Australia has produced some of the greatest cricketers – and glovesmen – of all time.
Keeping wickets is probably, the most demanding and challenging role in the game of cricket. The role requires a special skill and is something that can’t be donned by anyone. A wicket-keeper always needs to on his toes so as to grab each and every opportunity that comes his way. It also requires immense physical stamina, especially in the longer formats, as the keepers stay in the squatted position for most of the game.
Over the years, the game of cricket has witnessed some of the greatest wicket-keepers who have buckets for hands and arms swifter than robots. Australia too has been supplying the sport with quality keepers who never let the batsmen breathe easily.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the top wicket-keepers from the land of Kangaroo.
Wallace Grout was an Australian cricketer who hailed from the state of Queensland. He was a talented wicket-keeper and managed the role for both his state team and the national side. Interestingly, Grout set a world record by taking 8 catches in an innings in a Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia in 1960.
Grout was a swift mover behind the stumps who made life tough for the batsmen. He was agile, acrobatic, and rarely let anything go through his hands. In fact, Grout was hailed by Sir Don Bradman as one of the finest wicket-keepers of all-time.
Rob Simpson, too, stated that Grout was the greatest keeper he ever saw.
Grout played 183 first-class games for Queensland and ended up with 473 catches and 114 stumpings to his name. He debuted for Australia in 1957 against South Africa during which he took a record 6 catches in an innings.
The right-handed batsman went to play in 51 Test matches, and has 187 dismissals to his credit with 163 of them catches and the remaining 24 stumpings.
A true fighter in each aspect of the game, Rodney Marsh is regarded as one of the best wicket-keepers of all time. Born in Western Australia, Marsh went on to set a then world-record tally of 355 international dismissals.
Even though he was initially criticised for his sloppy glove-work, Marsh kept on honing his skills and ended up as a fine wicket-keeper. He shared a fruitful partnership with the fast bowler Dennis Lillee, a partnership that resulted in 95 dismissals.
Marsh was nimble-footed and was an excellent judge of the deliveries trajectories. He was an agile mover behind the stumps and had a safe pair of hands. The Western Australian was a useful batsman who scored three centuries coming down the order.
He represented Western Australia in 257 first-class games and accounted for 803 catches and 66 stumpings. He made his Test debut for Australia in 1970 against England and played 96 Test matches before retiring.
Marsh ended his Test career with a superb tally of 343 catches and 12 stumpings.
Ian Healy will go down as one of the finest wicket-keepers in the history of the game. He was a vital cog in the Australian team and is widely renowned for his work ethic.
Born in Queensland, he burst onto the international after playing just 6 first-class games. He was also an able batsman who scored many crucial runs for his teams.
tAt the time of his retirement, he held the record for most number of dismissals by a wicket-keeper overtaking Rod Marsh.
He was very strict with his gloves and rarely let anything go through. Healy is famously remembered his cry of “Bowling, Warnie!!” while keeping wickets to the leggie. In his 231 first-class appearances for Queensland, the right-handed batsman accounted for 698 catches and 69 stumpings.
He debuted for Australia against Pakistan in 1988 and represented the Kangaroos in 119 Tests. He ended with a breathtaking tally of 366 catches and 29 stumpings.
A name that needs no introduction, Adam Gilchrist is probably the finest keeper to have played for the Aussies. The southpaw, who was born in Western Australia, holds the record for the most number of dismissals by an Australian wicket-keeper. Gilly, as he is famously known, was a prominent member of the dominant Australian side of the late 90s and early 2000s.
Gilchrist was brilliant behind the stumps- he was quick, agile, and athletic. He possessed a safe pair of hands and was even swift to stump the batsmen out whenever an opportunity presented itself. Apart from his wicket-keeping skills, Gilchrist was an explosive opening batsman as well. The swashbuckling batsman was one of the most destructive batsmen of the modern era and struck terror in the spines of the bowlers.
In his 190 first-class appearances, Gilchrist took 756 catches and made 55 stumpings. He made his Test debut for Australia against Pakistan in 1999. He played 96 Tests for the Aussies and ended up accounting for 379 catches and 37 stumpings.
Currently, after Mark Boucher, Adam Gilchrist is the second most successful wicket-keeper in the world.
Brad Haddin is easily one of the most popular wicket-keepers from Australia. Tough, gritty, and uncompromising, Haddin stood as a true testament to the typical Australian cricketer. Born in New South Wales, Haddin saw his career overshadowed by the looming presence of his predecessor Adam Gilchrist.
However, after Gilchrist’s retirement, it was Haddin who took over the gloves and quickly rose up the ranks to emerge as the national Test side’s vice-captain.
The New South Wales native was a swift mover behind the stumps. He had quick hands and was a natural athlete. Keeping to the likes of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, and Mitchell Johnson in their prime was no joke but Haddin seemed to pull it off with ease. He was also constantly at the batsman and never backed away from saying a word or two.
The right-hander was more than a capable batsman lower down the order. He played many crucial knocks and bailed out the team on many occasions. His role, with both the bat and the gloves, in Australia’s clean sweep of the 2013-14 Ashes was a pivotal one.
Haddin represented New South Wales in 184 first-class games and was credited for as many as 608 catches and 40 stumpings. His Test debut for Australia came in 2008, and he went on to play 66 Test matches. Haddin has 270 international Test dismissals that consist of 262 catches and 8 stumpings.