300 Club; Welcome Gilly

During perhaps the greatest Ashes series of them all, not many people noticed that Adam Gilchrist has become member number four of the 300 club. That is wicket keepers who have racked up 300 dismissals; he joins two Australians in Rod Marsh and Ian Healy, and one South African Mark Boucher. When you think Test Cricket has now toted up 129 years, you begin to realise just what an exclusive club Gilchrist has joined.

Comparing the four members of the 300 club, it is interesting to view their wicket keeper averages:

Rod Marsh – 355 dismissals in 96 Tests at an average of 3.70
Ian Healy – 395 dismissals in 119 Tests at an average of 3.32
Mark Boucher – 323 dismissals in 84 Tests at an average of 3.85
Adam Gilchrist – 306 dismissals in 73 Tests at an average of 4.19

Why is Gilchrist’s ave per Test better then the other three? Is it the quality of the bowlers he keeps to? Or the amount of chances he converts? I would think the former, as most judges would rate him behind both Marsh and Healy in strictly keeping ability, and probably on a par with Boucher. It was a disappointment to Ian Healy that he did not become the first keeper in history to claim 400 Test dismissals, he pleaded with the selectors to allow him to play just one more Test, ostensibly to say goodbye to his beloved fans at the Gabba but also for a chance to achieve that elusive 400th dismissal.

History shows that his replacement Adam Gilchrist whom was booed all the way to the middle by the parochial QLD fans, claimed six dismissals (5c & 1st) this would have allowed Ian Healy to break the 400 record, but unfortunately there is little sentiment in Test Cricket. The race to 400 will be a nip and tuck affair; on their present rates of dismissals Gilchrist should reach the target in his 96th Test and Boucher in his 104th Test. It could well depend on their respective countries itinerary. If Mark Boucher plays on for another five years, and there is no obvious reason why he can’t, at his present rate of dismissals he should reach 550 before the end of his career.

It is interesting to compare the dismissal rate of Adam Gilchrist with the great wicket keepers of the past, let us take two, Jack Blackham of Australia and Godfrey Evans of England.

Adam Gilchrist – 306 dismissals in 73 Tests at an average of 4.19
Jack Blackham – 61 dismissals in 35 Tests at an average of 1.74
Godfrey Evans – 174 dismissals in 91 Tests at an average of 1.91

The disparity in the ave can be explained by the desire of the olden day keepers to stand up over the stumps, to all but the fastest of bowlers. The combination of Evans and Alec Bedser comes readily to mind. For Blackham to reach 300 dismissals he would need to have played 173 Tests, exactly 100 more then Adam Gilchrist has now played.

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