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Denesh Ramdin and West Indies’ other wicketkeeper captains

So, what would Sir Vivian Richards have to say about this development now? © Getty Images (File Photo)
So, what would Sir Vivian Richards have to say about this development now? © Getty Images (File Photo)

Denesh Ramdin is all set to become the fifth wicket-keeper to captain West Indies. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the careers of the earlier glovesmen to have gone out in West Indian blazers to flip the coin.

The sacking of Darren Sammy did come as a blow to his fans. The appointment of Denesh Ramdin in his place was an obvious one (given that he was the vice-captain), but voices have already been raised regarding whether he is worthy enough. True, the post was once held by Viv Richards, but then, Ramdin has been the one to have stood up against the authority and legacy of the man in public.

That apart, Ramdin is all set to be the fifth wicket-keeper captain for West Indies. Karl Nunes, of course, was the first captain of West Indies. Originally named deputy to Harold Austin, Nunes filled in and was at the receiving end of three innings defeats in the 1928 tour of England. His fourth and final Test was the famous one where Andy Sandham scored the first triple-hundred and the Test ended with West Indies on 408 for five chasing 836, George Headley scoring 223.

Gerry Alexander came next. He was the first full-time glovesman to captain West Indies, still second on the all-time list across countries with 18 Tests at the helm. He led West Indies in four full series, was the captain when Garry Sobers scored 365 not out for and Hanif Mohammad 338 against them, and created news when he sent Roy Gilchrist back mid-tour. He was succeeded by Frank Worrell, in the opinion of many the greatest captain in the history of the Caribbeans.

Deryck Murray, vice-captain of Clive Lloyd’s side before Richards got the post, got to lead West Indies in a solitary Test at The Gabba when Lloyd had still not recovered from a knee surgery. Richards scored 140, but more significantly, Joel Garner blasted his way to an 83-ball 60; Australia fought back with hundreds from Greg Chappell and Kim Hughes; and the Test ended in a draw. Lloyd was back for the next two Tests, and the Australians were crushed by ten wickets and 408 runs.

With Carl Hooper pulling out of the Bangladesh tour of 2002-03, Ridley Jacobs got his opportunity. The matches were not really competitive, the highlight being Jermaine Lawson’s unreal figures of 6.5-4-3-6: it still remains the cheapest Test six-wicket haul.

Beyond a Boundary

The four West Indians are among a list of 28 wicket-keepers who have led their countries. MS Dhoni towers above the rest with 53 Tests in terms of matches led, which is more than the next three men (Alexander, 18; Andy Flower, 16; and Mushfiqur Rahim, 14) put together.

Random trivia

First Test wicket-keeper captains  for every country
Team Captain Opposition Ground Season
Australia Billy Murdoch England SCG 1882-83
South Africa Barberton Halliwell England St George’s Park 1895-86
England Rony Stanyforth South Africa Old Wanderers 1927-28
West Indies Karl Nunes England Lord’s 1928
Pakistan Imtiaz Ahmed Australia Lahore 1959-60
New Zealand Ian Smith Sri Lanka Eden Park 1990-91
Zimbabwe Andy Flower Pakistan Karachi 1993-94
Bangladesh Khaled Mashud New Zealand Hamilton 2001-02
India MS Dhoni South Africa Green Park 2008
No wicketkeeper has ever led Sri Lanka

- Percy Sherwell was the first wicket-keeper captain to score a hundred when he saved the Lord’s Test of 1907 against England with his unbeaten 115.

- Wasim Bari was the first wicket-keeper captain to bowl. Against England at Karachi in 1977-78 he bowled an over for two runs as the Test petered out to a stalemate.

Tatenda Taibu is the only wicket-keeper captain to have taken a Test wicket, that too on his captaincy debut. Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya were on a rampage at Harare when Taibu handed the big gloves to Alester Maregwede. Jayasuriya holed out his third ball to Douglas Hondo; the partnership being broken, Taibu took over the gloves after a spell of 8-1-27-1.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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