Jones deserves glory but wicketkeeper debate is not easily dropped

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The Independent Online

The argument about Jones has never included doubts about the level of his commitment or fighting nature. It is a technical matter with huge implications in a Test series as finely balanced as the one which gripped the nation on Sunday. The big question did not dissolve when Jones took the match-winning catch - a good one in any circumstances and one touched by the miraculous in those which existed when Michael Kasprowicz fell so near to the finish line.

But did it answer that all important question: is Jones an authentic Test wicketkeeper? At both Lord's and Edgbaston there were times when he looked less than that and this uncomfortable fact did not go away in the euphoria of England's victory.

England's coach, Duncan Fletcher, believes that in the modern game the specialist wicketkeeper is a luxury that cannot be afforded. But then can the alternative, a batsman of less than the highest class who is prone to making mistakes behind the stumps? How many runs does this man have to make if he drops a Ricky Ponting or a Michael Clarke? It is a disturbing enquiry.

Few within the game doubt that Nottinghamshire's currently injured Chris Read is in a distinctly higher class as a gloveman and would walk into the team if his batting was a little better. When Rod Marsh, the former Australian wicketkeeper, and considerable batsman, was appointed by the England and Wales Cricket Board to pinpoint the best young players he was emphatic that Read had the quality to perform at the highest level.

Now Geraint Jones, with impressive fortitude, has further complicated the issue with the most significant catch of his career. But he has not settled the debate. Glory comes and goes. A certain talent is permanent.

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