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Australia need a keeper who catches, not one who chatters

If Peter Nevill is the best wicketkeeper in Australia, then that's the basis on which he should be picked for the Brisbane Test Getty Images

It was perplexing to read for about a week recently that the thing most needed from Australia's wicketkeeping candidates for the Gabba Test was runs.

Now I hear Steven Smith say: "I've spoken to Pete [Nevill]; we had a chat and I said I probably just need a little bit more from you, and I need you to drive the boys and get the boys up and about."

If that is shorthand for wanting Nevill to talk more on the field, then I disagree.

The three best wicketkeepers I've seen were Rod Marsh and Ian Healy from Australia and Alan Knott from England. All three had a few things in common: they were excellent glovemen, they were thoughtful and contributed ideas that helped the team take wickets, and they could bat.

That is the order of preference you should be looking for in wicketkeepers.

Runs from a wicketkeeper are handy but not if they come at the cost of dropped catches. Realistically, if the top six batsmen do their job then the wicketkeeper's runs are purely icing on the cake. If the top six aren't doing their job then it's unrealistic to expect every keeper to emulate Adam Gilchrist and mount successful counterattacks from No. 7.

It's even more incongruous to be talking runs as a priority from the Australian keeper when you have lower-order players of the capability of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. They are effective and even dangerous at times with the bat. Australia's current need in a wicketkeeper is the best gloveman in the country.

It's pointless having a good attack - as Australia currently have - if some of the chances they create go begging.

There's no doubt that fielding teams need the occasional jolt and it's generally the keeper who provides the stimulus.

If our side needed a lift in the field, Marsh would spend a short period going to the stumps after each delivery and have the fielders fire the ball over the stumps. In the main though, the keeper sets the standard in the field by his own work; if he's slick and catches everything that comes his way, it automatically keeps everyone on their toes.

As a captain I didn't want constant inane chatter in my ear. It's distracting and a skipper has enough to deal with in trying to dismiss the opposition without being annoyed by his own team-mates' antics.

What I wanted to hear from the keeper was an opinion on how the fast bowlers were faring and any ideas he might have about an opposing batsman's weakness. That and the occasional "well bowled" plus some regular appeals (only when he thought the batsman was out), because that meant the bowlers were on top.

Australia's choice of wicketkeeper for the first Test should come down to one simple matter: the best gloveman. If that happens to be Peter Nevill, he'll best serve his team by catching everything that comes his way, making helpful suggestions to his skipper and accumulating a few runs along the way.