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A wicket-keeper in characteristic squatting position, ready to face a delivery. This keeper is positioned close to the wicket, for a slow pace bowler or spin bowler
A pair of wicket-keeping gloves. The webbing which helps the keeper to catch the ball can be seen between the thumb and index fingers.

The wicket-keeper in the sport of cricket is the player on the fielding side who stands behind the wicket or stumps being guarded by the batsman currently on strike. The wicket-keeper is the only member of the fielding side permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards.[1] The wicket-keeper may also wear a helmet with a mesh face guard to help protect from injury.[2]

It is essentially a specialist role. The role of the keeper is governed by Law 40 of the Laws of Cricket.[1]

Adam Gilchrist of Australia standing up to the stumps against England during the fourth test of the 2005 Ashes series in England.


Initially, during the bowling of the ball the wicket-keeper crouches in a full squatting position but partly stands up as the ball is received. Australian wicket-keeper Sammy Carter (1878 to 1948) was the first to squat on his haunches rather than bend over from the waist (stooping).[3]


The keeper's major function is to stop deliveries that pass the batsman (in order to prevent runs being scored as 'byes'), but he can also attempt to dismiss the batsman in various ways:

  • The most common dismissal effected by the keeper is for him to catch a ball that has nicked the batsman's bat, called an edge, before it bounces. Sometimes the keeper is also in the best position to catch a ball which has been hit high in the air. More catches are taken by wicket-keepers than by any other fielding position.
  • The keeper can stump the batsman by using the ball to remove the bails from the stumps, if the batsman is out of his crease after a delivery has passed the stumps into keeper's hands. The keeper must then dislodge the bail(s) and the batsman is out, if he is still outside the crease.
  • When the ball is hit into the outfield, the keeper moves close to the stumps to catch the return throw from a fielder and, if possible, to run out a batsman.

A keeper's position depends on the bowler: for fast bowling he will squat some distance from the stumps, in order to have time to react to edges from the batsman, while for slower bowling, he will come much nearer to the stumps (known as "standing up"), to pressure the batsman into remaining within the crease or risk being stumped. The more skilled the keeper, the faster the bowling to which he is able to "stand up", for instance Godfrey Evans often stood up to Alec Bedser.[4]

Legal specifications of wicket-keeping gloves[edit]

Wicket keeping gloves along with the inner gloves

Law 40.2, which deals with the specifications for wicketkeepers' gloves, states that: If,.... the wicket-keeper wears gloves, they shall have no webbing between the fingers except joining index finger and thumb, where webbing may be inserted as a means of support. If used, the webbing shall be:

(a) a single piece of non-stretch material which, although it may have facing material attached, shall have no reinforcements or tucks.

(b) such that the top edge of the webbing-

(i) does not protrude beyond the straight line joining the top of the index finger to the top of the thumb.

(ii) is taut when a hand wearing the glove has the thumb fully extended.[5]


According to Law 2 of the Laws of Cricket, a substitute (taking the place of an ill or injured player) may not keep wicket.[6]

This rule is sometimes suspended, by agreement with the captain of the batting side, although Law 2 does not provide for such agreement to be made. For example, during the England–New Zealand Test Match at Lord's in 1986, England's specialist keeper, Bruce French was injured during England's first innings. England then used 4 keepers in New Zealand's first innings: Bill Athey kept for the first two overs; 45-year-old veteran Bob Taylor was pulled out of the sponsor's tent to keep, immaculately, for overs 3 to 76; Bobby Parks, the Hampshire keeper, was called up for overs 77 to 140; and Bruce French kept wicket for the final ball of the innings.[7]

Occasional wicket-keepers[edit]

Occasional wicket-keepers are players that usually play in other roles but sometimes keep wicket. John Wisden was described as an occasional wicket-keeper.[8] Other players who have been described as occasional wicket-keepers include Ambati Rayudu,[9] Lokesh Rahul,[10] Johnson Charles,[11] Peter Handscomb,[12] Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lendl Simmons, Rahul Dravid, Marcus Trescothick , Eoin Morgan and Everton Weekes.

