April 27, 2012

Age of the batsman-wicketkeeper

Wicketkeepers have been far more prolific with the bat since 2000, and Matthew Wade has shown early signs of conforming to that trend
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There was a time when the duty of the wicketkeeper was to keep wicket, and perhaps occasionally contribute with the bat, but that was more than a couple of decades ago. Now, the rules of the game have changed, and Australia's latest incumbent to the role, Matthew Wade, has learnt the new requirements of his job description pretty quickly, becoming only the sixth wicketkeeper from the country to score a Test century. He achieved it in only his third Test, which is pretty impressive considering that one of his predecessors, Wally Grout, played 51 Tests and only managed a highest of 74 (though there's no doubting his quality behind the stumps).

Grout's was an age when a wicketkeeper's skills behind the stumps was almost all that counted - his batting ability was only a bonus. Not any longer, though. Andy Flower was perhaps the first wicketkeeper who could command his place in any team as a batsman alone, though Adam Gilchrist took most of the credit for that with his astonishingly free-spirited batting at No. 7 in a strong Australian side. That redefined the role of a wicketkeeper, and that's perhaps one of the biggest changes seen in Test cricket over the last few decades.

The table below lists decade-wise averages of wicketkeepers since 1950, and it's clear that since 2000 the numbers have changed dramatically: from an average that used to hover in the mid-20s, it has shot up to more than 30 over the last decade. Compared to the 1950s, the batting average of wicketkeepers has jumped up by 53%. During the same period, the averages for openers went up by about 10.5% (33.42 to 36.90), for all top-order batsmen by about 18% (32.42 to 38.34) and for all tailenders by about 11% (14.05 to 15.63). (Top-order defined as batsmen in positions 1 to 7, and tailenders as positions 8 to 11.) In each of those cases, the increase in averages is less than 20%, while for wicketkeepers the rise is more than 50% - that expresses the change pretty eloquently. In the 1950s, there were ten centuries for wicketkeepers in 505 innings - an average of one every 50.5 innings; since 2000, it has gone up to 79 in 1806 innings - that's one every 23 innings.

Batting stats for wicketkeepers in Tests over the decades
Decade Players Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
1950s 38 164 9005 20.60 10/ 39
1960s 35 186 12,150 23.59 12/ 59
1970s 24 198 14,764 27.29 11/ 84
1980s 39 266 15,696 23.63 14/ 63
1990s 37 347 25,950 27.28 30/ 126
2000s 47 464 41,705 31.81 65/ 207
2010s 27 98 8534 30.37 14/ 46
Batting stats for wicketkeepers in Tests before and since 2000
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Before 2000 1480 94,251 24.02 91/ 433
Since 2000 562 50,239 31.55 79/ 253

The team-wise batting stats for wicketkeepers since 2000 has two teams with 42-plus averages, followed by a huge gap, and then the rest. Thanks to Flower and Gilchrist, Zimbabwe and Australia are way ahead of the rest of the sides.

During this period, Zimbabwe have had only three wicketkeepers - Flower, Tatenda Taibu and Regis Chakabva (who has played just one Test). Flower had outstanding stats in the 23 Tests he played during this period, averaging more than 73 in 20 Tests. For Australia, Brad Haddin has been the other keeper who has played plenty of Tests apart from Gilchrist, and he hasn't done badly either with the bat, averaging almost 36 in 43 Tests. And that's despite struggling in his last four series, in which he managed only two half-centuries in 17 innings. Wade has begun well too, though the challenge will be to maintain that average of almost 40. In fact, Australia's batting average for their wicketkeepers since Gilchrist's retirement is 35.88, which is second among all teams - only England's average of 40.66 is higher.

After those two teams, there are six bunched together with averages between 29 and 33. England's average is boosted by Matt Prior's prolific form - he averages more than 43 in 52 Tests. That's made up for the lack of contributions from Geraint Jones and Chris Read, who played 48 Tests between them for a combined average of 23.34. Sri Lanka's overall average has fallen since Kumar Sangakkara decided to give up wicketkeeping in Tests (though his stats as a specialist batsman completely justifies that move). Prasanna Jayawardene, his replacement, didn't contribute a whole lot as a batsman in his early days, but has shown impressive skill and resolve with the bat in the last 18 months.

India have used more wicketkeepers than any other team, mainly because they couldn't make up their minds in the early 2000s, but since MS Dhoni took over he hasn't had much competition. Dhoni's overall batting numbers are reasonably good too, with an average of more than 37 in 67 Tests.

