Arvind Iyengar

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The Greatest Wicketkeeper Batsmen of All Time

Matt Prior has
been a major difference maker in the India-England Test series so far. He's
also the best wicketkeeper batsman in the world right now - that shouldn't be a
debate based on current form. But how does he compare against the greatest of
all time?

A first look at
the stats suggests he's up there amongst the top three of all time. Note - these
numbers are based on averages of batsmen when they've played as wicketkeepers
only, not when they've played as specialist batsmen.

 

Rank

Player

Mat

Runs

Avg

100s

RPI

1

A Flower (Zim)

55

4404

53.7

12

44.04

2

AC Gilchrist (Aus)

96

5570

47.6

17

40.66

3

MJ Prior (Eng)

45

2526

45.1

6

37.15

4

LEG Ames (Eng)

44

2387

43.4

8

35.63

5

KC Sangakkara (SL)

48

3117

40.48

7

38.48

6

BJ Haddin (Aus)

32

1905

39.68

3

35.28

7

MS Dhoni (India)

59

3071

37.45

4

33.75

8

AJ Stewart (Eng)

82

4540

34.92

6

31.31

9

BB McCullum (NZ)

51

2782

34.77

5

32.73

10

APE Knott (Eng)

95

4389

32.75

5

29.46

 

The last column
is runs per innings (RPI), which discounts the impact of not outs. It indicates
that Sangakkara fares much better, and even above Prior, because the Sri Lankan
batted higher in the order and had fewer not outs than most other keepers in
this list. Still, the list shows Prior is pretty darn good, well ahead of the
likes of Stewart, McCullum and Knott in terms of batting.

Here's a closer
look at Prior's big scores, to understand the context in which he scored them.

 

S No

Runs

Opposition

Ground

Result

Team Score

Other Innings top
scorers

1

131*

West Indies

Port of Spain

Draw

546/6 dec

Strauss 142,
Collingwood 161

2

126*

West Indies

Lord's

Draw

553/5 dec

Collingwood 111, Bell
109*, Cook 105

3

126

Sri Lanka

Lord's

Draw

486/10

Cook 96, Morgan 79

4

118

Australia

Sydney

Win

644/10

Cook 189, Bell 115

5

103*

India

Lord's

Win

269/6

Broad 74*

6

102*

Pakistan

Nottingham

Win

262/9

Swann 28

7

93

Bangladesh

Manchester

Win

419/10

Bell 128

8

85

Australia

Melbourne

Win

513/10

Trott 168*

9

84*

Pakistan

The Oval

Loss

233/10

Broad 48

10

79

Sri Lanka

Colombo

Draw

351/10

Vaughan 87,
Cook 81

 

The last column,
‘other innings top scorers' indicate the other English batsmen who got runs in
the same innings. The rows highlighted above are what I reckon to be Prior's
truly great performances in trying circumstances. The top four scores came on
fairly flat tracks where a lot of the batsmen got in the runs. His 103* versus
India and 102* versus Pakistan were similar knocks - both came in the second
innings with England trying on build on a 170-190 runs lead, but dropping to
about 100 for 6.

 

In that context, both innings were vital counterattacking knocks
that drove home England's
advantage in the match and ultimately resulted in comfortable victories. His
84* against a potent Pakistani attack at the Oval might be his best innings,
and came when England
were 94 for 7.

The overall
analysis - Prior might be a bit of a flat track bully with his top four scores
coming on pitches where England had already gotten major contributions from
other batsmen. At the same time, he does have a few truly distinctive knocks
that have stood out - innings that guys like Gilchrist and Andy Flower were
known for.

 

If he gets a few more big scores, Prior could definitely be in the running
for the greatest keeper-batsmen of all time. Right now though, he's a distant
third or fourth at best. One thing is for sure though - he's been a lot better
than MS Dhoni in this series, which has been a big reason why England is 2-0
up in the series.

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