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When England used Four Wicket Keepers

A quite interesting incident took place on 25th July 1986, when England had to use four wicketkeepers in a single inning. The way this incident played out was also enthralling.

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Last updated: 25.07.2019
When England used four wicket keepers | Sports Social Blog

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25th July 1986 saw a Test match where England used four wicket keepers during one inning. This was a rare event and not repeated since then. 

It was the first Test match during New Zealand’s tour of England in 1986 being played at Lord’s. For England the designated wicket keeper was Bruce French, playing the third Test of his career. England batted first and was quite steady as fifties were made by David Gower and Martyn Moxon. For New Zealand, Richard Hadlee was as dangerous as ever but got hardly any support from the other end. Next morning he got Phil Edmonds caught at slip to get another five-wicket haul. This brought French to crease but the 12th ball he faced was a searing bouncer from Hadlee and French turned his head to get hit on the back of the helmet. Immediately, there was a cut and blood all over. He was retired hurt and went to a hospital for stitches.

England inning was soon over as Hadlee finished with 6 for 80. When New Zealand came out to bat, French was in no shape to keep. Bill Athey donned the gloves for two overs but he was not comfortable. Luckily for England, Bob Taylor, one of the greatest wicket keepers in the history of the game, was present in the venue. Although he retired from the game two years back and he was only present as PR host for the sponsors Cornhill.  However, English team management got in touch with him and convinced him to provide support in this time of need. He agreed and got down to keep wickets for England. He borrowed his whites but astonishingly his wicket keeping gloves were kept in the back of his car. Despite keeping after a long gap, Taylor was as solid as ever and presented a display of flawless keeping throughout. Although he did not get any opportunity to get a dismissal his keeping was of top standard.

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He kept the wickets till the lunch on day three and then Bobby Parks, the Hampshire cricketer took over. Thus he became the third wicket keeper in that innings. Among all these, New Zealand built their innings well. Martin Crowe scored 106 and Bruce Edger scored 83 which helped them to take a lead. They ended day three on 342/9.

After a rest day when the match resumed on Monday, 28th July, French was fit enough to be back on the field and keep. Although he just kept for one delivery as Graham Dilley got Willie Watson out on the first ball of the fourth day. But with that one ball, the record was achieved to have four different keepers keeping in the same innings. It may never happen again in the future. 

England got back the initiatives thanks to a masterful 183 by Graham Gooch in the second innings as the Test match ended in a draw. 


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