At the bottom of that group of six teams is South Africa, with one wicketkeeper playing almost all their matches during this period. Mark Boucher is far and away the most successful wicketkeeper in terms of dismissals, but his batting stats are slightly disappointing - only two centuries in 122 Tests, and an average of 30.22, is probably a little lesser than what Boucher should have achieved given his ability.

Batting stats for wicketkeepers of each team in Tests since 2000
Team Players Tests Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Zimbabwe 3 48 3477 44.57 46.31 7/ 20
Australia 5 142 7893 42.20 69.89 20/ 35
England 6 156 6981 33.40 53.69 11/ 40
Sri Lanka 6 116 5590 33.07 52.12 11/ 18
New Zealand 7 95 4123 30.54 50.25 7/ 18
India 11 132 5493 30.51 50.59 7/ 33
Pakistan 9 106 4588 29.60 58.01 8/ 21
South Africa 3 128 4813 29.34 50.58 2/ 32
Bangladesh 4 73 2985 23.69 38.51 2/ 13
West Indies 6 127 4279 22.88 48.60 4/ 23

And finally, here's a look at the wicketkeepers with the best batting averages (with a qualification of 2000 runs in the matches in which they kept wicket). Not surprisingly, most of the top names belong to the post-2000 era. The one exception among the top eight is England's Les Ames, who scored eight hundreds in 44 Tests as wicketkeeper, and averaged 43.40. He played in the 1930s, when the overall average of wicketkeepers was 25.67, which offers a good indication of how much better he was than the others in his era. In that decade, Ames scored 2387 runs; no other wicketkeeper scored more than 820.

Wicketkeeper-batsmen with highest Test batting averages (Qual: 2000 runs)
Player Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Andy Flower 55 4404 53.70 12/ 23
Adam Gilchrist 96 5570 47.60 17/ 26
Les Ames 44 2387 43.40 8/ 7
Matt Prior 52 2758 43.09 6/ 19
Kumar Sangakkara 48 3117 40.48 7/ 11
MS Dhoni 67 3509 37.32 5/ 24
Brad Haddin 43 2257 35.82 3/ 10
Alec Stewart 82 4540 34.92 6/ 23
Brendon McCullum 51 2782 34.77 5/ 15
Alan Knott 95 4389 32.75 5/ 30
Jeff Dujon 79 3146 31.46 5/ 16
Farokh Engineer 46 2611 31.08 2/ 16
Only includes matches in which they played as a wicketkeeper.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mikey76 on April 28, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    Prior head and shoulders above anybody out there. Completely outclassed Haddin and Dhoni in the recent test series, they were his only real competition. All the mistakes that dogged his early career have been virtually banished and he keeps just as well to Swann as the quicks. He's also great to watch. Has a habit of playing important knocks when the chips are down.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on April 28, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost: Agreed, one can never definitely know what would have happened if Russell (or another keeper) and not Stewart had been behind the stumps in those 80 odd tests. But such evidence as is provided by the numbers backs up your argument.

  • Truemans_Ghost on April 28, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    @Adrian, yes that is exactly my point. Well put. I would caution though that he COULD have made those 1500 extra runs if he'd played at a specialist, not WOULD have done. It shouldn't be forgotten though that an average of 46 was in the 90s when a 40 plus average meant something should not be dismissed lightly, especially in the context of England at the time.

  • Mad_Hamish on April 28, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    After 40 tests Rod Marsh averaged 35, it had peaked at 38. His batting dropped away a lot later in his career. An average of 30 for a keeper is a fair way off pathetic for a #7, looking at the list there's 7 keepers through all of test history who averaged over 35 and made over 2000 runs. Sure he's not Flower or Gilchrist but they're extremely rare (and on what I saw of Flower keep Boucher is significantly better behind the stumps that Flower was) One thing to be aware of is that most keepers batting tends to fall away due to the damage they take to the hands from balls and in the legs from all the squatting and movement so I'd expect Prior to drop below 40 in time and Sangakkara and Flower probably would have dropped if they hadn't given up the gloves.

  • Thesonofg on April 27, 2012, 22:41 GMT

    One thing seemingly overlooked, is what was required of that wicket-keeper batsman? Some did not develop their batting skills too much because they were rarely needed! I think that someone like a Jeff Dujon could have easily made any team as a batsman. Most times he would come in when fast scoring was needed or having no recognized batsman to partner him. Statistics does not do justice to some of these players. Good article, none-the-less.

