14 February 2007

Anyone but ...

So Paul Nixon has been selected as England's only wicket-keeper in the Cricket World Cup. I am bound to ask "Why?!"

Consider the following statistics from cricinfo.com:

England Career (one-day internationals)

Player/ Matches/Runs/Highest Score/Average

Nixon 10/ 104/ 49/11.55

Read 36/300/30*/17.64

Jones 49/815/80/24.69

The natural conclusion from this evidence is:

if you want a world-class wicketkeeper who can bat, pick Chris Read;

if you want a batsman who is a barely competent 'keeper standing back, pick Geraint Jones.

Nixon is neither Read nor Jones!

He is however Duncan Fletcher's latest choice as England wicket-keeper! As the Americans say: "Go figure!"

One would be hard pressed to figure out Fletcher's selection policy at wicket-keeper - particuarly if one were Jones or Read!

As recently as the beginning of England's disastrous tour of Australia, Fletcher was lauding Jones as the best man for the job. This at least had the virtue of consistency, since Fletcher had given Jones an extended run in the side, despite his lack of success.

Then the coach generously allowed Read his customary 2 games (in a completely demoralised team, at the end of an Ashes series which had already been lost).

Then he plucked Nixon from a career in county cricket - with the singularly underwhelming results chronicled above. And many of those innings were played from No 8 in the order, whereas Jones and Read had batted at 7.

But Nixon it is for the World Cup. Again: "Why?!"

The inescapable conclusion is the one posted by a contributor to a BBC cricket forum a few days ago: Fletcher's policy regarding the selection of England's wicket-keeper is in fact very simple:

"Anyone but Read".

Well, I now have a similar view regarding the post of England Cricket Coach:

"Anyone but Fletcher!"

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