Jones keeps up his case for exclusion

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The Independent Online

The pressure continues to build on the England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones after yet another cheap dismissal yesterday. It was not the ideal way to celebrate his 30th birthday.

However, he is the fastest England wicketkeeper to reach 100 dismissals - in 27 Tests and on this ground two months ago, against Sri Lanka - and his ratio of victims per innings, 2.0, compares favourably with that of Jack Russell (1.72) and is far superior to 13 other keepers who have played more than 20 Tests.

His ratio of byes conceded per 100 runs is also impressive at 1.58, better than another Kent wicketkeeper, the great Godfrey Evans (1.73), although behind yet another from that county, Alan Knott, at 0.93.

On the down side, despite an obvious technical improvement in his keeping, he still has an alarming tendency to drop catches. One survey after the first Test against Sri Lanka in May had his total of drops in the previous 12 months at a worrying 13.

His batting appears to be in decline and yet according to the England coach Duncan Fletcher, Jones is in the side to score runs.

He was out yesterday sweeping, not for the first time. He is no slouch with the bat and he did score a century in his third Test, against New Zealand at Headingley two years ago. But that rich promise has seen a mere half-dozen scores over 50 in his subsequent 41 Test innings.

With each failure the cries have gone up in the shires for others to be given a chance. They are still wondering in Essex what on earth James Foster did in his paltry seven Tests that earned him his expulsion. Down on the coast Sussex's Matthew Prior most certainly has the batting qualities to satisfy Fletcher, but he is also a technically competent keeper who kept out the naturally gifted Tim Ambrose, forcing the Australia-born player to seek his fortune with Warwickshire.

But this season, in the opinion of many around the country, the most pressing claim has been that of Nottinghamshire's Chris Read.

The Devonian, who himself had to move from Gloucestershire, where he remained in the shadow of Russell, has been in superb form with the gloves this summer and few, including Fletcher, would argue that he is the best keeper in the country by a mile. He has superb hands, a flawless technique and most important of all, he can score runs.

He did so most emphatically in England A's recent match against Pakistan - ironically at the St Lawrence Ground, Jones's home patch in Canterbury. An unbeaten 150 seemed to provide plenty of reasons for the selectors to give Jones a chance to regroup with Kent, simultaneously allowing Read a deserved opportunity.

His last 10 Test innings

2006

* 18 v Pakistan, Lord's

* 6 & 19 v Sri Lanka, Trent Bridge * 4 v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

* 11 no v Sri Lanka, Lord's

* 3 & 1 v India, Mumbai

* 52 & 5 v India, Mohali

* 14 v India, Nagpur

Average in his last

10 Test innings: 14.78

Overall Test average: 26.67

Shot of the day

* England were 441 for 5 and their wicketkeeper, Geraint Jones, was under pressure when Paul Collingwood was finally dismissed for 186. The England stumper showed no nerves to begin with and went for his shots. The best of these came when he cut Mohammad Sami just over the cover-point boundary for six. It was a remarkable shot and it showed his intent.

Ball of the day

* Every now and then a batsman gets a ball he can do very little about. Faisal Iqbal received one of those from Stephen Harmison yesterday evening, spitting off a length and climbing on to the shoulder of his bat. As it flew towards the slip cordon Faisal must have felt he was safe but Paul Collingwood leaptand plucked it out of the air. A brilliant ball, an even better catch.

Moment of the day

* Losing a cricket ball in a ground containing 30,000 people is hard, but Pakistan managed it when Danish Kaneria booted the ball over the boundary in front of the Mound Stand. Five minutes were spent searching before the ball was found behind an advertising board, in a drainage pipe.

Weather

* Today Sunny with a maximum temperature of 24C.

Tomorrow Sunny with a max temp of 28C.

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