  • on April 27, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    I agree with the post below, Boucher is very overhyped, he has an excellent record doesnt mean he is the best wicket keeper, has hardly ever been challenged to stand up to the stumps for an extended period, and I hardly remember him taking any acrobatic takes in the last 6 to 7 years. Compare his keeping to Mccullum, Sangakkara and even Brad Haddin or Matt Prior I dont think hes the best. But his batting obviously should not be judged by his average or hundreds, hes played useful gritty innings for SA throught his career in both one day and t20, only recently hes lost form with the bat.

  • CheeseOnAStick on April 27, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    I have never understood why Boucher is spoken of so highly. He has the most dismissals because he has kept in the most innings; not because he is extraordinary at it. He does this while having the pathetic average of 30-odd after almost 150 matches. In a weaker team he would have been dropped years ago.

    On a lighter note I just noticed K. Akmal averages 2 dismissals per innings. Can you imagine the number of chances Pakistan must have generated in his 99 innings for him to actually take 2 of them (on average) every time?

  • dadvoc on April 27, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Mark Boucher is indeed a great disappointment

  • jonesy2 on April 27, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    prior is a poor keeper end of story

  • ozprof on April 27, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Interesting that Rod Marsh does not make the list. I think that as much as anything really shows how much the role of a wicketkeeper has changed.

    When Marsh was first chosen as the Aust wicketkeeper, much was made of his ability with the bat and how he could contribute in that area.

  • mikey76 on April 28, 2012, 18:51 GMT

    Prior head and shoulders above anybody out there. Completely outclassed Haddin and Dhoni in the recent test series, they were his only real competition. All the mistakes that dogged his early career have been virtually banished and he keeps just as well to Swann as the quicks. He's also great to watch. Has a habit of playing important knocks when the chips are down.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on April 28, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost: Agreed, one can never definitely know what would have happened if Russell (or another keeper) and not Stewart had been behind the stumps in those 80 odd tests. But such evidence as is provided by the numbers backs up your argument.

  • Truemans_Ghost on April 28, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    @Adrian, yes that is exactly my point. Well put. I would caution though that he COULD have made those 1500 extra runs if he'd played at a specialist, not WOULD have done. It shouldn't be forgotten though that an average of 46 was in the 90s when a 40 plus average meant something should not be dismissed lightly, especially in the context of England at the time.

  • Mad_Hamish on April 28, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    After 40 tests Rod Marsh averaged 35, it had peaked at 38. His batting dropped away a lot later in his career. An average of 30 for a keeper is a fair way off pathetic for a #7, looking at the list there's 7 keepers through all of test history who averaged over 35 and made over 2000 runs. Sure he's not Flower or Gilchrist but they're extremely rare (and on what I saw of Flower keep Boucher is significantly better behind the stumps that Flower was) One thing to be aware of is that most keepers batting tends to fall away due to the damage they take to the hands from balls and in the legs from all the squatting and movement so I'd expect Prior to drop below 40 in time and Sangakkara and Flower probably would have dropped if they hadn't given up the gloves.

  • Thesonofg on April 27, 2012, 22:41 GMT

    One thing seemingly overlooked, is what was required of that wicket-keeper batsman? Some did not develop their batting skills too much because they were rarely needed! I think that someone like a Jeff Dujon could have easily made any team as a batsman. Most times he would come in when fast scoring was needed or having no recognized batsman to partner him. Statistics does not do justice to some of these players. Good article, none-the-less.

  • on April 27, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    I agree with the post below, Boucher is very overhyped, he has an excellent record doesnt mean he is the best wicket keeper, has hardly ever been challenged to stand up to the stumps for an extended period, and I hardly remember him taking any acrobatic takes in the last 6 to 7 years. Compare his keeping to Mccullum, Sangakkara and even Brad Haddin or Matt Prior I dont think hes the best. But his batting obviously should not be judged by his average or hundreds, hes played useful gritty innings for SA throught his career in both one day and t20, only recently hes lost form with the bat.

  • CheeseOnAStick on April 27, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    I have never understood why Boucher is spoken of so highly. He has the most dismissals because he has kept in the most innings; not because he is extraordinary at it. He does this while having the pathetic average of 30-odd after almost 150 matches. In a weaker team he would have been dropped years ago.

    On a lighter note I just noticed K. Akmal averages 2 dismissals per innings. Can you imagine the number of chances Pakistan must have generated in his 99 innings for him to actually take 2 of them (on average) every time?

