Keeping Confusion: Prior In For Davies

19 01 2011

Particularly until the advent of central contracts, but even since then to a large degree, there have been few constants in the England cricket team. Players come and go, coaches do the same, and despite levels of success having improved since the dire days of nineties cricket, results have done much the same thing too. In amongst this little lot there has been one position that has changed above all – that of England wicket-keeper – and this tendency to chop and change shows no sign of abating.

While the situation does not even closely rival the Australian spin situation – a dozen or so spinners since the great Shane Warne’s retirement in 2007 – it is hardly an ideal one. Partly this lack of clarity has been caused by the different demands of each cricketing format but some, it has to be said, has been down to a mixture of poor selecting and simple mediocrity amongst the players chosen.

In the latest about face, Matt Prior has come back into the ODI fold having displaced Steven Davies for the Cricket World Cup. Prior is of course the established and much improved test match keeper with an argument to be the best in the world in this format, yet in ODI’s has, on the whole, flattered to deceive. Like the reinvigorated Bell, the England management are banking on England and Prior’s recent successes to imbue him with the confidence required to succeed. There is little doubt that as a batsman he has the capabilities although this, as in the case of Michael Vaughan, does not always guarantee success.

Davies could be justified for feeling a little disgruntled although the management are probably justified in his removal despite a reasonable record in his opening handful of ODI’s. As we mentioned the other day, we would have picked Davies in our squad in the interests of consistency and giving a young player with huge potential a chance, yet it is also difficult to find fault with the selectors eventual choice.

Part of the problem in our view has been how the role of the wicket keeper, particularly in the limited overs formats, has been interpreted. It is probably possible to blame that once in a generation talent, Adam Gilchrist, for this although it is worth mentioning Romesh Kaluwitharana in the same breath for his exploits as keeper/batsman at the 1996 world cup.

As exciting as the Sri Lankan was though, it was Gilchrist who took this role to the heights and should indirectly shoulder some of the blame for England’s keeping dilemmas. Ever since he started opening for Australia, England’s selectors have been trying to find someone to emulate him as apparently that is the de facto position for any international keeper to bat these days.

Phil Mustard, Craig Kieswetter, Matt Prior (once already) and Steven Davies have now all been tried and discarded in this role and we hope that with Prior’s second coming in this format he will not be asked to reprise this role. Class batsman that he is, we would rather see Bell given the chance to build an innings and become the man to score big runs at the top of the order. Prior should slot in at six or seven and become a player capable of either rebuilding in times of crisis or blasting a quick 40 in the last ten overs. If he can do this he will become an integral part of England’s plans across all formats for many years to come.

Players used by England as designated wicket keepers through the last 10 years in all international formats: (Click here)




2 responses

20 01 2011

I think the selectors have handled this a touch poorly; it has been the first bizarre move by them in a long while.

I think Davies has been fine through the twenty20s and the first ODI, they say they picked him because he was suited to Oz conditions yet they knew he would only play 1 game if that was the case, because why would he play all 7 if he was not going to the WC, especially as Prior has been out of the ODI side for such a length of time.

Flower is right, no one has grabbed it with two hands, and it has obviously been a tough choice for them, but I do feel for Davies. He is a class player and has been for a while now with Worcs & Surrey, in my opinion he is the future Test keeper at least.

20 01 2011

Agreed. Well summarised!

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