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Chris Read talks about how unprepared he was for Test cricket, lessons from Stephen Fleming, and that slower ball from Chris Cairns
Interview by Jack Wilson
April 23, 2014
You were 20 when you made your England debut. How hard was it for someone so young to adapt to life at the top level?
It was tough. Looking back, I don't think I knew what I was getting into. There was no Lions, there was no England Performance Programme, and I wasn't as prepared as they are now. I'd been on a couple of England A tours but there was nothing like Test match cricket.
Was that as much off the pitch as on it?
Off it, mainly. The intensity and the media scrutiny was a massive change. I'd been a consistent member of Nottinghamshire's first team for 14 months and I'd only played 18 first-class games. I was far from the complete cricketer. I was learning my trade.
It always seemed to be Chris Read v Geraint Jones. What were relations like between you two?
It was built up as a battle between us two but the underlying battle was probably between two of the selectors: Duncan Fletcher and Rod Marsh. I don't think there was any animosity between us. We worked hard together, as wicketkeepers do, and both wished each other luck when we went in and out. We just got on with it.
You will go down in Test history for taking six dismissals in an innings twice in a row. Are you one for stats like that?
I'm not a massive stats man but at the same time I will look back and be immensely proud of that. We lost both of the games I got six in, which made it even harder to do really, but any wicketkeeper will tell you it's about the bowling.
So if I asked how many catches you have taken in professional cricket, would you get anywhere close?
I'd be miles off.
Have a guess.
No idea - I think I'm close to 1000 in first-class cricket, though. Do I need something like 100 more?
In first-class cricket, you're on 863. In all forms, 1284.
I have to mention that Chris Cairns slower ball. It's got over 200,000 hits on Youtube. Do you ever watch it?
I couldn't avoid it. I used to love watching They Think It's All Over. Then they put me getting out on the title credits!
Talk us through what happened.
It's the first and only time I didn't see the ball at any stage. Chris Cairns realised he was on to something because the sightscreen at Lord's didn't have any additional screening above it. He'd done the same thing to Aftab Habib, and he ducked like I did and it just missed the leg stump. I didn't think anything of it.
When he ran up I assumed he hadn't let go off the ball. Then something in my subconscious thought I needed to protect myself and I ended up looking pretty stupid. The first thing I can remember is the soft thud before it hit the stumps. I was more shocked than anything.
You took over the Nottinghamshire captaincy from a man regarded as one of the best in the business, Stephen Fleming. What did you learn from him?
So much. The biggest thing was to keep a level head, to keep calm and to be able to step away from the heat of the battle. He always would have a plan A and would get everyone behind it and we'd love it. He was very methodical and calm.
Who is the best gloveman you have ever seen?
For consistency, Ian Healy. He was technically sound to all bowling and rarely put a foot wrong.
What about English keepers?
Jack Russell and Keith Piper were two of a bunch of experienced glovemen that I watched growing up. Warren Hegg and Steve Rhodes were very good too. This was at a time where batting wasn't of as much importance and you could work harder on keeping.
What is the worst thing about being a wicketkeeper?
The stinking hands and smelly inners.
And the worst fashion sense?
Now this one is Samit. He always wears a black polo shirt, jeans and some brown brogues. That's his standard going-out gear.
Who is the most likely to be the victim of a prank?
Steve Mullaney. He takes it the worst too.
Who hits the ball furthest in county cricket?
Alex Hales hits it a long way and so does Craig Kieswetter. I'll go with Halesey.
You need one player in the world to hit the last ball of a game for six. Who would you choose?
Kieron Pollard. He seems to block balls for six.
And if you needed a bowler to defend it?
Give us one name destined for a big future.
Jos Buttler. He gets me excited, there's a lot of talent there.
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