  • dadvoc on April 27, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    Mark Boucher is indeed a great disappointment

  • jonesy2 on April 27, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    prior is a poor keeper end of story

  • ozprof on April 27, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Interesting that Rod Marsh does not make the list. I think that as much as anything really shows how much the role of a wicketkeeper has changed.

    When Marsh was first chosen as the Aust wicketkeeper, much was made of his ability with the bat and how he could contribute in that area.

  • on April 27, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    Prior is the best keeper batsman these days, He always scores when his team needs him to with counter attacking innings and his keeping has improved a lot since 2010. I l am a huge Mccullum fan but hes left keeping in test matches, purely as a batsman hes doing well in test cricket but I think if u judge purely by keeping skills he was the best and very underrated as a keeper.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on April 27, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost: You make an interesting point which suggests some others. According to statsguru Stewart scored 4540 in 130 completed innings as designated WK at an average of 34.92, and 3923 runs in 84 completed innings at 46.70 when not. On many occasions during these years England played Stewart as WK not a specialist batter, discarded Russell, and brought in an extra batsman. In hindsight you have to say this was the wrong tactic, at least if that extra batsman was Hick, Ramprakash, Crawley or Knight, etc, all of whose test averages, where better than Russell's 27, were not 12 runs better, so did not make up the loss of 12 runs on average which came with Stewie being WK; and this apart from any improvement behind the stumps which might have come from playing Russell there. Secondly, if Stewart had played those 130 innings as a specialist batsman, on average he would have made 6071 runs in them not 4540, taking him to the verge of being the only England batter with 10000 test runs

  • chilled_avenger on April 27, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    @zenboomerang Andy Flower averaged 70.75 (not 26) in 5 tests against South Africa and not that it makes much difference,but he averaged 33.33 (not 22) in 4 Tests against England. You obviously mistook his Batting averages in South Africa and England as his overall averages against them. But he only played 1 test each in South Africa & Australia and 2 tests in England so its not fair to judge his Batting prowess on the basis of 1-2 tests and ignore his overall Career achievements. Give him the respect he deserves in the world of Cricket! @Avinash Ravindranath Sangakkara has a overall Batting average of 54.86,but as a Wicketkeeper he averages 40.48 and this articles takes into account only those matches he played as Wicketkeeper!

  • AdrianVanDenStael on April 27, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    For those who asked about ways of weighing wicketkeeper's total contribution in terms of keeping and batting skills, here's a relevant article about England wicketkeepers back in 2008 http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/362436.html A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, of course, but interestingly, at the time, the analysis appears to suggest that Matt Prior is by far the worst recent wicketkeeper England have had.

  • on April 27, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @Andrew Douch - What's also interesting along the same lines is that Prior actually has one more century than does McCullum - even though he benefits with the not outs by batting lower down the order, he manages to make the big scores too.

  • Truemans_Ghost on April 27, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    There is a slight nuance in analysing genuine specailist batsmen who keep. I can't be bothered to do the statsguru thing, but Stewart certainly averaged more as specialist bat than he did when playing as a keeper. When looking at his value to the team you have to take into account the runs "lost" by the effect keeping had on his batting, as well as "gained" by having a keeper who could bat. I wonder if England hadn't been in such a desperate state for much of Stewart's career whether he would ever have needed to take up the gloves.

  • Trickstar on April 27, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    @Andrew Douch McCullum has 85 innings and Prior 79, still It does make me laugh when people say that about not outs, especially when you look at a lot of Prior's innings where the not outs came in declarations, so basically he is being deprived of making the runs he otherwise could of if he was allowed to bat on, it's happened lots over the last 3 years with Prior, where he could have scored many more runs but the team declared. You hear this nonsense said all the time against Dhoni in one day cricket and again it shouldn't take anything away from him that bowlers can't dismiss him. As far as who's the best when both are doing the keeper batsman role, it's Prior quite comfortably, nobodies touched him in the last couple of years in that job he does.

  • EdwinD on April 27, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    Not sure that a keeper who averages say 40 but puts a catch down once every five innings rates higher than a keeper who averages 40 but doesn't miss anything in ten (I'm not referring to anyone in particular here).

    The best keepers would have to be those who you never notice ie they rarely make a mistake and also keep to spinners (think of the cumulative effort involved in crouching as opposed to standing up), so Knott and Healy (Underwood and Warne) respectively get my vote. Jack Russell rates a mention purely on having to keep to Devon Malcolm :-)

    Re: Dyan181 I'll be a bit naughty here and mention that Alec Stewart's early selection for England as a batsman may have been influenced by the England manager at the time....not sure it was deserved totally on merit, although a couple of years later it probably was.

