MS Dhoni to Wriddhiman Saha
Wait: Just over 7 years
First-class record in that period: 42 matches, 2823 runs, average 54.28
When he made his unexpected Test debut as a batsman against a raging South African attack at Nagpur in February 2010, Saha had played 24 first-class matches as Bengal’s wicket-keeper, having scored 1256 at 35.88 down the order. After a baptism by fire against Dale Steyn, he has played three Tests, all as Dhoni’s stand-in, all in Australia. Now at 30, he’s all set to take over the gloves as the premier keeper of the side, having averaged 54.28 in 42 first-class games—excluding the three Tests—since that forgettable first outing in the big league. He’s also taken 102 catches and pulled off 17 stumpings.
Ian Healy to Adam Gilchrist
Wait: 6-and-a-half years
First-class record in that period: 72 matches, 3516 runs, average 39.50
Ian Healy held fort behind the wickets for the Baggy Greeners for close to 11 years, playing 119 Tests. Adam Gilchrist was at the cusp of turning 28 when he played his first Test, six-and-a-half years after making his first-class debut in the 1993-94 season. By the time he replaced Ian Healy to loud boos at the Gabba—the Queenslander’s home-ground—in November 1999, Gilchrist had scored 3516 runs in 72 matches at 39.50 with 9 centuries and 12 fifties with a highest of 203 not out. He had also snared 305 catches and 12 stumpings.
Adam Gilchrist to Brad Haddin
Wait: Almost 9 years
First-class record in that period: 89 matches, 5422 runs, average 41.38
The next eight years belonged entirely to Gilchrist, as he played 96 Tests without a break in between until his retirement in January 2008. Haddin, already past 30, then took over four months later. He had already played 89 first-class matches, scoring 5422 runs at a healthy average of 41.38 for New South Wales with 10 centuries. Haddin’s debut at Sabina Park came almost nine years after his maiden first-class match.
Kumar Sangakkara to Prasanna Jayawardene
Wait: 6 years
As early as 1998, Prasanna Jayawardene, still only 18, was touted as a future Sri Lanka wicket-keeper, and he looked ripe to take over the gloves from the aging Romesh Kaluwitharana. He even made his Test debut a few months before Kumar Sangakkara in 2000, and appeared in 5 unsuccessful Tests in four years. But it wasn’t until 2006, that he became the premier custodian after Sangakkara relinquished the gloves in order to focus more on his batting.