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Top 10 Aussie Caps - Ian Healy

UPDATED 04 January, 2013 3:16PM AEST | by Martin Gabor

Ian Healy's 119 caps makes him number 7 on our list and will long be regarded as one of the best wicket keepers to have ever played Test cricket.

In an incredible career, Healy only missed one match through injury; despite breaking all of his fingers along the way.

Given the high demands of the specialist role, it is testament to his character that he remains the most capped keeper to have represented Australia.

Healy’s rise to the top was nothing short of meteoric; the Queensland glovesman had only appeared in six First Class matches before earning his first Baggy Green.

When Healy joined the team, Australia was languishing near the bottom of world rankings.

When he retired, they were the best in the world.

It took a while for Healy to stamp his mark as a world class Test player.

Although his keeping was first class, his batting wasn’t as effective, with the Queenslander averaging below 20 for the first few years of his career.

The introduction of the world’s greatest leg-spin bowler (Shane Warne) was the spark Healy needed to take his game to the next level.

On his second tour of England, Healy notched his maiden test century with a fighting 102 in Manchester.

Behind the stumps, Healy was really starting to excel.

Without a quality spinner in the side, Healy had failed to grab any headlines.

However, his glove work was soon recognised when he took 52 catches and 10 stumpings in just 14 matches between 1992 and 1993.

His combination with Warne was exceptional.

Given the incredible number of weapons in Warne’s arsenal, it was amazing how easily Healy seemed to read him.

Leg side dismissals were made to look easy, while balls shooting low landed in the middle of his gloves every single time.

Although he was never the greatest batsman going around, Healy developed into a more than reliable middle-order player throughout his career.

Four centuries at an average of just over 27 highlight his obvious ability with the willow.

Not noted for hanging around, Healy thrilled crowds with his flamboyant style of attack, which culminated in a breathtaking 161* against the West Indies in 1996.

A world record was inevitable for the master glovesman, who passed Rod Marsh’s tally of 355 Test dismissals on the 1998 tour of Pakistan.

Healy finished up with 395 dismissals, which was a record at the time.

Even though his record has since been passed, he is still regarded as one of, if not the safest wicket keeper to have played the game.

With Adam Gilchrist looming, pressure was mounting on Healy to either score a mountain of runs, or retire.

Modest tours of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe forced the selectors hand to push for the latter.

Although he pleaded for a final swan song in front of his home fans, Healy was forced to retire ahead of the 1999/2000 Summer.

The most glowing endorsement of his success as a cricketer has to be his selection as wicket keeper in Australia’s team of the 20th Century.

Ian Healy has since joined the Channel Nine commentary team.

Number 5 – Unbreakable 

Unbeknownst to the cricketing world, Healy fought through the pain barrier time and time again.

Wicket keeping is one of the most rigorous roles in cricket.

Apart from having to bend his back for six hours a day, Healy also endured a record number of broken fingers throughout his career.

None of his digits were spared, with the Australian keeper breaking all of them multiple times.

It is incredible to note, then, that Healy only missed one Test during his lengthy career.

Safe to say he was one of the toughest players going around.

Number 4 – Talking the Talk

It comes as no surprise that Healy has assumed a role in commentary.

On the field, there are few players to have spoken as much as the former keeper.

Countless anecdotes have been told about the conversations he had with opposition batsmen, while the line “Bowling Warnie” was the most popular two word catch phrase during the 1990’s.

Even on the dullest day of cricket, Healy’s offerings via the stump mic were sure to entertain.

Number 3 – Bowling Shane

The emergence of Shane Warne was arguably the best thing to happen to Ian Healy.

Having failed to set the world on fire in the early parts of his career, the spin king offered Healy an irresistible chance to shine.

Healy’s footwork was the cornerstone of his success.

Warne might have bamboozled hundreds of batsmen across the world, but nothing was too difficult for Healy.

The two had struck a match that can only be rivalled by Marsh and Lillee.

Number 2 – Home Town hero

Ian Healy saved his best innings for his home fans in Brisbane.

Against the formidable West Indies attack, the wicket keeper destroyed the likes of Ambrose and Walsh in an awe inspiring display.

The unbeaten 161* set up Australia’s crushing 123 run victory and earned him Man of the Match honours.

It was an innings that came from nowhere, with Healy only ever producing two centuries before that.

The knock highlighted his attacking prowess, with the innings lasting well under the six hour mark.

Number 1 – Record Breaker

In a world where most people judge athletes by their statistics, Ian Healy can safely say that his numbers stack up against the best.

In a glittering career, Healy had the honour of breaking former Australian legend Rod Marsh’s long standing record when he took his 356th dismissal.

Testament to his ability, the catch took place on the tough pitches of Pakistan, where Healy held on to a catch to remove the dangerous Wasim Akram.

Healy finished his career with 366 catches and 29 stumpings at Test level.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia

First Posted 08 December, 2012 9:06AM AEST

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