Chris Read is a wicketkeeper shaped in the mould of Godfrey Evans and Alan Knott, who both served Kent and England so magnificently, the former immediately after the last war, the latter in the late sixties and seventies. He is a bouncy chap with a real zest for keeping wicket and batting, especially in tight situations, and almost certainly for life as well.
He began his cricketing life in Paignton, in Devon, and moved to Nottinghamshire by way of Gloucestershire where he had found his passage blocked by an other bird of a similar feather, Jack Russell.
He was introduced to Test cricket four years ago when he played three Test Matches against New Zealand in 1999 and was then taken on tour to South Africa. After that, it was back to county cricket to polish his game especially when it came to standing close to the stumps. Then came the Academy and after a spell under the former Australian keeper, Rod Marsh, he looks the finished article.
He is one of those engaging players who obviously loves every moment of it all. His abundant perkiness speaks for itself. Like Evans and Knott, he is as much on his toes at the end of a long, hot day as he is at the start of it. He is always acting as the focal point for his fielders as the best keepers always do and on the evidence of the four one-day games so far, nothing escapes his gloves.
His overall efficiency is best summed up by the fact that he has gone unnoticed as a wicketkeeper, which is a sure sign that everything is working as it should. His catches have been straightforward so far, but one feels that at any moment he may take off to his left or right and come up with a real pearler. He fits so well into the pattern of England's one-day cricket and one hopes it won't be long before he is doing the same in the Test side.
But it has been Read's batting that has caught the attention in the last two games. At Lord's last Saturday he came in when England were losing the match fast to Pakistan. Suddenly he not only made Marcus Trescothick an admirable partner, but he also started to play some strokes of his own that were accomplished as well as being full of authority. He enabled Trescothick to win the match.
Now, at Trent Bridge, after England's middle order had been almost suffocated by Zimbabwe's admirable spinners Read arrived and mounted a counter-attack with some adventurous strokes mixed with some that were highly orthodox. He got the scoreboard moving again and assured England of a total, which, on this pitch, was competitive and it was no fault of his that they then lost.
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