I have written about my thoughts on wicket-keepers before. Chris Read, to my mind, has been shoddily treated by England despite probably being the best keeper in workld cricket today. A player with that amount of tatent in a single discipline should be viewed as a strength, in the same way that Monty Panesar has been embraced. And lets' get things into perspective. While Monty clearly works hard on his fielding and batting, he is still not a natural fielder and Read's batting is far superior to that of Monty.
However, this isn't about Chris Read. James Foster is another whose wicket-keeping skills have been conveniently forgotten about in the search for the new Alec Stewart. And it is this realistation that we are looking for a new Alec Stewart that worries me.
While we were in the pub after the game on Friday, I ended up at the toilet alongside Derek Pringle, which got me thinking. As worthy a county player as Pringle was, his career will always be associated with the search for the new Botham. And his isn't the only career to have suffered such high expectations. Chris Lewis, Phil DeFreitas, David Capel, Craig White, Dominic Cork, Ronnie Irani, Alex Tudor, Ben and Adam Hollioake and even Darren Gough all the way to Andrew Flintoff have to varying levels of success been touted as a new Botham.
Rather than concentrating on the basics and accepting the bonus when a genuine all-rounder came along, lesser players have been given an opportunity over specialists in the hope that bits and pieces will get the job done. Was Derek Pringle ever one of the best four bowlers in the country? I very much doubt it. Likewise, was David Capel ever worthy of his place in the England team as either a batsman or bowler? Absolutely not. Nowadays we seem to have jumped that hurdle with the batting bowling allrounder. Andrew Flintoff would make it into the England team purely on his bowling ability. Paul Collingwood is in for his batting - his bowling is a bonus.
We need to make the same jump with wicket-keepers. Is Matt Prior the best wicket-keeper in England? Of course he isn't. Was Geraint Jones ever an International standard wicket-keeper?These players should either have been in the team as a batsman or not at all. It's time England stopped looking for a "new Alec Stewart". We haven't got one at the moment (although Steve Davies looks promising for the future). Let's play the best we've got, and make sure our players do the job they are there to do. We now have real batsmen and real bowlers, rather than the bits and pieces players listed above. We need a real wicket-keeper.