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Ravindra Jadeja has been associated more with controversy than with meaningful contributions on the field on this tour to England. Lord's welcomed him with boos, but he hardly cared. He hardly cared his form was poor, he hardly cared that James Anderson had the new ball to vent his frustration. Jadeja sent England on a leather hunt and Sandeep Dwivedi, in Indian Express, says his innings epitomised his personality.
England had tried to wind up Jadeja but it hadn't worked. Had they checked with someone in the Saurashtra dressing room, they would have known that instigating Ravindra, or any other Jadeja, a community of warriors and rulers, is always counter-productive. His coach from school days in Jamnagar, Mahendrasinh Chauhan, had once spoken about this 'Jadeja mindset'. "Ravindra plays like a Jadeja. We are a very proud community and have a certain ego."
Matt Prior has had a torrid time behind the stumps in the Tests against India, conceding the equal most byes by an England wicketkeeper in a home Test since 1934 at Lord's. He hasn't been in form as a batsman, either. Osman Samiuddin, in his column for the National, sympathises with Prior and says that his lack of wicketkeeping form could be eating into his confidence as a batsman.
When they are not looking so lonely and miserable, we look at modern wicketkeepers as blessed, because they are now all-rounders. If they do have a bad day with the gloves, they can always better it with the bat.
On his good days, Prior was a handy batting enforcer, his momentum-changing capabilities outshining his glovework. Now though, even that has gone.
With Matt Prior having been dropped from the England Test side, and Jonny Bairstow's unconvincing form in Australia, the wicketkeeping position is up for grabs at the start of the season. The role very much needs involves producing sizeable runs these days as well as how good they are behind the stumps. In the Observer, Tim Lewis thinks back to a previous era when there was a battle between the keepers
The Taylor-Knott imbroglio was not a standard, frothy, sporting back-and-forth. It was not: should the England football team line up with Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines at left-back? It meant something. Your allegiance was a revealing comment on who you were and what you stood for. It was an aesthetic judgment, perhaps even metaphysical. A vote for Taylor showed you acknowledged the labours of a fine craftsman, that you could appreciate unshowy elegance, that you weren't distracted by razzle-dazzle. A preference for Knott, meanwhile, screamed that you were an ignorant heathen.
BJ Watling's match behind the stumps at Lord's came to an early end with a knee injury, but he had enjoyed an excellent outing with the gloves on a ground that has caught out many a keeper. Over the last 12 months he has become a central part of New Zealand's Test line up with bat and gloves, but he won't be shouting about it from the rooftops as Andrew Alderson explains in the New Zealand Herald
Watling doesn't publicly trumpet his achievements. Even on the field he could best be observed as buoyant or chirpy rather than extrovert. He appears reticent as far as keepers go, preferring to hear the thud of ball swallowed by gloves than his own voice. Besides, his statistics are doing the talking.
S Ram Mahesh, writing in the Sportstar, explores the phenomenon whereby the preference is for wicketkeepers who can contribute with the bat over those who are better at their primary role. A batting average of 32 for wicketkeepers after 2000 is significantly higher than that of 24 in the preceding 123 years, and it tells a story.
It was long known that the pure glovesman had disappeared, taking with him the mutton-chop whiskers he cultivated on his cheeks and the patchwork gloves into which, to better protect his palms, he slipped steaks of meat. But it's now clear that even the 'keeper-batsman who raised the level of his craft while swinging a subversive bat (Alan Knott, Rod Marsh, Jeff Dujon, Wasim Bari, Syed Kirmani, Ian Healy, Jack Russell, Adam Parore and Mark Boucher, for example) is facing obsolescence.
The reasons for teams to choose the better batsman over the better 'keeper -- indeed sometimes even convince a batsman to take up 'keeping -- aren't difficult to understand. Teams are forever chasing balance. And with the scarcity of genuine all-rounders, it is the wicketkeeper's spot that captains and coaches eye. Apparently it's easier to develop a 'keeper who can get by than a bowler who can take wickets or control runs.