The independent voice of cricket


Most byes conceded in a Test innings by a wicketkeeper

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Even the very best wicketkeepers have bad days at the office, and the list of most byes conceded in a single Test innings contains some of the best to have donned the gauntlets.

Sometimes it’s not always the gloveman’s fault. It’s a common sight to see a bowler fire one way down the leg-side, the keeper given no chance, but a lenient umpire award byes rather than wides, much to the chagrin of the man behind the stumps.

Sometimes it’s the pitch playing tricks; if the ball is turning or keeping low, it’s not just hard to bat on. The wicketkeeper needs to guess where it’s going and react too, and byes can result when a delivery misbehaves. And sometimes a keeper can just be out of form. Even AB de Villiers and Adam Gilchrist can have off days, and any to have stood behind the stumps will know the feeling of the ball rebounding off the glove rather than sticking in the mitt, or passing between the legs after standing up too quickly, conceding byes aplenty.

With that in mind, here are the top eight occasions when the most byes have been conceded in a single Test innings:

Les Ames: 37 byes v Australia, The Oval, 1934

Les Ames keeping wicket to Bill Ponsford at The Oval

Described in his Wisden Almanack obituary as “without a doubt the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman the game has so far produced,” Ames had a day to forget at The Oval in 1934. Ahead of his time in that he was a genuine frontline batsman as well as a wicketkeeper, Ames conceded a whopping 37 byes in Australia’s second innings.

Perhaps tired by Australia’s mammoth first innings effort – their total of 701 was propped up by a then world record Test partnership of 451 between Don Bradman and Bill Ponsford, and contained just four byes to the keeper’s name –  Ames’ 37 byes represented 11 per cent of Australia’s second innings runs.

Dinesh Karthik: 35 byes v Pakistan, Bengaluru, 2007

Dinesh Karthik after conceding byes against Pakistan in 2007

In India’s most recent Test against Pakistan, a high scoring draw in Bengaluru, Karthik conceded 35 byes in Pakistan’s first innings score of 537. Spare a thought for his quads though as he spent 168.1 overs behind the stumps, including 88 stood up to the spin of Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh.

Matt Prior: 35 byes v West Indies, Port of Spain, 2009

In a game where England finished two wickets away from levelling the series, Prior let through 35 byes as West Indies piled on 544 in their first innings. A contest also remembered for being Amjad Khan’s sole Test outing, Prior actually won the Player of the Match award for his career-best 131*.

John Murray: 33 byes v India, Mumbai, 1961

John Murray keeping wicket for Middlesex in 1971

A Middlesex great whose 21 Test career spanned a six-year period, Murray found life behind the stumps difficult in foreign conditions in Mumbai. A normally brilliant gloveman, Murray conceded 33 byes over the course of India’s 168-over first innings.

Jim Parks: 33 byes v West Indies, Kingston, 1968

Parks is a rarity in that he is a Test wicketkeeper who is also the proud owner of a Test wicket. He endured one of his toughest days with the gloves in his last series as an England player, away to the West Indies. Parks let through 33 byes as West Indies nearly forced an unlikely win after following on, but did at least have the best seat in the house for one of Garry Sobers’ 26 Test hundreds.

Matt Prior: 33 byes v India, The Oval, 2007

The final Test of Prior’s first summer in the England team did not go the way he would have wanted. With England needing a victory to draw the series, they were met with the flattest of Oval surfaces. Anil Kumble scored the only Test hundred of his decorated career as India batted for nearly two days to pile on 664 in their first innings.

Tich Cornford: 31 byes v New Zealand, Auckland, 1930

One of the smallest wicketkeepers to play Test cricket – he stood at only slightly more than five foot tall – Cornford was your classic specialist keeper. With a first-class batting average of just 14.96, Cornford played four Tests all on England’s 1930 series in New Zealand, the host’s first in international cricket. Cornford’s 31 byes came in the final Test of the tour, a drab draw in Auckland. Cornford batted at number 10 for England and at the time, those 31 byes were the most conceded in a Test innings.

Wally Grout: 31 byes v Pakistan, Lahore, 1959

Grout is another on this list who had to endure an extended stint standing up to spin as 103.4 of 179.4 overs of Pakistan’s second innings were delivered by Australian spinners. The hosts’ marathon 366 helped salvage a draw after they were skittled for 146 in the first innings.


Like & Share

If you enjoyed this story, please share with your fellow cricket fans and team-mates

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99