The role of a wicket-keeper has been defined and re-defined by several players in different eras. With time, a keeper handy with the bat was regarded as an ideal choice by most teams.
Historically, players with a balance of keeping and batting skills have gone a long way in their careers at the highest level. Some of them left a long-lasting impression on the game of cricket and are still regarded as one of the best in the department.
On that note, let us try to find out the best 10 wicketkeeper-batsmen the game has produced. Note: The list is in no particular order.
1. Ian Healy (Australia)
Regarded as one of the best wicket-keepers of his generation, Ian Healy was equally useful with the bat. He scored more than 4000 runs in Test cricket and proved to be a match-winner for the great Australian team of the 90s on many occasions. His skills with the gloves and courageous gameplay was acknowledged throughout the world.
He played 119 Tests and 168 ODIs for Australia, scoring over 6000 runs that included four centuries (all in Tests). Healy provided depth in the batting-order and handled the pressure beautifully. His temperament while batting with tailenders was lauded by the experts, along with his livewire keeping behind the stumps.
2. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara is regarded as one of the biggest ambassadors of the game of cricket. Not only did he lead his side with dignity, he also fulfilled all the responsibilities superbly that were asked of him.
Sangakkara played 594 international games for his country and contributed handsomely with the bat and the gloves. He scored over 17,000 runs with 63 international centuries in all three formats combined.
When it comes to his work behind the stumps, Sangakkara has over 500 ODI dismissals in his kitty and holds the record for the most number of dismissals in World Cups at 54.
3. Rodney Marsh (Australia)
Australia's Rod Marsh is considered to be one of the best keeper-batsmen to have ever stepped out on to a cricket field. With the legendary Dennis Lillee, he formed a lethal combination and together scripted valuable victories for their country in the late 70s and early 80s.
Marsh played 92 Tests and 96 ODIs for Australia, scoring more than 4500 runs combined. He also effected 355 dismissals in Tests while securing 124 dismissals in ODIs.
4. Andy Flower (Zimbabwe)
Possibly the greatest batsman to come out the country, Andy Flower's prowess with the bat impacted everyone on and off the field.
The former Zimbabwe keeper-batsman claimed 141 catches and 32 stumpings in ODIs. Along with that, he also scored 6876 runs in ODI cricket at an average of 35.34 and 4794 runs in 63 Tests at a phenomenal average of 51.55.
Post his retirement, he also took over the job of a full-time director of the England team. In his tenure, the English team won the ICC T20 WC in 2010 in West Indies and won the Ashes home and away. They later whitewashed India to become the new World No.1 Test team.
5. Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum was famous for his audacious strokeplay. The elder of the McCullum brothers changed the way wicket-keepers were looked at in the modern game. He inflicted heavy damage on great bowling oppositions through his unorthodox gameplay.
Apart from that, he was also brilliant behind the stumps. He inflicted 201 Test dismissals as a wicket-keeper and 273 dismissals in ODIs. He even captained the Kiwis to the 2015 WC final where they fell at the final hurdle to their Trans-Tasman rivals, Australia. He scored over 12,000 international runs in over 350 matches before lighting up the IPL.
6. Adam Gilchrist (Australia)
After going through tremendous pressure at the start of his career, Adam Gilchrist soon found his footing in international cricket. The pressure was on him from the start because replacing Ian Healy in the Australian setup was the toughest task a budding keeper could have faced. But Gilchrist stepped up to the occasion handsomely.
Bringing on a mini revolution to the game, Gilchrist smashed bowlers to all parts of the ground irrespective of their reputation. He was famous for playing big innings in important matches and putting Australia in a strong position to win tournaments. He scored 5570 runs in 96 Tests and 9619 runs in 287 ODIs for Australia. He also inflicted 813 catches and 82 stumpings across all formats for Australia.
7. Mark Boucher (South Africa)
South Africa's current head coach Mark Boucher was one of the most prolific wicket-keepers of his time. Besides his keeping attributes, he also contributed handsomely with the bat.
A freak eye-injury in a practise game in England cut-short a brilliant career, both with the bat and behind the stumps. He was stuck on 999 dismissals before hanging up his boots, scoring over 10,000 runs across all formats for the Proteas.
8. MS Dhoni (India)
A 50-over and T20 WC winning captain for India, MS Dhoni is the only entry one on this list who is still active and playing professional cricket. Although he hasn't represented India since the infamous semi-final loss to New Zealand in the CWC 2019, he remains a key figure in the cricketing setup.
He has represented India in more than 500 games across all formats, scoring more than 15,000 runs combined. Apart from his batting and captaincy heroics, he has also claimed more than 800 dismissals in international cricket.
9. Jeffrey Dujon (West Indies)
Jeffrey Dujon of West Indies was integral to a star-studded West Indian line-up. He inflicted more than 250 dismissals in both ODIs and Tests separately and established himself as one of the greatest keepers of all time.
Apart from his keeping prowess, he also scored more than 5000 runs in the international arena. He was named as one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1989 and went down as one of the key members of the fearsome West Indies team of the 80s.
10. Romesh Kaluwitharana (Sri Lanka)
One of the linchpins of Sri Lanka's 1996 WC triumph, Romesh Kaluwitharana gave a new meaning to the role of an opener and a wicket-keeper.
Along-with Sanath Jayasuriya, he formed a formidable opening pair which was unparalleled in international cricket in the late 90s and early 2000s. He played over 200 international matches and scored more than 5500 runs at a great strike-rate. He also inflicted more than 300 dismissals in both ODIs and Test combined as a wicket-keeper.