  • zenboomerang on April 27, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    So Andy Flower had an average @22 (4 games) against England, @26 (5 games) against South Africa, @14 (1 game) against Australia out of a total of 63 games... Yes, that must make him the best keeper/batsman in the world... lol... Perhaps comparing Flower against the better bowling teams over his 11 year career would give a fairer account of where his batting skills were really at...

  • ijk007 on April 27, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    @Kumar Sangakkara's average is more than 56. The data is incorrect

    Please note that, Sangakkara didn't keep since more than 5 years if I am correct. This list comprises only Wicket Keeper-Batsmen.

  • Trickstar on April 27, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    @Avinash Ravindranath No you're wrong, he averages 40 when batting as keeper, haven't you noticed that's the theme of the article.

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 27, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    Wayne Phillips of Australia was an absolutely thrilling batsman, with his Barbados century at #8 and his numerous other counter attacks against windies in 1984-85 home series, and finally that thrilling second final at MCG where he blasted Garner for 16 runs in the final over. It is a great great pity that he was converted to a wicketkeeper and lost his batting consistency totally. He was an absolute superstar in the making.

  • on April 27, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    I understand that the article is coming from stats perspective only but it will be worthwhile to see how much the emphasis on bating has cost the teams. I don't think it will be statistically possible to calculate the impact of a missed stumping of a batsman who goes on to make a century or a dropped catch etc.

    On a more subjective note one can look at Pakistan and the number of losses they suffered due to a person standing in wicket keeper's slot because he can make some runs. ( I do not have the gumption to call Kamran Akmal a keeper). I would reckon that an acrobatic keeper of yesteryears could have added more wickets in mid 2000s when flat tracks were forcing captains to remove slips early in the games but how to measure it is a question.

  • on April 27, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    Kumar Sangakkara's average is more than 56. The data is incorrect

  • bobmartin on April 27, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    @Posted by Henrik Lovén on (April 27 2012, 08:59 AM GMT)... Exactly.. and what about Jim Parks.. another very ordinary keeper selected for his supposedly superior batting skills

  • Simoc on April 27, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    That's certainly a list of the best ever and interesting that B Haddin is in there and R Marsh (Oz selecter) and I Healey aren't. W'keepers must take the catches and stop the ball. Those that do it with style (the two above) are way over rated. Healey didn't dive for anything out of reach so didn't miss to many.

  • awesomeadil on April 27, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    How can we forget Zimbabwe's David Houghton. I still remember his innings in the 1987 World Cup against NZ... and Ian Smith from New Zealand.

  • on April 27, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    Excuse me, but what is new? Godfrey Evans kept out the superior wicketkeeper George Duckworth on batting ability in the 50s as Alan Knott did Bob Taylor in the 70s. As long ago as 1902, the England captain lamented that a wicketkeeper had been selected ahead of another on batting ability and dropped a catch the other would have taken, a catch that cost his side the match (I think it may have been "Sailor" Young?). I doubt keeper-batsmen such as Marsh, Engineer or Dujon were selected primarily on their keeping skills. The only thing new is that the keeper-batsman allrounder has given place to the batsman-keeper in the same way that the former began replace the wicket-keeping specialist more than 100 years ago.

  • Pelham_Barton on April 27, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Before Andy Flower: As already noted, Alec Stewart and Jeff Dujon. Before them, Alan Knott was probably worth his place as a batsman alone, and it was certainly his superior batting that kept the excellent wicketkeeper Bob Taylor out of the side. Earlier still, Jim Parks was certainly played as a batsman who could keep wicket, ahead of John Murray and Jimmy Binks. Earlier still, Leslie Ames.

  • on April 27, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Where is Akmal Bradman? the worst wicket keeper of them all!

  • Hari28395 on April 27, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    @Douch i think we have to see the no. of innings played which would differ for both the players

  • Dyan181 on April 27, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Good article Rajesh, as usual, though it is not Andy Flower who can claim to be the first keeper to warrant a place in the side as a specialist batsman. Alec Stewart was already a specialist batsman in the England side before Andy Flower even made his test debut. Moreover, Alec Stewart's presence in the time did much to balance the side that it almost went unnoticed that England lacked anything that could possibly be construed as an allrounder for beyond a decade. I would therefore argue that it was Alec Stewart who revolutionized the role of the modern wicket-keeper batsman.

