Top 5 wicket-keeper catches of all time
The wicket-keeper is almost always the most agile player in the team; due to the nature of the job, it is impossible to be a decent wicket-keeper without being quick and athletic.
Over the years, wicket-keepers have used their innate athleticism to take plenty of spectacular catches behind the stumps. Their gloves also give them a distinct advantage with respect to the possibilities of pulling off catches that might seem impossible for a regular fielder.
Among the hundreds of high-class catches that have been taken by wicket-keepers over the years across formats, here is a list of 5 of the very best that stand out.
#5 Mark Boucher's catch to dismiss Tendulkar, July 2007
South African wicket-keeper Mark Boucher was one of the finest wicket-keepers of the past few decades and in a career that lasted almost 15 years, he took plenty of incredible catches. And the one he took to dismiss Indian ace Sachin Tendulkar in an ODI in Belfast in 2007 perhaps stands tallest among them all.
India were chasing a small target and South Africa needed early wickets when Boucher produced the stellar catch on the last delivery of the second over.
Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini bowled one on off stump and as Tendulkar pushed at it, the ball flying towards first slip. However, Boucher flung himself full length and caught the ball even when the first slip fielder was shaping up to catch it.
It remains one of the most brilliant exhibitions of agility, anticipation and raw reflexes that the cricket world has ever seen.
#4 Adam Gilchrist pulls off a stunner in Sharjah, 1998
This game will forever be known as the 'desert storm' game in which Sachin Tendulkar took the Australians to the cleaners to help India quality for the final. However, amidst all that carnage, Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist pulled off one of the greatest catches in history; perhaps that catch has not got its due because of the overwhelming memory of Tendulkar's masterful innings.
Ajay Jadeja had cut a delivery from Steve Waugh a little too fine in the 29th over of the 2nd innings, and it looked like it would go for four since there were no slips. But what could have been a difficult catch for first slip (Jadeja had connected well) was seemingly plucked out of thin air by a flying Gilchrist to complete one of the most stunning catches ever seen.
There was 'four' written all over the shot, but Gilchrist's timing of the leap and athleticism ensured that Jadeja was not able to get away with his ill-fated cut shot.
#3 Jeff Dujon v England, 1986
While facing up to the West Indian quicks of the 1980s must have been a nightmare for most batsmen, it can be safely assumed that it was an equally daunting task for a wicket-keeper to cover for those lightning quick bowlers. In that regard, Jeff Dujon, who kept wickets for the West Indies for a decade and took plenty of remarkable catches, deserves special mention.
The one catch of Dujon's that stands out was his dismissal of England star opener Graham Gooch in the 1986 series in the Caribbean. Gooch had played a well-timed leg glance off fast bowler Pat Patterson that seemed to be headed for the boundary, but Dujon sprung to his left to send back the opposition's best batsman.
Gooch did not do much wrong, except hitting the ball straight into the brick wall that was Jeff Dujon.
#2 Alan Knott v West India, 1980
Englishman Alan Knott is often described as one of the greatest wicket-keepers to have ever played the game. And one of his greatest strengths was his raw reflexes that allowed him to pull off stunning catches regularly.
During the England-West Indies Test series that took place in England back in 1980, Knott conjured a catch that will definitely go down in history as one of the greatest taken by a wicket-keeper. What makes it so special is not only the leap that he took in order to reach the ball, but also the fact that he caught it with both hands even after diving to his left - which speaks volumes about his sheer speed.
Wicket-keepers might be more comfortable with diving either way with one outstretched hand, but there remains an element of risk of the ball popping out. Knott wasn't going to take any chances though, and ensured that he pouched a seemingly impossible catch with remarkable ease.
#1 Rodney Marsh stunner in the World Cup semi-final, 1975
Arguably the greatest catch by a wicket-keeper in cricket history was taken by Australia's legendary wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh in the World Cup semi-final of 1975. What makes this so memorable is the difficulty involved in pulling it off and of course, the small matter of the game being a World Cup semi-final against his team's arch rivals.
The bowler, Gary Gilmour, was left-handed, which would have made it difficult for Marsh to follow the entire path of the ball. But even though Marsh might have lost the ball for a millisecond while it reached the batsman, he was still able to dive to his right and take the catch that was meant for first slip.
It would be hard to find a better catch than this one.