In cricket, wicketkeeping is a skill that only a few players are comfortable with, as it is challenging. The baggage can get even tougher when a wicketkeeper is also a skipper. A captain who is also a wicketkeeper must administer the bowling changes and field placements; he needs to be in sync with his teammates on the field.
Relevant Read: The Testing role of a Wicketkeeper in T20s
The cricketing world has witnessed wicketkeepers who were sharp and clever as captains. This piece will discuss ten wicketkeepers who were also prudent leaders – the few with different skill sets and had the awareness to take gutsy yet clever decisions.
They highlighted their calibre behind the stumps with fine wicketkeeping skills and showcased a determined attitude to lead their side. They exhibited tremendous temperament while handling both responsibilities, thus winning some major tournaments with their captaincy.
Talking about wicketkeeping, here are the best wicketkeeping pads you can buy online!
Back to topic, following are the ten best wicketkeeper-captains of all time!
#10 Alec Stewart (England)
Undoubtedly one of the best wicketkeepers in terms of his awareness behind the stumps; Stewart showcased neat footwork. Additionally, the right-handed batsmen in him looked technically strong. He was a handy batter in the middle order who played some fine match-winning knocks.
The former wicketkeeper-batsman also displayed decent leadership capabilities. He won England 4 Tests for England as captain losing 8 and drawing 3. In 41 ODIs as skipper, Stewart won 15 and lost 25. The former wicketkeeper has 277 dismissals in 133 Tests and 174 dismissals in 170 ODIs.
#9 Andy Flower (Zimbabwe)
Undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in Zimbabwe’s cricketing history, Andy Flower could perform under pressure with his tough temperament. The former wicketkeeper-batsman showcased tremendous consistency with his neat glove work and collection. The left-hander is Zimbabwe’s all-time highest run scorer in Tests and ODIs.
And it was apparent in the very ODI game he played.
The elder Flower brother leads Zimbabwe in 10 Tests, winning just 1 Test. In 35 ODIs as a skipper, he won 12 ODIs. The former wicketkeeper-batsman was a smart thinker. In 63 Tests, the left-hander registered 160 dismissals as a wicketkeeper and 173 in 213 ODIs. Flower always displayed a smart aptitude for foxing the batsman with some smart stumpings.
#8 Ian Healy (Australia)
One of the most technically-rich wicketkeepers of 1990s, Ian Healy was tidy behind the stumps with his clever understanding and his gifted footwork in terms of collection. The former wicketkeeper-batsman captained Australia in 8 ODIs, winning 5 and losing 3. His win percentage is 87% in ODIs as captain, which is quite impressive.
Healy has this knack for reading the conditions well and guiding the bowlers accordingly. The former wicketkeeper-batsman never captained Australia in Tests. Healy also took the advice of senior bowlers during field restrictions. In 119 Tests, Healy registered 395 dismissals, while in 168 ODIs, the former wicketkeeper-batsman registered 233 dismissals.
#7 Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)
Mushfiqur Rahim is amongst the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the history of Bangladesh Cricket. The wicketkeeper-batsman has played some wonderful knocks with the bat, and as a keeper, he has been one of the quickest behind the stumps.
And he is the highest double century scorer for his side in Tests!
The wicketkeeper-batsman has looked gutsy as a captain while making crucial bowling changes. He coordinated well with his senior players while making important decisions regarding field placements and discussing batting orders. Rahim has won 7 Tests as captain, losing 18 and drawing 9, while leading the side in 30 Tests and winning 11 ODIs in 37 ODIs as skipper, losing 24 and drawing 2. In 23 T20Is, Rahim won 8 matches as captain, losing 14 and drawing 1. He has registered 122 dismissals in Test cricket, 254 in ODI cricket, and 72 in T20Is.
#6 Moin Khan (Pakistan)
Moin Khan had to compete with Rashid Latif for a place in the playing XI. From the selectors’ perspective, Moin Khan was a better batsman, but Latif was sharper behind the stumps as a wicketkeeper. The former wicketkeeper-batsman adjusted his technique on bouncy wickets and turning wickets smartly. Moin captained Pakistan in 13 Tests, winning 4.
We even have him in the greatest Pakistani Test XI of all time!
His biggest strength was his rapport with the senior players, whom he always turned to during bowling changes. The former wicketkeeper-batsman won 20 ODIs as skipper in 34 ODIs. He had the understanding to change his bowlers immediately if a bowler gave away too many runs. In 69 Tests, Moin registered 148 dismissals, while in 219 ODIs, he registered 287 dismissals as a wicketkeeper.
#5 Sarfaraz Ahmed (Pakistan)
Although the 35-year-old was criticised for his inability to take tough decisions, Sarfaraz hasn’t done badly as a skipper. The wicketkeeper-batsman won 28 ODIs in 56 limited-overs games that he captained, losing 20. He won 11 back-to-back T20I series, a record in itself. Under him, Pakistan won 8 consecutive T20 games. In his Test career as skipper, Sarfaraz won 4 out of 13 Tests and lost 8 with a win percentage of 30%. In 37 T20Is, as captain, the right-hander won 29 T20Is as skipper and lost 8 with a win percentage of 78%.
