With MS Dhoni officially hanging up his gloves, international cricket has lost one of the greatest wicketkeeper batsman to ever grace the game.
While he was an exciting batsman to watch when in full flow and one of the best finishers in the limited-overs game, the India stalwart was also a skillful gloveman behind the stumps.
The veteran is right up there along with Australia’s Adam Gilchrist when it comes to longevity at the highest level, and it will be difficult for any wicketkeeper to emulate his illustrious career in the near future.
Here, we look at four young wicketkeepers who have the potential to hit lofty heights.
Rishabh Pant (India)
With MS Dhoni’s retirement, a pathway back into India’s limited overs outfits seems more feasible for young Rishabh Pant. Despite being introduced to the big stage as an aggressive batsman who can frequently clear the ropes, Pant’s white-ball showings have been nothing to write home about so far.
The inconsistencies at the ODI and T20I level has seen the rookie lose his spot to makeshift wicketkeeper KL Rahul and it will be difficult for him to dislodge the senior player based on current performances. However, it is easy to forget that the southpaw is still only 22 and has overseas Test tons in England and Australia to boot.
If IPL performances are to be considered as a barometer for potential, then there is definitely a world-beater in Pant still waiting to be unleashed fully. There’s no denying that he has been given several chances already, but sometimes extreme patience is required to unlock a youngster who is tipped to be a prodigy. Like his batting, his wicketkeeping skills require some polish, though there is plenty of time for the Delhi boy to iron out these flaws.
Tom Banton (England)
Just like Pant, Tom Banton has been parachuted to senior international cricket with a reputation of an enterprising young batsman. The 21-year-old has only made a handful of white-ball appearances for England so far though, and is yet to uproot any trees.
As a batsman with plenty of inventive shots in his armoury, Banton seems tailor-made for the shorter formats. A breathtaking domestic season with Somerset in 2019 earned him rave reviews with an England call-up following soon after.
While he has even managed to bag contracts in franchise T20 leagues such as the IPL and PSL, the right-hander hasn’t really made a big statement on the global stage. The talent is evidently there and the youngster might just need a run of games under his belt to really come to the fore.
At first-class level, Banton has done nothing to suggest that he could be an England Test player in the future. However, ODI and T20I cricket seems to be his calling and he could be the likely long-term successor to Jos Buttler if he can fulfil some of that potential.
Josh Philippe (Australia)
Having just earned his maiden call-up to Australia’s limited-overs squads for the upcoming tour of England, Josh Philippe is another exciting young wicketkeeper who is making rapid strides of late.
The 23-year-old grabbed the spotlight after a stunning 29-ball 52 in the BBL final last year which also earned him the Player of the Match Award. A clean hitter of the cricket ball, Philippe’s exploits in the 2019 BBL have earned him a contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore for the upcoming IPL edition in the UAE.
The Western Australia man has shown some promising signs of late at first-class level too, though it is in white-ball cricket where he has the highest ceiling. Unlike Pant and Banton, Philippe looks like a natural with the wicketkeeping gloves on his hand, and this combined package makes him the ideal candidate to become Australia’s mainstay wicketkeeper in the years to come.
It is still early days for Philippe in senior cricket and it would be prudent to wait another couple of years to see if he is, in fact, the real deal.
Kyle Verreynne (South Africa)
For 23-year-old Kyle Verreynne, big things are already starting to happen after a promising ODI debut series against Australia earlier this year. Scores of 50 and 48 in the three-match series were a ringing endorsement of the talent the wicketkeeper has carried right from his junior cricketing days.
The right-hander has already made a total of 40 first-class appearances in which he has managed to hold a commanding batting average of over 50. Verreyne clearly has the technique and temperament to succeed in all three-formats of the game, and it will be interesting to see how his development unfolds in the coming years.
Quinton de Kock’s elevation to South Africa’s limited overs captaincy seems to have come at just the right time for both Verreynne and the Proteas. With the team management in favour of relieving de Kock from his wicketkeeping duties, Verreyne has a clear run at becoming South Africa’s long-term wicketkeeper. His competition at the moment is Heinrich Klaasen, although he does have a significant advantage with his age.
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