Since Adam Gilchrist the role of a wicketkeeper has changed. The trend in international cricket is that the wicketkeeper should be an extra batsman. This almost compensates sides who do not have a genuine bowling/batting allrounder.
There are plenty of examples in cricket where a wicketkeeper has been picked over another on batting abilities, pre Gilchrist as well as after. One such example could be picking Alec Stewart over Jack Russell or even the fact that James Foster (by far the best English wicketkeeper) does not get a look in.
The next generation of international wicket keepers looks interesting, seeing as they are the first real generation to have grown up with Gilchrist/Boucher. Many of these players are showing potential to play in a very similar style. England have Bairstow and Butler in the wings, South Africa have a very exciting prospect in Quinton De Kock (who is a carbon copy of Gilchrist) and India have Sanju Sampson.
Currently in international cricket it seems that every team has gone for a batsman who can also keep wicket. Some of these names include Dhoni, Sangakara, Haddin, McCullum, Prior and De Villiers. Many of these players seem to have developed their keeping skills once in the role. A good example of this is Dhoni and De Villiers. Both were not the greatest wicketkeepers when they started but have developed good skills as they have gone along.
Over the last three years Matt Prior has developed into one of England’s most important players with the bat, he has saved England almost every time they were in trouble over this period. His aggressive batting always puts bowlers under pressure. If you watch Sky Sports coverage of England matches they constantly call him out as to being the best. I personally do not agree that he is the best but think he is up there. A reason I believe he has done so well is that England’s lower order is a good batting unit. His actual wicket keeping is sound, but he has recently shown a drop in this form also. He is more a player who knows his roles and abilities inside out.
M.S Dhoni, Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakara are all probably considered as better batsman than keepers, for differing reasons. Sangakara probably was the best all round wicketkeeper after Gilchrist had retired. But in recent years he has slowly given up his role behind the stumps, it seems age and injuries have caught up with him, meaning he cant be the top of the list anymore.
McCullum is up there for best wicketkeeper batsman in T20 cricket, but is far behind the others in all other formats of the game. Like Sangakara he is slowly giving up his keeping duties and should rightly concentrate on his batting. I would rank Kamran Akmal with similar attributes as McCullum. His wicket keeping lacks real quality to be considered in any list of top keepers but his batting is good in T20 and ODI cricket.
Dhoni currently is the best batman keeper, he is suited to batting in al forms of the game and has shown he is apt at batting in any of the main batting positions. He is still good and has improved his keeping so much but still falls slightly short of Haddin in terms of wicketkeeping. He is the perfect keeper for India, especially in ODI chases. Making him my choice for ODI wicketkeeper.
The South African captain AB Devilliers had a big job on his hands replacing Mark Boucher, after his eye injury forced him to retire. The transition does not seem to have affected Devilliers that much. He has shown his ability to stand up to the stumps against the quickest of bowlers as well as great agility. He has international experience solely as a batsman, and bats in the top three in limited overs cricket. He is near the top of the batting tables also. I would choose De Villiers as my T20 wicketkeeper.
I would consider Brad Haddin the best keeper in the list, although if De Villiars keeps improving then he could take this mantle one day. The Aussie keeper is also very agile in the field and is currently on great form. He has shown he is capable of bating at the top of the order in T20 cricket and ODI cricket. His batting and keeping is slightly better than Prior, the most similar of wicketkeepers currently. In test cricket Haddin has shown his capability to turn a poor score into a good one. Very similar to prior in the fact that he has a long tail to bat with. The only difference is that Haddin can build innings aswell as play the aggressive role. My choice for the test role.
T20 = De Villiers
ODI = Dhoni
Test = Haddin