Playing without a wicket-keeper[edit]

There is no rule stating a team must play a wicket-keeper.[13] On 5 June 2015 during a T20 Blast game between the Worcestershire Rapids and the Northamptonshire Steelbacks, Worcestershire chose not to play a wicket-keeper in the 16th over of the match.[14] Their keeper, Ben Cox, became an extra fielder at fly slip while spinner Moeen Ali bowled.[14] The umpires consulted with each other and agreed that there was nothing in the rules to prevent it from happening.[15]

Leading international wicket-keepers[edit]


The following top 10 wicket-keepers for dismissals in Test cricket.[16]

Leading Test match wicket-keepers by dismissals1
Rank Name Country Matches Caught Stumped Total dismissals
1 Mark Boucher  South Africa 147 532 23 555
2 Adam Gilchrist  Australia 96 379 37 416
3 Ian Healy  Australia 119 366 29 395
4 Rod Marsh  Australia 96 343 12 355
5 MS Dhoni  India 90 256 38 294
6 Jeff Dujon  West Indies 81 265 5 270
7 Alan Knott  England 95 250 19 269
8 Matt Prior  England 79 243 13 256
9 Alec Stewart  England 133 227 14 241
10 Wasim Bari  Pakistan 81 201 27 228

Notes in table

  1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2016
  2. Indicates current player


The following wicket-keepers have taken 200 or more dismissals in one day cricket.[17]

Leading one-day wicket-keepers by dismissals1
Rank Name Country Matches Caught Stumped Total dismissals
1 Kumar Sangakkara  Sri Lanka 404 383 99 482
2 Adam Gilchrist  Australia 287 417 55 472
3 Mark Boucher  South Africa 295 402 22 424
4 MS Dhoni  India 294 275 97 372
5 Moin Khan  Pakistan 219 214 73 287
6 Brendon McCullum  New Zealand 260 227 15 242
7 Ian Healy  Australia 168 194 39 233
8 Rashid Latif  Pakistan 166 182 38 220
9 Romesh Kaluwitharana  Sri Lanka 189 131 75 206
10 Jeff Dujon  West Indies 169 183 21 204

Notes in table

  1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2017
  2. Bold indicates current player


The following top 10 wicket-keepers for dismissals in Twenty20 International cricket.[18]

Leading T20I wicket-keepers by dismissals1
Rank Name Country Matches Caught Stumped Total dismissals
1 MS Dhoni  India 76 42 23 65
2 Kamran Akmal  Pakistan 54 28 32 60
3 Denesh Ramdin  West Indies 58 32 19 51
4 Mushfiqur Rahman  Bangladesh 57 22 23 45
5 Kumar Sangakkara  Sri Lanka 56 25 20 45
6 Mohammad Shahzad  Afghanistan 48 21 20 41
7 Quinton de Kock  South Africa 29 27 9 36
8 Brendon McCullum  New Zealand 71 24 8 32
9 AB de Villiers  South Africa 71 21 7 28
10 Luke Ronchi  New Zealand 29 23 5 28

Notes in table

  1. Statistics are correct as of 19 June 2016
  2. Indicates current player

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Law 40 The Wicket Keeper". Lords Home of Cricket. 
  2. ^ "Ground and Equipment". Cricket Rules. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  3. ^ The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, Oxford, Melbourne, 1996, p. 100.
  4. ^ "Godfrey Evans". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  5. ^ http://www.lords.org/laws-and-spirit/laws-of-cricket/laws/law-40-the-wicket-keeper,66,AR.html
  6. ^ "Laws of Cricket | Lord's". Lords.org. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  7. ^ http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/153677.html
  8. ^ "Father of modern cricket: John Wisden". Sportskeeda. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Lillywhite, Jamie (30 August 2014). "England v India: Six-wicket win puts tourists 2-0 up in ODI series". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Hogan, Jesse (26 December 2014). "Live: Australia v India, Boxing Day Test, day one". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Steven Lynch (20 May 2014). "The boys from St Lucia, and captains' ten-fors". ESPNcricinfo. ESPN Inc. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Bucke, Greg (8 March 2012). "Victoria bowl New South Wales out on day one of crucial Sheffield Shield clash at MCG". Fox Sports (Australia). Fox Sports Pty Limited. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "NatWest T20 Blast video: Worcestershire wicketkeeper Daryl Mitchell moves to outfield". Fox Sports. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "English county side creates controversy by having no wicket-keeper behind the stumps". sportskeeda. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "Worcestershire ditch keeper as Dhoni gives idea for controversial ploy". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  16. ^ "Wicketkeeping Records most Test Match dismissals in a career". Cricinfo. 2 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Wicketkeeping Records most ODI dismissals in a career". Cricinfo. 2 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Wicketkeeping Records most T20I Match dismissals in a career". Cricinfo. 13 November 2013.