a spectator I'd love to watch Walcott bat.

  • Martin on July 8, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    This is my team: Greenidge, Haynes, Headley, Lara, Richards, Sobers, Walcott, Marshall, Holding, Roberts & Gibbs. No all-time XI from any other country can beat this team.

  • shafeen on July 8, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    @metman - loved your response! - and appreciate its tone the the scathing one often adopted in such debates. I never saw Walcott - but heres my philosophy.

    Pick the best batsman among TOP CLASS KEEPERS. don't sacrifice keeping abilities for batting abilities. as far as i know, walcott wasn't a top class keeper (which I'd define as a guy who rarely misses a chance) - if he were, he wouldn't have given up the gloves. Andy Flower, Kanhai, Dravid and even Sangakarra all fit into the same category.

    thats just my opinion. There'll be days when keeper Walcott will thump 150 where Dujon wouldn't have, but there will also be days when he'll drop Bradman on 20 before the Don goes on to 220 where Dujon wouldn't have.

    But personally, I'd pick Dujon over a batsman-keeper like Walcott.

  • Kush on July 8, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    Greenidge and Haynes are a legendary opening pair but for an all time Windies squad one or both may need to go so that Headley, Lara, Richards, Weekes and Walcott can be accomodated. And of course Gary Sobers. I cannot see how any of the these six can be left out while Greenidge and Haynes take up two positions. Else sacrifice Dujon for Walcott.

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