Wicket-Keeper is the only specialist fielding position in a Cricket team. The role of a wicket-keeper is inarguably the most important for any side, and the player donning the gloves can decide the game with a missed catch or a brilliant stumping. For most of the cricketing history, a wicket-keeper was just expected to portray his brilliance behind the wickets with no contributions with the bat.
However, with the evolution of the game, several wickets-keepers became accomplished batsman and hence further strengthened the position of a wicket-keeper. A wicket-keeper is the only player on the field who cannot relax for even a single ball and has to be aware of a bowler’s line and length even before they bowl a delivery.
Often the bowlers get a lot of credit for taking wickets in crucial positions. However, a wicket-keeper should be equally acknowledged for his role in a bowler’s success and often it’s a wicket-keeper who informs the bowler about batsman’s mindset and grabs every fine edge and stumps the batsman or any opportunity. The catches taken by wicket-keepers are equally difficult and increase the confidence of a bowler. These catches become even more important in limited over games where every single wicket can change the course of the game. Let us look at top five wicket-keepers with maximum catches in ODI:
The Australian wicket-keeper is one of the pioneers of modern-day cricket. When he’s made his debut the role of a wicket-keeper was perceived very differently. A wicket-keeper was seen as a specialist who was only expected to bat lower down the order. Most of the teams didn’t expect a lot of runs from their keepers.
However, Gilchrist had other plans. His explosive batting along with exceptional wicket-keeping skills opened the doors of a new breed of players. His antics proved that a wicket-keeper can also prove a game-changer with his batting skills. Gilchrist kept wickets for several accomplished spinners such as Shane Warne and Brad Hogg whereas he also endured the pace of Brett Lee and Shaun Tait with visible ease.
Gilchrist who was the hero for Australia in 2011 World Cup triumph took 417 Catches as a wicket-keeper in 281 innings and is the player with the maximum number of catches behind the wicket. Several upcoming keepers see Adam Gilchrist as an inspiring figure in cricket.
Mark Boucher was Adam Gilchrist’s contemporary in South Africa. Both the players started their careers at almost similar times and changed all the pre-imminent definitions of a wicket-keeper. Unlike Gilchrist, Boucher donned the role of a finisher for South Africa and won them similar games with the bat.
Boucher was one of the few players in cricketing history who could win a game just by their glove work. His efficiency behind the stumps instilled a feeling of fear in most of the batsman, and Boucher was arguably the epitome of a modern-day keeper.
Boucher whose career ended with an unfortunate injury took 402 catches behind the wickets in 290 innings and stands 2nd on the list of wicket-keepers with the maximum number of catches.
Kumar Sangakkara is arguably the greatest Sri Lankan player ever. The wicket-keeper batsman broke many records with his batting. However, his exceptional batting skills often overshadowed his wicket-keeping which was by far the best in his generation. The Lankan skipper kept the wickets of master of spin Muralitharan amongst others and never looked uneasy.
What makes Sangakkara’s achievement even more brilliant is the slow Sri Lankan wickets where he played most of his cricket. Sangakkara played on the spin-friendly wickets which were considered a nightmare for keepers. However, his records give testimony to his quality. The left-hander didn’t hesitate even standing closer to the wickets on the fearing pace of Vaas and Malinga.
Sangakkara’s swiftness and awareness behind the wickets differentiated him from others and made him the best wicket-keeper ever to come out of the Indian subcontinent. He has 383 catches in 353 innings and remains a hero for several blooming players.
Indian Cricket team always struggled for a stable wicket-keeping option till MS Dhoni. MS Dhoni has been the best Indian keeper in their history. Though criticized in the earlier part of his career for unorthodox technique, MS Dhoni eventually proved himself as one of the best keepers in modern cricket.
Dhoni also proved himself as an able leader and is the only cricket captain to win all the major ICC trophies. MS Dhoni is a bowler’s dream, and his instructions from behind the wicket proved very useful for the bowlers. However, his keeping skills were often ignored courtesy to his master classes in batting and captaincy. His spectacular wicket-keeping skills often make a treat for highlights package and few of his catches are amongst the contenders for the best glove work ever. The former Indian skipper managed 321 catches in 345 innings as a keeper.
Brendon McCullum changed the way we played T20 cricket. His explosive batting paved the way for blackcap’s dominance. He made a name for himself as a white-ball specialist and fielded in the outfields towards the latter half of his career.
However, several pundits still remember him for his natural talent as a wicket-keeper. Often rated as the most gifted wicket-keeper of the 21st century, McCullum was famous for his diving catches. His technique made him one of the best keepers of his time. Though he played most of his crickets on pace-friendly New Zealand wickets, he was equally friendly on slow spinning tracks as well. He took 227 catches in ODI’s in 183 innings and is 5th on the list of wicket-keepers with maximum catches. Had he not change his fielding position in the latter half of his career, he would definitely be much higher on the list.
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