Sarfaraz was gutsy in taking tough decisions when it came to team selection as well as field placements. In 51 Tests, the wicketkeeper-batsman registered 172 dismissals, while in 117 ODIs, Sarfaraz registered 143 dismissals as wicket keeper. Under his captaincy, Pakistan won the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England.
#4 Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
Like his batting, McCullum was charismatic with his captaincy and ability to take tough decisions even when it seemed the team was performing below par. The former wicketkeeper-batsman backed his bowlers even during their bad phases. McCullum’s bowling changes and clever field placements in sub-continent conditions highlighted his class as a fine thinker.
And he is part of our greatest Test XI of all time!
Behind the stumps, McCullum was great with glove work in tough weather conditions and wickets that aided uneven seam movements in New Zealand. McCullum won 11 matches, lost 9, and drew 11 as captain in his Test career. McCullum captained the Kiwis in 56 ODIs with a win percentage of 59.43%. In 28 T20Is as captain, McCullum won 13, lost 14, and 1 match ended in no result. McCullum’s never say die attitude as a captain greatly aided New Zealand cricket. In 101 Tests, McCullum registered 209 dismissals, while in 260 ODIs, the former Kiwi skipper registered 277 dismissals.
#3 Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
When Adam Gilchrist played under Ricky Ponting, many would say that the wicketkeeper-batsman could be more successful as a skipper than Ponting. The former wicketkeeper-batsman showed tremendous awareness when it came to identifying errors his bowlers made and accordingly rectified them by coordinating with them. He read a particular situation quite well and used all his experience to set the field accordingly.
Gilchrist’s wicketkeeping was always admired, but his captaincy was also valuable. The former wicketkeeper-batsman won 4 Tests as skipper, lost 1, and drew 1 in 6 Tests as captain. In 17 ODIs, as skipper, the former opener won 12 ODIs as skipper lost 4, and 1 ended in no result. In 2 T20Is, Gilchrist won 1 match and lost 1. His clever captaincy skills were also visible in the IPL, where he won the title for Deccan Chargers in 2009 while leading the side. In 96 Tests, Gilchrist registered 416 dismissals, while in 287 ODIs, he registered 472 dismissals.
Check where Gilly stands in the ODI wicketkeeper numbers here!
#2 Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
One of the finest wicketkeeper-batsman of all time in Sri Lankan and International cricket, Sangakkara has been an inspiring figure for the next generation of Sri Lankan youth. The left-hander was a class batsman, but as a skipper, he was a combination of determination, clever aptitude, and aggression. The former skipper always supported his bowlers when it came to field placements.
He was a wily operator when it came to identifying the weaknesses of the opposition batsmen and advised his bowlers to bowl accordingly. His ability to read the situation and rectify his team’s mistakes helped Sri Lankan cricket in a big way. When picking the right combinations, he always took the advice of senior pros like Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, etc.
The former left-hander won 5 matches in 15 Tests, lost 3, and drew 7 as a skipper. In 45 ODIs as captain, Sangakkara won 27, lost 14, and 4 ended in no result. In 21 T20Is as captain, Sangakkara won 12 and lost 9 T20Is. He registered 202 dismissals in 134 Tests as a wicketkeeper, while in 402 ODIs, Sangakkara registered 501 dismissals.
Check here how Sanga’s wicketkeeping matched the great Adam Gilchrist, both technically and statistically here!
#1 MS Dhoni (India)
“Captain Cool,” as he was fondly called during his playing career, Dhoni inspired millions of youngsters in India that even individuals from small cities and villages can make it big in any field they work hard. The wicketkeeper-batsman always helped the younger players. He was a captain who discussed thoughts with juniors. His calm temperament helped him and India sail through challenging situations. His out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to bowling changes and filed placements yielded positive results most of the time.
We have accumulated 47 cricketing records MSD holds till date! Read it along!
His ability to read the playing conditions and the nature of the wickets was quite amazing. Dhoni has this awareness to identify the opposition’s weakness when finding faults in a batsman’s technique and guiding his bowlers to bowl accordingly. He was the bowlers’ captain, who trusted his bowlers’ ability to bowl as per their strengths.
In 60 Tests as captain, the former wicketkeeper-batsman won 27 matches, lost 18, and drew 15 with a win percentage of 45%. In 199 ODIs, Dhoni won 110 ODIs, lost 74, 4 were tied, and 11 ended in no result with a win percentage of 55.27%. In 72 T20Is, the right-hander won 41 as captain, lost 28, tied 2, and 1 ended in no result with a win percentage of 56.90. Dhoni has led Chennai Super Kings to 4 IPL titles as a skipper. In 90 Tests, Dhoni registered 294 dismissals, and in 350 ODIs, he registered 444 dismissals.
Also read: Few Scintillating Wicketkeeper Records