Wicketkeepers are an integral part of cricket, without whom the game cannot proceed further. Just as the sport demands specialist batsmen and bowlers, a genuine wicketkeeper is also a must, who can grab everything with perfection that comes his way. Teams can afford to have an impeccable keeper with not much batting skills but the vice-versa certainly can’t be thought of in this competitive world of cricket. A supreme gloveman can win his side half of its matches, given that he picks all the edges and also inflicts a few stumpings. Thus, world-beaters prioritize incorporating the best keeper-batsman in the country and playing him ahead of all the others.
In recent times, we have often seen players lacking one or the other skill. For instance, a quality batsman might be untidy behind the stumps or an excellent keeper batting even worse than a tail-ender. For someone to be perfect in both the skills is rare and certainly calls for adulation and nurturing of that player. This rarity was on display in the players of yesteryears, who were both a wonderful batsman and a specialist keeper. In the below piece, we look at 5 such keeper-batsman, who scored more than 2000 runs and took 100 plus catches in ODI cricket:
1. Alec Stewart
An aggressive batsman and immaculate keeper behind the stumps, Stewart dominated the game for the large part of the 90s. It is this perfection that also earned him a captaincy stint with England, getting an opportunity to lead the country at the highest level.
Towards the end of his career, Stewart played the finisher’s role for England, propelling them to daunting totals on the board. It would be safe to say that Stewart was the one to initiate the trend of attacking wicketkeeper-batsman, who took the game by storm and carved a niche for themselves.
Stewart has scored 4677 runs from 170 games at an average of 31.60 and took 159 catches in his career.
2. Moin Khan
The former captain and head coach of the Pakistan cricket team, Khan belonged to that category of keepers, who were the team’s best bet with the bat but sadly untidy behind the stumps.
Inspite of not being the best of keepers going around, Khan kept his place and with time and experience rectified his flaws and turned into the masterful keeper his country had ever seen.
Just like every other player, Khan too faced a slump in form during the early 2000s and had to lose his place to rising talent, Kamran Akmal. That didn’t lower his confidence even by an inch and Khan piled up runs in the domestic circuit during the last few years of his cricketing career.
Khan has mustered 3266 runs from 219 games at an average of 23 and grabbed 214 catches.
3. Andy Flower
The eldest of the Flower siblings, Andy was the best keeper-batsman Zimbabwe cricket had ever produced. His international journey started with a century on debut and that itself was a huge indication of things to follow for him n the African nation.
There wasn’t any flaw that could be highlighted in his decade long cricketing career. In fact, former cricketers and pundits are of the view that Flower could have procured even more success and hogged the limelight had he not been part of the Zimbabwean set-up.
Post-retirement, his coaching stint with England is well documented, who achieved tremendous success under his guidance. Andy has smashed 6786 runs from 213 games at an average of 35.35 and took 141 catches as a keeper.
4. Adam Gilchrist
A daredevil batsman, an agile keeper and path-breaking leader, Gilchrist had all the qualities in him to be rated as the best cricketer, the Australian team had witnessed in a long while.
Be it opening the innings or batting in the middle order, Gilchrist fulfilled the responsibility with aplomb and thus, was his captain’s trusted assassin. Apart from the batting, he was lightning quick behind the stumps, inflicting split-second stumpings and either diving low or leaping high in the air to catch out important batsmen.
Gilchrist has plundered 9619 runs from 287 games at an average of 35.89 and grabbed 417 catches.
5. Mark Boucher
What Gilchrist was to Australia, Boucher was the same to South Africa. The current coach of the Proteas was an impenetrable barrier behind the wicket. Rarely did we see the ball escaping from his grasp or the man making a meal out of the regulation ones
His batting, lower down the order was another added benefit, who could single-handedly win matches for his country from improbable scenarios. The present all-formats captain of the African team, de Kock possesses some qualities which remind us of the great cricketer and may well end up surpassing his records, leading the nation towards new glory.
Boucher has amassed 4686 runs from 295 games at an average of 28.57 and took 403 catches in his long career.