Jones puts pressure on Read

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The Independent Online

England's performance during the first two days of their practice match against the Carib Beer XI has highlighted the discipline that Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan have instilled in their squad.

England's performance during the first two days of their practice match against the Carib Beer XI has highlighted the discipline that Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan have instilled in their squad.

In the past, games like this have been affected by the approach of those players who would rather sit the match out. This attitude has overshadowed the enthusiasm of those who see the game as an opportunity to push their claim for a Test place and it has led to some inept displays.

Following their comprehensive victories in Jamaica and Trinidad there is little chance of the team changing for the the third Test in Barbados but England did not let this detract from their performance. After bowling their opponents out for 129 on the first day they had moved themselves in to the commanding position of 285 for 6.

Graham Thorpe and Geraint Jones - who could have been expected to approach the match with quite different attitudes - put on 117. Thorpe is one of the players who might have preferred to spend some time on the beach but rather than fritter away the chance of some decent practice he used it wisely. His innings of 88 showed he is in excellent form.

Before now Jones has had few chances to impress the selectors. Chris Read has been reluctant to give his understudy a chance and yesterday we saw just why. Jones is considered to be the best batsman among England's wicket-keepers and yesterdays innings of 66 will have been watched closely by Read. The 26-year-old began nervously. He twice had his middle stump removed by Ravi Rampaul but the fast-bowlers celebrations were cut short by the umpires call of no-ball. But the Kent keeper's confidence grew and he eventually showed what a fine batsman he is. His driving and pulling was clean and three huge sixes indicated that he is not afraid to hit the ball over the top. Jones's innings ended when he chipped Jermain Lawson to mid-wicket on the stroke of tea.

Read will not know what to make of the last two days. On Friday he spent 48 overs fielding at mid-on and watched Jones take four catches and put in a tidy performance behind the stumps. Following his cheap dismissal yesterday he will realise that he needs to start scoring runs if he wishes to retain his Test place.

If Read is feeling sorry for himself he should consider the plight of Gareth Batty. For a month the Worcestershire all-rounder has been traipsing around the Caribbean with little chance of getting a game. But so far in this match he has not been invited to bowl.

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