Given two wicket keepers, how would you compare which one was better?

With bowlers you can use statistics like number of wickets taken and with batsmen, you can use number of runs scored but with wicket keepers, what could you use to evaluate the performance of a wicket keeper?

You couldn't use anything like number of catches or stumping because these things are generally dependent on other players.


Most achievements in cricket depend to some extent on other players. Runs scored depends on the bowler faced, and wickets taken depends on the efforts of the fielders.

Therefore it's reasonable to use catches taken and stumpings made to evaluate wicketkeepers. In addition, byes conceded is a useful measure: lower is better.

  • I disagree. Using catches, stumpings or even byes conceded would be a terrible way to evaluate a wicketkeeper. Due to the nature of team sports, most stats are influenced by other players, but the ones you've mentioned are almost entirely influenced by other players and the wicket keeper is just finishing the job. For example, 99% of catches made by one wicket keeper would be made by another one - a good wicket keeper isn't one whose made a high number of catches, it's one who could achieve a positive result in the 1% of times where the other 99% couldn't.
    – Orge
    Jul 7 '14 at 2:45
  • @Orge - You are guessing/interpreting it wrongly. There are several occasions where wicket keepers drops very easy chances of catching and stumping or catch or stump very difficult one. But the one who misses the chance very less is a good wicket keeper. Why are taking wicket keepers' statistics? The same happen with bowlers and batsmen as well. Many bowlers get wickets due to either's batsmen's wrong shot or fielder's better efforts or sometimes luck. Same for batsmen some batsmen get runs by edges. Have you calculated which batsman got most number of runs by edges? Jul 7 '14 at 4:13
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    @Orge - Also, in bowling friendly pitches bowlers get wickets easily while in batting pitches batsmen get runs easily. Do anyone take this into account while comparing batsmen or bowlers? Even different pitches help different bowlers like slow pitches (like in sub-continents) help spinners while fast pitches (like in Aus-NZ) help fast bowlers. So you can't compare bowlers properly. Jul 7 '14 at 4:18

The more telling statistics for a wicket keeper in the field are the number of dropped catches and missed stumpings per match. In the professional game, you would expect the wicketkeeper to catch all but the most difficult chances, and to cleanly gather the ball and attempt a stumping whenever possible.

An example of this is when the England wicketkeeper Matt Prior was dropped for the series against New Zealand in 2008. The explanation by the Chairman of selectors was

the selectors feel that he needs to further improve his wicket-keeping in order to realise his full potential in international cricket.

but the more telling explanation was from the BBC cricket expert and former fast bowler Jonathan Agnew:

It's harsh but fair on Matt... he simply dropped too many catches.

I couldn't find any statistics on drops by wicketkeepers. Maybe the coaches keep statistics, but in doubt you can always ask the bowlers, who don't forget drops too quickly.

  • yeah i agree dropped catches would be a better statistic than catches taken. I reckon there are no official stats on it cause dropped catches are hard to define. Is it anytime where you drop a catch after getting a hand to it? Sometimes, the catch is so hard that its the better wicket keeper who was able to get a hand to it where other keepers would've missed it entirely. I think coaches / selectors would probably informally identify a couple of incidences during the match and evaluate how they performed in them.
    – Orge
    Jul 7 '14 at 14:33

From abstract of Performance measures for Wicket Keepers in Cricket by Hermanus H. LEMMER

A wicket keeper should not only perform well behind the wickets in terms of taking catches, executing stumpings and limiting the number of byes, but should also perform well as a batsman. The purpose of this study is to combine the dismissal rate (based on the number of catches and stumpings) and a measure of batting performance into measuring wicket-keeping performance.

But the one that I find interesting to measure the performance of wicket keeper is in thesis by Danielle Catherine MacDonald named Performance analysis of fielding and wicket-keeping.....

A data of wicket-keeper for following activity like: crouch, catch, missed take/reception, jump, dive, take, reception from field, sprint, underarm throw, run up to stumps, lateral steps and lateral shuffle could help in determining performance of wicket-keeper.

With the help of data for above mentioned activities, we can compare performance of wicket keepers.

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