I can’t claim to have seen all the great English wicket-keepers of the post-war period, but I did see one, Leslie Ames, who dates from before the war. Though by the time I saw him in a Kent county game in the early 1950s he no longer wore the gloves.
Who have there been since? Godfrey Evans, Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Jack Russell… the list goes on.
But then we come to a keeper whose performances place her on a pedestal of her own, Sarah Taylor, who has just announced her retirement from international cricket.
Hers is a talent that makes you feel privileged to have seen it. Relatively tall for a keeper, she has extraordinary skills in ball management and physical agility.
Katherine Brunt was happy to admit her annoyance at finding a 16-year-old who had the impudence to stand up to her behind the stumps when she was bowling at her fastest.
But when she saw a bail being removed from a leg-side delivery before the batter could regain her crease, she knew this indignity to her reputation was worth it.
Sarah’s ability to take any ball bowled or thrown at her cleanly is utterly remarkable. Half-volleys thrown away fromher feet are scooped up with one hand and – apparently – barely a glance.
Anyone who has seen her in action will have a favourite catch in mind. Those of us who were at Hove for an Ashes ODI in 2013 will recall our disbelief as we saw her change direction at the last moment to catch a ball from Danni Hazell off a reversed bat. She was lucky to survive the stampede from her team-mates as they closed around her in congratulation. Still viewable on youtube.
Add to these gifts her batting, and you know you have a cricketer to marvel at. She scored over 4000 runs in ODIs, including seven centuries. She can hit the ball all round the wicket with unflustered ease.
How appropriate that she is appointed Surrey Stars Player of the Year 2019.
Let’s hope we can all enjoy watching her for many years playing in other forms of cricket.