Best catching performances by fielders in Test history
They say catches win you matches. However, that isn’t always necessarily the case. Just ask Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who is the world record holder for the most catches in a Test match that was ultimately a lost cause. That said, chances are that, more often than not, catches will win you games, and with that in mind here we have a look at the players who have taken the most catches in a single Test.
Before Ajinkya Rahane broke the world record for most catches in a Test, five other players were the joint-record holders. However, Rahane broke that record by taking eight catches in the first Test during India’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2015. He took three catches in the first innings and five in the second. His first victim in the opening innings was Dimuth Karunaratne while he was stood at gully and the other two were Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal, both of whom he caught at slips.
Most of his catches in the second innings were also at the slips with his left-hand pluck to get rid of Kumara Sangakkara being the pick of the bunch.
With bowlers like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson in the team, the slips region was unsurprisingly one of the busier positions on the ground for fielders at the time. A permanent fixture in the slips during that era was Greg Chappell, thanks to his superb fielding ability. But little did he know that he was about to set a new world record owing to his catching prowess, in the second Test of the Ashes Series in 1974 at Perth. Chappell took three catches in the first innings and a further four in the second to make his match tally seven – the most by a fielder at the time. Interestingly, by doing so, one of the cricketers that Chappell went past by setting the record was his own grandfather Vic Richardson, who had set the record 40 years earlier.
Debutants frequently find themselves fielding at short-leg when spinners operate, and this was the case for Yajurvindra Singh, who was making his debut in Bengaluru during the fourth Test of England’s tour of India in 1977. With Bishan Singh Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar all in India’s bowling line-up, Yajurvindra was always going to have a busy day and that’s exactly how things panned out. The first innings saw him equal a 40-year record at the time after he claimed five catches. He grabbed two more in the second innings and played his part in a comfortable win for India.
A member for the 1996 Cricket World Cup-winning team for Sri Lanka and a wicket-keeper by trade, it’s somewhat surprising that when Hashan Tillakaratne took seven catches in the second Test of New Zealand’s tour of the island nation in 1992, he wasn’t wearing the gloves. Good enough to be in the team on the strength of his batting alone, Tillakaratne found himself occupying the slips and took three catches in the first innings. The second innings saw him claim another four catches to take his match total to seven. He also scored 93 in Sri Lanka’s first innings and was adjudged the Player of the Match for his all-round effort as the hosts won the Test.
Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming is known for his safe pair of hands. So, him being a part of this list is hardly a surprise. Like the rest mentioned above apart from Rahane, Fleming also has the record of taking seven catches in a Test match. He managed this feat during the first Test of New Zealand’s tour of Zimbabwe in 1997. Fleming took five catches in the first innings and two in the second. He also scored 52 for the Kiwis in the first innings but couldn’t quite guide his team to a victory with the match ending in a draw.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Prakash Singh