WICKETKEEPERS are traditionally small and garrulous. The two attributes are considered almost prerequisites for the job, so allowing the man with the gloves, goes the theory, to be close to the ground while constantly imploring his colleagues to greater efforts.
Robert Turner, the Somerset wicketkeeper, is 6ft 2in tall. This flies in the face of tradition by at least half a foot but grants him other advantages. The other day at Leicester, for instance, he dived full length and grasped a rapidly dropping ball miles and miles to his right, somewhere around the gully position.
'Yes, I was quite pleased with that,' he said. 'I suppose a normal keeper might have had trouble getting there.' It was clear that a normal-sized keeper would have been forced to wave the chance goodbye from a distance. It was a stunning catch.
Turner, 26, is comfortably the tallest keeper in the County Championship, though not alone in bursting through the time- honoured ceiling. Adrian Aymes (Hampshire), Paul Nixon (Leicestershire) and Peter Moores (Sussex) all claim to be six feet dead.
They may herald a new breed of giant wicketkeepers, forecast by no less an authority than Alan Knott, able to spread themselves like goalkeepers. Knott, the maestro, was himself of the expected proportions but he was perpetually stretching as though to make himself taller.
Turner, a Cambridge blue who broke into the Somerset side towards the end of last summer and has retained his place ahead of Neil Burns (5ft 10in) and Piran Holloway (a perfect 5ft 8in) this season, is unsure. 'Being tall gives an extra bit of reach,' he said, 'but I can see the plus part of being short when you've got to get down again quickly if a ball keeps low.'
He is also aware that he is not readily accepted. Already this summer at Taunton he has heard spectators' mutterings that he is far too long for a keeper (they should have been at Grace Road). 'It might be silly but it's in people's minds.' Nor can they know that he began keeping as a boy - 'to be in the game' - before he became tall.
And what of the other essential asset, the loudness? 'I like to keep the team going, but let's just say I'm not as eccentric as some.'
THE SCORECARD in county cricket is what passes for a match programme. It would, of course, be far too adventurous to suggest that there should be a real match programme, but some scorecards are better than others.
Nottinghamshire's, at 25p, is almost a thing of beauty. It contains not only the teams but brief details of opposition players, previous results and news items. Last week it revealed that D J Pipes, at 17 years and seven days, became one of the county's three youngest debutants when he appeared against Oxford University, the sort of information cricket watchers like to know.
At Leicestershire (flimsier and 30p) they do not believe in anything so fancy. There is no surplus information and names hardly get a look in. Last week, for example, the updated card on the second day, revealed next to batsman No 4, Mark Lathwell, c 7 b 11 11. This meant that Paul Nixon was the catcher, David Millns was the bowler but at Grace Road they prefer doing it by numbers.
EVERYBODY knows that county captains never get out leg before, because they have to report on the umpires' performance. It is human nature that nobody in the history of the game has admitted to being lbw, so it follows that an aggrieved skipper thus removed may accuse an umpire of all manner of shortcomings from blindness to ignorance.
A tidy seven out of ten mark can become a job-threatening three out of ten. Therefore, it doesn't happen. Actually it does.
By the end of the third series of Championship games played before Thursday 10 of the 18 county captains had been adjudged in front, 11 lbws in all, with Tim Curtis of Worcestershire twice being fingered. From some 100 lbw decisions in all, this represents a fearless proportion. An update on the captains' finger of fate presently.
QUOTE of the week: 'No chance at all. I was born in completely the wrong place.' - One of cricket's senior (uncapped) professionals, who was born in the south, suggesting that the new chairman of selectors may be predisposed to northerners.
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