February 6, 2009

England in West Indies 2008-09

Prior's the man to keep

Matt Prior, down on one knee, spanks four, West Indies v England, 1st Test, Kingston, 2nd day, February 5, 2009
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It is time to end the argument about who should be England’s wicketkeeper-batsman, or, to be more precise, batsman-wicketkeeper. Matt Prior showed again yesterday that, if the selectors are intent on fielding a player who can make Test fifties, hundreds even, and not let down the side with the gloves, then he is the man for the job, says Pat Gibson in the Times.

Steve James thinks as much in the Daily Telegraph.

Prior belongs. Every Test innings he has played has demonstrated as much. After 21 of them his average stands at 42. Yesterday was the seventh occasion on which he has passed fifty during that time. What more do you want from your gloveman? Yes, the romantics will carp at the pureness of his glovework.

But is it that bad? He makes mistakes, as he did here in letting a couple of balls slip beneath him, but so do all keepers. And so did all keepers. In England the glasses are spectacularly rose-tinted when looking back upon our former wicketkeepers. None of them dropped a catch, apparently. Indeed it came as a great shock when I watched on ESPN recently and witnessed Alan Knott dropping a dolly in a domestic cup final. Jack Russell shelled his share of catches too, including one on his Test debut. They were wonderful keepers, as, of course, was Bob Taylor, but it is all about perception.

In the Times, Simon Wilde applauds Andrew Strauss' decision not to write a newspaper column, and also looks at the real hero and villain among Pietersen and Flintoff.

It's not so much seize the day as pluck it, pluck it like a ripe apple from the tree and make it yours. So a Latin scholar explained to me, anyway. So, as we turn to the panoply of sport and look to its participants and its great occasions, we can ask: who has the talent for plucking? Kevin Pietersen does, says Simon Barnes in the same paper.

Mathew Varghese is sub-editor (stats) at Cricinfo

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