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It’s one of the most important positions within a cricket team but who is ranked among the best wicket keepers of the past and present in international cricket?
Who is the Best Wicket Keeper in the World?
Statistically, Australia’s Adam Gilchrist has been the best wicket keeper in cricket’s long history. He played 396 games across all three major formats and by the time he retired, he had claimed 905 victims.
Those catches and stumpings equate to the highest ratio of dismissals per game than any of Gilchrist’s competitors.
12 Best Wicket Keepers in Cricket
There are a number of factors to take into account when compiling the list of best keepers. While it helps if they can bat, we’re really focusing on their glovework here.
The number of dismissals is the main element that determines the rankings. It’s also important to consider the figures over all forms of international cricket – limited overs games and test cricket.
1. Adam Gilchrist
While many still consider him to be a batsman who kept wicket, Adam Gilchrist’s contributions with the gloves are quite stunning. With both catches and stumpings taken into account when compiling this list, the Australian claimed 905 dismissals in 396 games across the three formats.
There is one player on this list with more wicket keeping victims in international cricket, but he took far more games to reach his own landmarks. With a ratio of around three dismissals per game, Adam Gilchrist is the best of all time.
While he had to wait behind Ian Healy for his chance in the test arena, it should be remembered that Gilchrist was Australia’s first choice ODI best wicketkeeper from around 1996. That gave him plenty of time over a 12-year career to soar to the top of this list.
2. Mark Boucher
A wicket keeper foremost, Mark Boucher contributed with the bat at times but he made the gloves his own across a long international career with South Africa. Numerically, Boucher has the most victims on this list with 998 dismissals. However, it took him 467 games to get to that level, so a lower ratio puts him just behind Adam Gilchrist.
Boucher would surely have been the first man to get to 1,000 wicket keeping dismissals in international cricket but a freak eye injury in a tour match brought a premature end to his career.
He was reliable and rarely missed a chance from his debut in 1997, all the way through to his final game in 2012.
3. Kumar Sangakkara
A stylish left handed batter, Kumar Sangakkara gave up the gloves later on in his career. Had he not done so, his wicket keeping stats would have been even better. As it is, the Sri Lankan notched up 678 dismissals in 594 matches and it’s certainly worth remembering that he would have played a number of those games as a batsman only.
Sangakkara left the game after claiming 678 dismissals in 594 matches for his country. A long career which spanned from 2000 to 2015 would have coincided with that of Sri Lanka’s greatest ever spinner – Muttiah Muralitharan. Keeping to Murali would have tested any player and it’s therefore worth noting that 139 of Sangakkara’s victims were stumped.
4. MS Dhoni – The No1 Indian Wicket Keeper
A great servant to Indian cricket as a captain, batsman and wicket keeper, India’s MS Dhoni has an impressive list of dismissals across all three forms of the game. In pure numerical terms, Dhoni is the third most successful keeper of all time with 829 dismissals from 538 matches.
Like Sangakkara, MSD would have been equally comfortable standing back to the faster men or getting up to the stumps to aid key spinners such as R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh. No fewer than 195 of Dhoni’s international victims came via stumpings and I think that’s a pretty remarkable statistic.
5. Ian Healy
While he wasn’t the best batter among his fellow glovemen, Ian Healy was such a reliable wicket keeper that he kept Adam Gilchrist out of the Australian test side for many years. In just 287 games for his country, Healy claimed a highly impressive 628 victims.
While he will largely be remembered for his work in test cricket, Ian Healy was so highly thought of as a stumper that he kept Gilchrist, and others, out of the ODI team for longer than many would have expected. Healy played in 168 One Day Internationals and 233 of his victims came in this format.
6. Brad Haddin
Australia’s long legacy of top class wicket keepers was carried on by Brad Haddin who featured for his country between 2001 and 2015. He left the game with 474 victims across all three formats – exactly the same as the man below him on this list.
Haddin’s dismissals came from fewer games, 226 in total, and that means that he ranks more highly. He was a battling batsman in the Ian Healy mode and, like other players, his efforts with the gloves can often be overlooked as a result.
7. Jeff Dujon
Jeff Dujon had to keep to a fearsome battery of West Indian pace bowlers and he had to be special in order to cope with that kind of speed and bounce. In 250 matches for his country across two formats, Dujon retired from the game with an impressive list of 474 victims.
