A statistical coincidence

Just a point England’s selectors might want to consider before they pencil in Matt Prior’s name for the squad to tour Sri Lanka tomorrow.

Here are Matt Prior’s Test figures:

7 matches, 397 runs, average 39.7, 1 century, strike rate 64.86, 20 catches.

And here are Geraint Jones’ Test figures at the same stage of his career:

7 matches, 337 runs, average 37.4, 1 century, strike rate 59.43, 21 catches.

I’m not sure what conclusions we can reliably draw from those figures, but it’s quite creepy nonetheless.

Understudy tourists

England will soon have to pick its squad for the winter tours and the three understudy roles up for grabs are those of top-three batsman, wicketkeeper and spinner. My calls for Bob Key were largely dismissed, so I’ll move on to the ‘keeper, who will start as Matt Prior’s back-up, but may get a crack if the Sussex man drops Sangakkara on 0 and becomes Murali’s latest bunny.

It seems England now have an embarrassment of riches at keeper with several stumpers scoring regular runs this season. Foster, Ambrose, Mustard, Read, Jones, Batty have all scored well. Read and Jones have likely had their turn, but Foster may be due another one? Ambrose has been excellent too. Tricky. Mustard must be in line for ODIs, because he’s brilliant at the top of the order for Durham. It’s a shame for Steven Davies that Worcestershire have hardly played this season.

Spinners are more of a quandary. I don’t agree that Pietersen and Vaughan can fill in the gaps. We need a genuine spinner to support Monty, especially in Sri Lanka. The problem is that, as ever, there are no English spinners topping the charts, although I can’t see what Graeme Swann has done to upset the selectors. He would do alright. Adil Rashid has great potential and can bat too. As can Alex Loudon. But would any of them bowl out Sri Lanka? I’m at a loss.

Bring back Shaggy?!

Jones! Bowden!

Where were you for the Edgbaston climax in 2005? I was driving home in a car that only had FM, so I had to get updates from Michael Parkinson on Radio Two. Happily, the old cove would regularly interrupt his guests to give details, but all the same I missed the Jones!! Bowden!! Kasprowicz!! finale.

Harmison, Jones, Kasprowicz

I mention it because I now know what it must have felt like to be Michael Vaughan that day. OK, so the stakes were a little lower in our South Cotswolds Division Three clash last Saturday, but the match situation was very similar. They were chasing 230-odd and we had them 190 for 9 with six overs left. Numbers nine and eleven at the crease. A formality or so we thought. But somehow, the ball kept missing the stumps and fielders, and we began to panic. Before we realised what had happened, they needed 11 to win off the last over. Still ours to lose, right?

A couple of good balls and a decent stop on the third man boundary brought it to eight needed off three, with the better batsman on strike. ‘Give him the single, lads!’ So we drop back five paces and he duly clips it to mid off. ‘Hold the ball!’ We now have the rabbit on strike and he needs seven off two. Game over.

But no! Wait! Mid-off has not held the ball, but instead he has slung it at the non-striker’s end. It misses by a yard and I fluff backing it up (it bobbled, honest!). They run a second. Six off two, with the better batsman on strike.

The next ball goes over cover’s head for four. Two to win, last ball. What do you do? Stop the single and win; or give them one and take the tie? Mostly we did neither. Some came in, some drifted, others minced about. Our heads were scrambled. How Harmison was even able to grip the ball, let alone bowl it, I have no idea! How Jones could have felt his legs, let alone move them!

I dropped in to a short-ish mid-wicket and the ball was chipped over my head for the winning two runs. Had I stayed where I was, it would have been an easy catch, with Richie Benaud crying out my name (in my head). Time will tell if I’m picked for next week’s match….

Should Geraint Jones retire?

Well someone had to ask. Should Geraint Jones retire? Even by his own disappointing standards, his performance in this Test verged on the comical, culminating in a ridiculous, careless dismissal today when he was run out by Ponting at silly mid-off (I think that’s where he was, anyway).

