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Buttler? AB? Dhoni? Who is the greatest men’s ODI keeper-batter of all time?

Buttler? AB? Dhoni? Who Is The Greatest Men's ODI Keeper-Batter Of All Time?
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Another record-breaking performance from the England men’s ODI side, another exhibition in ball-striking from Jos Buttler.

The 31-year-old brought up his 10th ODI hundred off just 47 balls in England’s demolition of the Netherlands on Friday and ended unbeaten on 162 off just 70 deliveries. Buttler is now responsible for England’s three fastest hundreds in the format – his 46-ball ton against Pakistan in November 2015 still sits at the top of the pile.

The highest score of his professional career also saw him displace Alec Stewart as the keeper with the most ODI runs for England, which leads to the bigger question: where does Buttler sit amongst the great glovemen of the 50-over game?


Here’s a look at the leading candidates for the position of the best keeper-batter the men’s ODI game has seen.

Statistics are from matches in which the player was assigned the gloves.

Kumar Sangakkara

360 matches, 13,341 runs @ 43.74, SR: 80.15, 23 hundreds | 482 dismissals

While he was relieved of keeping duties before the halfway point of his Test career, Sangakkara spent 15 years behind the stumps for Sri Lanka in the ODI game, building an astonishing record with the bat in the process. The graceful left-hander helped his country to consecutive World Cup finals in 2007 and 2011 and did the bulk of his work at No.3, where he hit 18 hundreds. His final flourish in the one-day game was astonishing; he hit four consecutive tons at the 2015 World Cup.

MS Dhoni

350 matches, 10,773 runs @ 50.57, SR: 87.56, 10 hundreds | 444 dismissals

While Sangakkara worked his magic in the top order, Dhoni built his reputation as a finisher, excelling at Nos.5 and 6. His finest hour came in Mumbai 11 years ago, when he put aside a poor run of form in the tournament to navigate a tricky chase in the World Cup final against Sri Lanka, his unbeaten 91 concluding with an iconic six down the ground to spark jubilant scenes. Dhoni kept in every ODI he played in and was captain in 200 ODIs from 2007 to 2018, overseeing India’s World Cup win in 2011 and a Champions Trophy triumph two years later.

Adam Gilchrist

282 matches, 9,410 runs @ 35.64, SR: 96.94, 16 hundreds | 472 dismissals

Another keeper who enjoyed tremendous success but in a different batting role to the ones occupied by Sangakkara and Dhoni. Gilchrist, widely considered to have revolutionised the keeper-batter role, spent most of his ODI career as an opener; a successful partnership with Mark Waugh at the top of the order was followed by an even better one with Matthew Hayden in the second half of his career. Gilchrist was a man for the big occasion; a half-century in the 1999 World Cup final was followed by another four years later against India, and he went bigger in the 2007 edition, smashing 149 off 104 balls against Sri Lanka to seal Australia’s third consecutive World Cup title. To this day, no one has scored more ODI runs at a higher strike rate than Gilchrist.

AB de Villiers

59 matches, 2,963 runs @ 70.54, SR: 100.74, 10 hundreds | 98 dismissals

A peculiar case. De Villiers spent most of his ODI career without the gloves – South Africa could call upon Mark Boucher and Quinton de Kock during that period – yet he was phenomenal when he had them on, as shown by the numbers. Remarkably, his last innings as an ODI keeper-batter was when he hit 149 off 44 balls against the West Indies, a knock that broke the record for the fastest half-century and century in the format.

Quinton de Kock

128 matches, 5,655 runs @ 46.35, SR: 96.12, 17 hundreds | 185 dismissals

De Kock hit four ODI hundreds before turning 21 to quickly establish himself as South Africa’s gloveman – de Villiers could spend his time smashing six after six without the additional responsibility of keeping. Still just 29, de Kock has already surpassed Boucher to become South Africa’s leading run-scorer with the gloves, and recent form suggests the opening batter has plenty left to offer; eight ODIs since the start of last year have resulted in 523 runs at 65.37.

Jos Buttler

148 matches, 4,034 runs @ 40.74, SR: 121.10, 10 hundreds | 214 dismissals

Buttler’s first ODI in February 2012 saw him play as a specialist batter and return a second-ball duck, but it wasn’t long before he displaced Craig Kieswetter as England’s first-choice keeper in white-ball cricket. Only Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Marcus Trescothick and Jonny Bairstow have made more ODI hundreds for England than Buttler, who has spent most of his career at No.6 and 7. Yet virtuoso displays have still come up the order: at No.4, Buttler averages 63.88 in 12 innings with a strike rate of 173.19.

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