It’s worth remembering that the West Indies relied almost exclusively on pace bowling in the time that Dujon played from 1981 to 1991. Therefore, the majority of his victims were caught behind the wicket but he did manage to claim 26 stumpings, 21 of which came in ODIs.
But he will always be remembered for his agility in catching those fast-flying edges. In fact, Jeff Dujon is in sixth place in the overall test match list at the time of writing with 270 victims as a keeper – 265 of which were caught.
8. Quinton De Kock
Another player to successfully take on the role of a wicket keeper batsman, Quinton De Kock retired from test matches in 2022 but he still has time to move through this list via the limited overs formats.
At the time of writing in May 2022, De Kock had played in 244 international matches across the three established formats. In that time, he had claimed 481 dismissals and that’s an impressive return. The vast majority of those victims were caught but the statistics may underline the suggestion that Quinton de Kock might just be one of the most underrated wicket keepers of the modern era.
9. Brendon McCullum
New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum was another player who gave up the gloves later in his career to concentrate on his batting. It may well have extended his playing days by a few years but it’s true that the national side lost a very good wicket keeper at that point.
In total, McCullum played 442 times for the Kiwis across the 3 formats before he retired in 2016. He claimed 530 victims in that period and, while not all of his catches would have been taken behind the wicket, that’s still an impressive return.
Brendon McCullum will always be remembered as an explosive batter but let’s not forget that he was a record breaking wicket keeper for New Zealand and one of the best of all time.
10. Denesh Ramdin
A very capable wicket keeper for the West Indies over a number of years, Denesh Ramdin played with a more varied attack than some of his predecessors. The pace bowling batteries of the past had retired but Ramdin’s record against seam and spin remains an impressive one.
Ramdin played in 284 matches for the Windies in the three cricketing formats. In that time, he took 468 dismissals. At a time when West Indian cricket was in a state of transition with a number of changes being made, Denesh Ramdin was a consistent figure in the side and one of the most reliable wicket keepers that his team had ever had.
11. Rishabh Pant
One of the best wicket keepers in the modern game, Rishabh Pant’s dashing batting style can sometimes mask his capabilities behind the stumps. He has quickly become the man to succeed MS Dhoni in taking over keeping duties in all three formats.
When he headed to the IPL in 2022, Pant had played 97 matches across Tests, ODIs and T20is. In that time, he had taken 158 dismissals. He’ll turn 25 in 2022 so Rishabh Pant has plenty of time left to climb this list.
12. Moin Khan
The only representative from Pakistan on this list, Moin Khan also had to deal with a lot of varied bowling during his career. His country is known for producing great pacemen, fiendish swing bowlers and crafty spinners. Moin dealt with them all and he returned some excellent wicket keeping statistics across his career.
He played 288 games for Pakistani national cricket team in two formats – Tests and ODIs – and he claimed 435 dismissals. Keeping to the likes of Wasim Akram, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar and many others, means that those numbers are seriously impressive.
What Makes a Great Wicket Keeper?
It’s important just to focus on the qualities needed to keep wicket here. Many teams are looking for a player who can bat and, at times, the ability to catch and take stumpings behind the wicket can be overlooked,
In pure wicket keeping terms, the simple job is to catch the ball and not miss a stumping. Catches behind the wicket are generally thought of as being ‘routine’ and it can be demoralising for a bowler, and the team as a whole, if a chance goes down.
A wicket keeper must also be able to cope with a varied attack which will include pace, swing, seam and spin. As you will have noted while working through this list, many of the names on here have had to deal with the greatest bowlers of all time. Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Michael Holding and others, have tested the world’s best batters and they have needed solid wicket keeping support along the way.
Key fitness drills will also help to effectively maintain a wicket keeper as they work through their career. As anyone who isn’t used to this fielding position will testify, crouching in that low position for every ball creates great stress on the calves and other muscles. Check out some of my fitness drills from earlier articles,
Wicket keepers are often referred to as the ‘heartbeat’ of any team. They are noisy, always encouraging the bowlers and their teammates around them. It’s a job with many sides to it but ultimately, it’s about taking those catches and stumpings. Statistics will define a great wicket keeper and the names on this list are the best of all time.