Time to go? He’s on the selection panel for this series and, seeing as Duncan Fletcher won’t sack/drop anyone who helped win the Ashes in 2005, perhaps it’s time Jones did it for him. Desperate times call for outlandish remarks…

Jones versus Read (vote)

It was inevitable. Certainly in my eyes, anyway. Duncan Fletcher has a memory like an elephant, and an intense loyalty to those who have \”been there and done that\” (come to the party, put their hand up, etc.). Chris Read has done neither. The cynic in me ponders whether this was a master plan by Fletcher. Sack Read; send a rocket up Jones\’ backside to get him fired up; wait for Read to fail before reinstating Jones on the grounds of Read\’s inadequacies. The wicketkeeping debate is then quietened for another few months and Fletcher looks like a savior.

Should Jones have a poor Ashes series – and you can almost guarantee Read won\’t play a single Test in Australia – then we\’ll be back to square one. But for now, Fletcher\’s got his own way – and I\’m glad with the decision too. Read is the best keeper in the country by a distance but, with willow in hand, is little more than a rabbit in the headlights in Test matches. Since reinstating him in the summer, Read has done his cause no good; he has dropped some uncharacteristic clangers, too.

The duel between the two has been rolling on furiously on the blog, so it\’s high time we opened it up to you lot. Good decision? Vote, then leave a comment. (if you can\’t see the voting thing below, click here).

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England XI vs New South Wales

It’s the tour match no one is talking about. Literally. After the shocking performance the other night, the first 3-dayer got a couple of mentions. But tonight, after consulting both my web sources (Cricinfo, naturally, and the Beeb) and finally the last resort of 24 hour news (Sky Sports, Sky, BBC) I’ve come to the conclusion that Britain is in some kind of denial. For a while I thought I was getting the date wrong.

The BBC now seem to be paying enough attention to note that England have lost the toss and have taken the field. As with most warm ups these days, England have managed to convince the opposition to let them field almost their entire squad in some way or another. Of the 14 players taking part, 11 may bat. Not making even the initial cut are Chris Read and Liam Plunkett.

I’m not sure which I’m more interested in. Some kind of live coverage? Or an accurate measurement of the size of Geraint Jones’ smirk?

Update: Cricinfo are back in the race! Click here for the scorecard. It isn’t linked from the main page. Cricket Australia seem to be slightly quicker in updating at the moment.

England win a one-day international

How dastardly rude of them. It’s just not the done thing in England circles, ending tours on a high. How dare they? Did anyone else laugh at the fireworks at the end? How inappropriate can you get?

Nice to see them win though. Me and my editor have been musing on them all day, almost praying they’d lose just to ease our final pieces. Mine’s here and his is there.

Also…why have I not written more about Michael Yardy? I’m sure he’s a terrific bloke but I’m unconvinced he should be playing cricket (for England). As for Chris Read, well…say goodbye to Brisbane I’m afraid. Geraint Jones was like a pig in proverbial at Sky…

Time for wine.

England drop Geraint Jones

Chris Read replaces him. Very interesting. Thoughts later. Read Cricinfo. It’s good. Leave your comments below, immediately.

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Review: Eng v Pak, Lord’s

The end of a Test match involving England usually sounds the death knell for Geraint Jones; if not his execution then he, or his supporters, are certainly called to account. Sure enough, readers of The Corridor have been sounding off much to my interest. Head over to this post which I wrote last year; around 85 comments have been left since then, and 10 or so left today alone after the end of the first Test against Pakistan.

He didn’t score runs of great significance in this Test but, it must be said, his wicketkeeping was (very nearly) faultless.

Chris Read hits hundred against Pakistan

Chris Read pulling for four
Copyright AP

Chris Read has hit a hundred against the touring Pakistanis. I wonder whether Geraint Jones rather wishes he was playing for England A to get some practice. When bad light stopped play, Read was unbeaten on 120 (scorecard). Well done that man. I still think Jones will play in the Ashes, rightly or wrongly; the decision (I believe) has been made.

Read, at the very least, should play in the one-day side. On that thoughtful note, I’m off to drink London dry.