Davies can take a firm grip on wicketkeeper's gloves
England's latest new wicketkeeper is Steve Davies. Given the tendency of selectors to expect the men in this position to combine the talents of Don Bradman with the bat and Alan Knott with the gloves, so making Adam Gilchrist seem an underachiever, he ought not to get too comfortable.
Having been selected for the first time as first choice in the one-day series beginning against Pakistan tomorrow, however, Davies must be given a decent run. With 12 one-day matches between now and the 2011 World Cup, whether he is in the team for the tournament is now in his gloves – both sets, that is.
Davies might not have expected to wait so long for the call. He made his debut for his home county, Worcestershire, as a 16-year-old in 2002 and although he had to wait another three years to assume a permanent position in the first team, he has always been one for the future.
Selected by England A for the first time in March 2006, he has been the regular second-team keeper since, earmarked, it would seem, for something or other. There were two one-off matches, both when Matt Prior was injured or ill, the first in a Twenty20 match, the second in the Champions Trophy semi-final against Australia last year. England lost both.
During last winter, however, England's selectors alighted on Craig Kieswetter, an affair which had all the passion and intensity of love at first sight. As with many such liaisons, the initial, uncontainable ardour has worn off as Kieswetter's runs have, temporarily at least, dried up.
Davies was one of Surrey's legion of signings this season. There were those who feared that such a quiet and unassuming chap would find the move too much. Worcestershire, quiet, sleepy, rural Worcestershire seemed to fit his personality rather more than the city slickers at Surrey.
But he fitted in immediately and when nobody else could make a run at the start of the summer he carried the batting. Pressed into service briefly as Championship opener, he has averaged almost 50 in that competition and is the county's leading one-day run scorer.
Neat with the gloves, he can also be spectacular. England decided they must make another change, overlooking the estimable Test keeper, Matt Prior, on the grounds that their long investment in his one-day stock has yielded insufficient reward.
Davies took over from Kieswetter as keeper in the two Twenty20 matches against Pakistan this week and effected a smart leg-side stumping off Graeme Swann in the first. England go through keeper-batsmen as if they were truffles at a gourmands' feast, but Davies has been given his opportunity at last.
* Kevin Pietersen will join South African provincial team KwaZulu-Natal Inland for two matches in October ahead of the Ashes. He is seeking clearance from Cricket South Africa to play two four-day matches from 7 to 17 October, the England and Wales Cricket Board said yesterday.
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