  • on April 27, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Interesting, Prior and McCullum have played the same amount of tests and have the same amount of runs yet Prior's average is 8 higher. It doesn't tell me he's a better batsman - maybe a reflection of his place in the batting order where he gets quite a few "not outs". Id be interested to see some more indepth stats on those two

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    I actually think it was Jeff Dujon who started the Keeper/Batsmen drive. It was shattering for me when he first toured Oz, not only did we have to contend with the best pace bowlers who also could bat (Holding & Marshall), the best openers & the best middle order, we had to cope with the best batting keeper in the world. He even opened one tour to Oz, it was even worse that he was arguably the nicest guy in world cricket too! Then I think Alec Stewart took up the mantle, although more obviously a batsmen who kept, then Flower.

  • Cool_Jeeves on April 27, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Rajesh, please check your numbers for Dujon. He played 81 Tests.
    Editor's reply: Dujon did play 81 Tests, but his first two were as specialist batsmen, against Australia in 1981-82. David Murray kept wicket in those Tests. Dujon played as a wicketkeeper-batsman in 79 Tests.

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  • Cool_Jeeves on April 27, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Rajesh, please check your numbers for Dujon. He played 81 Tests.
    Editor's reply: Dujon did play 81 Tests, but his first two were as specialist batsmen, against Australia in 1981-82. David Murray kept wicket in those Tests. Dujon played as a wicketkeeper-batsman in 79 Tests.

  • Meety on April 27, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    I actually think it was Jeff Dujon who started the Keeper/Batsmen drive. It was shattering for me when he first toured Oz, not only did we have to contend with the best pace bowlers who also could bat (Holding & Marshall), the best openers & the best middle order, we had to cope with the best batting keeper in the world. He even opened one tour to Oz, it was even worse that he was arguably the nicest guy in world cricket too! Then I think Alec Stewart took up the mantle, although more obviously a batsmen who kept, then Flower.

  • on April 27, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Interesting, Prior and McCullum have played the same amount of tests and have the same amount of runs yet Prior's average is 8 higher. It doesn't tell me he's a better batsman - maybe a reflection of his place in the batting order where he gets quite a few "not outs". Id be interested to see some more indepth stats on those two

  • Dyan181 on April 27, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Good article Rajesh, as usual, though it is not Andy Flower who can claim to be the first keeper to warrant a place in the side as a specialist batsman. Alec Stewart was already a specialist batsman in the England side before Andy Flower even made his test debut. Moreover, Alec Stewart's presence in the time did much to balance the side that it almost went unnoticed that England lacked anything that could possibly be construed as an allrounder for beyond a decade. I would therefore argue that it was Alec Stewart who revolutionized the role of the modern wicket-keeper batsman.

  • Hari28395 on April 27, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    @Douch i think we have to see the no. of innings played which would differ for both the players

  • on April 27, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Where is Akmal Bradman? the worst wicket keeper of them all!

  • Pelham_Barton on April 27, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Before Andy Flower: As already noted, Alec Stewart and Jeff Dujon. Before them, Alan Knott was probably worth his place as a batsman alone, and it was certainly his superior batting that kept the excellent wicketkeeper Bob Taylor out of the side. Earlier still, Jim Parks was certainly played as a batsman who could keep wicket, ahead of John Murray and Jimmy Binks. Earlier still, Leslie Ames.

  • on April 27, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    Excuse me, but what is new? Godfrey Evans kept out the superior wicketkeeper George Duckworth on batting ability in the 50s as Alan Knott did Bob Taylor in the 70s. As long ago as 1902, the England captain lamented that a wicketkeeper had been selected ahead of another on batting ability and dropped a catch the other would have taken, a catch that cost his side the match (I think it may have been "Sailor" Young?). I doubt keeper-batsmen such as Marsh, Engineer or Dujon were selected primarily on their keeping skills. The only thing new is that the keeper-batsman allrounder has given place to the batsman-keeper in the same way that the former began replace the wicket-keeping specialist more than 100 years ago.

  • awesomeadil on April 27, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    How can we forget Zimbabwe's David Houghton. I still remember his innings in the 1987 World Cup against NZ... and Ian Smith from New Zealand.

  • Simoc on April 27, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    That's certainly a list of the best ever and interesting that B Haddin is in there and R Marsh (Oz selecter) and I Healey aren't. W'keepers must take the catches and stop the ball. Those that do it with style (the two above) are way over rated. Healey didn't dive for anything out of reach so didn't miss to many.