Cricket / Second Test: Stewart's quandary

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The Independent Online
It is impossible not to feel sorry for Alec Stewart. He finds himself doing a job for England he does not want to do, which prevents him from opening the batting, the task he would most like to perform for which he is much better equipped.

The accepted practice now is to select a wicketkeeper because of his ability as a batsman as much as a keeper, thus devaluing the keeper.

Every now and then an Alan Knott comes along: a brilliant wicketkeeper who also bats as well as most and no questions are asked. For all his effort, Stewart is only a part-time wicketkeeper which, from time to time, is all too apparent.

The presence of a keeper who is a reputable batsman allows room for an extra bowler is all very well in theory. But when the fallibility of the keeping side of the equation becomes all too obvious, the whole principle can be seen to be a false economy.

The principle of choosing the best wicketkeeper is seen today as being hopelessly old- fashioned. Yet the life that Stewart gave Mark Taylor yesterday showed that this is another piece of modern theory which needs to be rethought.

The weaker your bowling the more important it is that the best keeper should play to increase the chances of every catch or stumping being taken. Can England afford Stewart, as a wicketkeeper, any longer?

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