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England's T20 victory highlights wicket-keeper conundrum - Peter Bills' Wide World of Sport [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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England's T20 victory highlights wicket-keeper conundrum [Jun. 15th, 2009|02:08 pm]
Peter Bills' Wide World of Sport
England were given a stark, powerful reminder of the basics of cricket in their T20 win over India.
James Foster's superb stumping which removed the dangerous Indian all-rounder Yuvraj, basically decided the match. There were plenty of other key moments but none as important as Yuvraj's dismissal, especially after he had blasted the first ball he faced over long on for six.
If the England selectors are wise, they will take heed from that dismissal. I said last month that England just could not afford to go into the Ashes series this summer with so sub-standard a wicketkeeper as Matt Prior.
Now I know all the arguments: Prior bats, he makes valuable runs and you can't do without a guy like that given the likely length of England's 'tail'. Or so we have been told. But I don't buy those views, especially now that Ryan Sidebottom may have forced his way back into the selectors thinking for the Ashes.
Lower down the order, Stuart Broad could well become a genuine all-rounder and Sidebottom can certainly bat. Graham Onions has made some valuable runs down there, too.  And Foster himself is perfectly capable of getting some valuable scores. Maybe not as many big runs as Prior but look at the positives of picking Foster.
The nightmare scenario, of Prior dropping someone like Ricky Ponting who then goes on to make 150 or even 200, is far, far less likely. Foster is a class act behind the wicket, as his stumping of Yuvraj reminded everyone. You cannot put a price on such high quality glove work.
Dismissing the Aussies twice is what will decide the Ashes, far more so than the runs England make.  They could rack up 5 or 600 each time they bat but if they can't bowl out the Australians and don't take their chances in the field, they have no hope of winning games. That is where
Foster comes in. He can snatch a wicket out of nowhere and nothing, as Sunday's match against India proved.
To me, you simply cannot leave out your best wicketkeeper in favour of a guy who drops catches, can't collect the ball tidily and is at best erratic behind the wicket. 
Foster has made a compelling case for his inclusion.