Spring in the step gives Jones a helping hand

These days international wicketkeepers owe their jobs more to their ability with the bat than with the gloves. This was conclusively underlined when Geraint Jones was chosen in place of Chris Read in the West Indies. Read had performed impeccably behind the stumps in the first three Tests, but his shortage of runs counted irrevocably against him.

These days international wicketkeepers owe their jobs more to their ability with the bat than with the gloves. This was conclusively underlined when Geraint Jones was chosen in place of Chris Read in the West Indies. Read had performed impeccably behind the stumps in the first three Tests, but his shortage of runs counted irrevocably against him.

As the man in possession it was Jones who got the nod at the start of this summer. In the First Test against New Zealand at Lord's he made an excellent 46 and looked every inch a Test batsman. But this had to be set against a performance behind the stumps that would have been hardly adequate for a county keeper in the Second Division.

It highlighted the eternal wicketkeeping dichotomy. It is great to have a keeper batting at No 7 who is capable of scoring a hundred, but what if he drops, say, Brian Lara or Sachin Tendulkar before they have scored? After Lord's the choice of Jones ahead of Read seemed a false economy.

Then came the extraordinary transformation of Jones at Headingley. In New Zealand's long first innings his keeping was no better. But then, when England batted, Jones scored a magnificent hundred on a deteriorating pitch and gave England a match-winning first-innings lead. His extravagant celebrations when he reached three figures showed that the importance of what he had done had not been lost on him.

Brimming with confidence, he now pulled on those unlikely looking orange gloves and one soon had to look twice to make sure that he was the same man as the fumble-fisted, iron-gloved keeper of the first innings. Suddenly his hands were moving like those of a high-class specialist keeper; the ball was now sinking easily and rhythmically into his gloves; he took two outstanding catches and looked the part in every sense. It was a remarkable metamorphosis and the reason for it must have beenthat often elusive will-o'-the-wisp called confidence which was now flowing with abundance through every part of his being.

He did not leave this exciting form behind him at Headingley either, for he has kept splendidly here. He has shown a safe pair of hands when standing back and once or twice stretched himself to make some spectacular takes down the leg side. The aspect of his keeping which has been a revelation is the way in which he has coped with Ashley Giles when standing up to the stumps.

Jones scarcely made a false move and when Giles strayed down the leg side to the left-handers, Jones's footwork, invariably taking him into the right position, has been matched by his sure glovework. It is noticeable too that Jones is no longer making the crucial wicketkeeping mistake of getting up too soon. It is so important that a keeper should stay down until the last possible moment. This has always been a hallmark of the great wicketkeepers from Don Tallon and Wally Grout to Godfrey Evans, Alan Knott and the others.

One can only applaud the judgement of the England coach Duncan Fletcher in all of this, for it was he who was the principal voice in making the difficult decision to drop Read at the end of the tour to the West Indies - even though he might have been having his doubts after the recent Lord's Test.

David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, may have found the decision to leave Read out of the one-day squad yesterday extremely difficult to make, but after all of this it would surely have been impossible to omit Jones, not least because it might have dented this crucial, new-found confidence.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried