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A message to selectors: Keep keeping first

Jono Baruch Roar Rookie

By Jono Baruch, Jono Baruch is a Roar Rookie

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    It is the most important position and title in any cricket team, yet at the moment the Australian cricket team is in a bit of a crisis without a clue who our best wicketkeeper in the country is.

    Leading into another highly anticipated Ashes series and determined to make amends for the slip-up in the UK in 2015, the unsettling reality for the Australian team is that not only is the XI shaky and looking patchy with indifferent form, but it is also increasingly obvious that whoever they pick in the wicketkeeping position, there won’t be a great deal of confidence in the selection.

    Following the South African series last year Peter Nevill was fairly or unfairly dropped and Matthew Wade returned to the side, the reason cited being that Wade talked more in the field and provided more energy than Nevill. Wade was also chosen because he had Test experience and because his batting prowess would be of greater value to the team.

    This is the problem in one hit. It is the constant position that the Australian selectors keep on maintaining as their argument when it comes to picking not just keepers but other members of the team. We all remember when Rod Marsh famously picked Joe Mennie over Jackson Bird because he offered more with the bat.

    So the simple message to whoever is on the selection committee and is making the final call about the wicketkeeper is: pick the best keeper, not the best batsman.

    (Ross Setford/SNPA via AP)

    If you want to talk about batting and place emphasis on the contribution to the team with the bat, in the nine Tests that Matthew Wade has played since returning to the national team, his highest score has been 57 and he has averaged just 21 across 16 digs. While his keeping has improved somewhat, his work with the gloves is a far cry from what some of his interstate rivals can do.

    For some time now Peter Nevill has been the best gloveman in Australia. He takes the ball cleanly right in front of his eyes and is sharp behind the stumps. Considering Australia’s first-choice bowling attack, his state teammates should also have him higher up in the pecking order as he knows how to keep to them.

    He has 17 Test matches under his belt and a Test batting average of 22, which shows he is no mug with the bat, holding his own and playing some important roles on a number of occasions in his short Test career thus far. He has another opportunity this week against Queensland to put some runs on the board after missing a golden opportunity to go on with it last week against Western Australia.

    If we were picking the best gloveman, then Alex Carey from South Australia has to be in the conversation. While no keeper has put their hand up with the bat thus far, Carey’s glovework over the past two shield seasons have pushed him up the pecking order with his clean work behind the pegs for South Australia. A record-breaking 59 dismissals last shield season and a sprinkling of starts would have Carey right in the frame for a dream Ashes debut in less than two weeks.

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Among the other contenders is part-time keeper Cameron Bancroft, who is keeping the place of Sam Whiteman and showing off his batting prowess. He was selected for the cancelled tour of Bangladesh in 2015 and is looking the most promising option with his bat in hand. But do you take a punt on a part-time keeper who is making runs? The only part-time keeper I would be confident having behind the stumps would be AB De Villiers, and he isn’t an option.

    Elsewhere Tim Paine is still thereabouts in the selection frame, but it would appear that, barring a miracle, his name is nearly off the whiteboard given that the incumbent, Wade, is likely to take the gloves again this week for Tasmania in a bid to prove he is still the man for the job.

    While we all wait in anticipation for the squad announcement, we know there will be a few surprises, because it wouldn’t be an Australian squad without one. But when it comes to the position of the wicketkeeper, pick not the man with the most runs on the board but the man who you believe is the best with the keeping gloves on his hands crouched down behind the stumps.

    Of course, if they can’t make the decision and stick with the incumbent and back him in for the long haul, at the end of the day we are just going to have to get behind him and hope he delivers on the biggest stage.

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    The Crowd Says (42)

    • November 13th 2017 @ 2:55am
      Tanmoy Kar said | November 13th 2017 @ 2:55am | ! Report

      In a Test match particularly in the Ashes best wicket-keeper should be chosen, hence Nevill should be at No.7. Maxwell will not be suitable in Australian condition, hence either Cartwright or Stoinis should come at No.6. If C.A. thinks 4 bowlers are enough then Lehmann man be chosen at No.6. In opening, Renshaw should be given at least two Test to prove his utility. Regarding other positions there is no confusion.

      • November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am
        Curious George said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        Tanmoy, great comments đŸ™‚

        4 bowlers will be enough

        Give Lehmann a crack @ 6. Not maxwell. not wade. not maddinson (god forbid), not henriques (i would boycott the ashes)

        When is the squad announced?

      • November 13th 2017 @ 8:52am
        Ben said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        “Maxwell will not be suitable in Australian condition”
        What makes you say that?
        He didn’t have an opportunity last season having to bat after Wade.
        If he was good enough to get a 100 in Asian conditions he should be able to play in Australian conditions.
        Both Cartwright and Stoinis would need a big score this match to be ahead of Maxwell.
        I would pick Lehman ahead of Stoinis.

        • November 13th 2017 @ 9:08am
          Curious George said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          Benny,

          Maxwell will be picked. It is a foregone conclusion.

          Stonis should be nowhere near the test side. A few hit n giggle innins doth not maketh a test player.

          Lehman sadly wont be picked cos of his old fella.

          • November 13th 2017 @ 12:39pm
            Ben said | November 13th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            I agree on stoinis.
            Lehman will have a future if he has a good season.

          • November 13th 2017 @ 12:56pm
            Basil said | November 13th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Poor guy…What’s wrong with his old fella?

        • Roar Guru

          November 13th 2017 @ 7:48pm
          Cadfael said | November 13th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

          Maxwell was out for 4 today.Wade wasn’t much better.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 7:13am
      Not so super said | November 13th 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Typical cliche response from an amateur
      Pick the best keeper
      I’ll actually allow people that have played 100s of tests to use their criteria to decide who should be keeper

      • Roar Guru

        November 13th 2017 @ 7:50pm
        Cadfael said | November 13th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

        Wade. We lost the first test against Bangladesh by 20 runs. Wade let 34 byes through. Good enough for the 100 test selectors?

        • Roar Guru

          November 13th 2017 @ 9:18pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

          In the first innings of that test, Wade let through 15 byes. The Bangladesh keeper also let through 15 byes in Australia’s first innings. In the second Wade let through another 15 and the Bangladesh keeper did better, only allowing through 7 or something. But overall, the net bye count between the two keepers was only something like 7-8 byes for the match. It was tough conditions and even the local keeper let through a lot of byes. Just this afternoon I watched a little of the NSW v QLD match and saw Lyon bowl a regulation off break that got some turn, beat Khawaja’s edge and Nevill didn’t lay a hand on it as it went for four byes.

          I’m not a fan of Wade, but the big issue is that we don’t necessarily have a keeper in Australia who wouldn’t let through byes against spinners on a turning pitch.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 8:10am
      blanco said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      If you’re keeping the best keeper and this keeper is a 20 average batsman, he shouldn’t be batting at 7. Particularly if your number 8, Starc says hi , averages more than him and has shown more with the bat. If Neville is the answer than I’m afraid we are in bigger trouble than we realize. The keeper needs to be a competent enough bat at test level, particularly because he will be batting at seven. If selectors believe Neville can contribute meaningfully with the bat, then sure they should pick him. I have my doubts though.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 13th 2017 @ 2:38pm
        Dogs Boddy said | November 13th 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

        Nope, leave the keeper at 7.

        It’s got far more to do than with just batting averages. The bowlers need a rest, which is why you bat them last. Yes Starc might have a better average but if Neville can put in a 30-60 it gives him more time in the sheds.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 8:42am
      Curious George said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      When is the squad actually announced???!?!

      Do the selectors realise the 1st test is in 10 days time??

      No time to prepare as a team. What a disgrace!

      • November 14th 2017 @ 10:05am
        not so super said | November 14th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        yeah, Wade can not bat either

    • Roar Guru

      November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am
      Chris Kettlewell said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      One of the big problems with this argument is that Nevill has actually made a number of mistakes with the gloves of late, dropping catches he really should take and the like. In the NSW v WA match (sure, it’s only one match and was dominated by pace bowling for both teams without a lot of difficult keeping to be done) Bancroft probably out-kept Nevill, not just out-batted him.

      The issue isn’t actually one of batting v keeping. The issue is the keepers who were being considered for supposedly being better batsmen have not been scoring runs, and the keepers who’ve been considered as being the better actual keeper have been dropping catches.

      If it was a case of a flawless keeper who’s struggled with the bat versus a flawed keeper who’s scoring runs, then I’d get the number of these sorts of arguments we’ve been seeing on here. But that’s not the situation we are in.

      • November 13th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Jameswm said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Geez if it was line ball in keeping ability in the WA v NSW game, then picking Bancroft is a no brainer. Is he that good? What about to spinners?

        • November 13th 2017 @ 9:42am
          BurgyGreen said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

          This is the thing. I can’t get behind Bancroft if he’s going to drop all of Lyon’s chances like Wade did when he first played Tests. With the first Test so near and little time for squad training, I do wonder if the selectors are willing to play a keeper who’s not familiar to the bowlers, Lyon especially.

          • Roar Guru

            November 13th 2017 @ 9:23pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

            What makes you think he is? People call him a part time keeper, but as far as I can tell he is a genuine keeper, but due to the 1 wicket keeper per team thing, he couldn’t make the WA team as a keeper, (which, as previously stated, doesn’t even mean that the guy ahead of you is better, if the incumbent isn’t doing much wrong they don’t tend to get replaced, even Gilly had to move interstate to get a chance despite being much better than the guy who was ahead of him in NSW) but because he was good enough to make it as a batsman he did that, and enjoyed opening the batting.

            The fact that he’s good enough to play as a batsman, and hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to keep at first class level, doesn’t automatically mean he’s some part-time keeper who isn’t good enough.

            I’m not saying he’s a great keeper either. I haven’t seen enough of him keeping to make that judgement, just stating that him playing most of his first class career as a batsman doesn’t mean he isn’t actually a really good keeper.

          • November 14th 2017 @ 12:58am
            Don Freo said | November 14th 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

            Didn’t you watch him keep to the Chinaman bowling of D’Arcy Short in the JLT?

      • November 13th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        Perry Bridge said | November 13th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        The irony of course is that Nevill’s keeping seems to have dropped away a tad – so there seem to be people basing an argument based upon a position adopted perhaps 12-24 months back.

        The other irony is that Wade was actually quite good by the Bangladesh tour where his ability up to the stumps had improved to the extent that he was executing high degree of difficulty dismissals standing up to the stumps (he was technically much improved, staying lower longer).

        So – on the back of the last test matches played – as a keeper Wade can be argued to deserve retention.

        As has been suggested by some – it was a mistake to drop Nevill for Wade when that was done – however – it would equally be a mistake to drop Wade now for Nevill.

        re the others – yeah nah. (which probably means – look out for the selectors to pick someone out of the blue).

        • Roar Guru

          November 13th 2017 @ 11:27pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | November 13th 2017 @ 11:27pm | ! Report

          Watching back the highlights of the first day of NSW v QLD just then also there was one where Swepson edged it and it bisected keeper and first slip, no more than half a metre from Nevill’s right hand, and he didn’t even move for it. That’s one thing I’ve seen from him way too often to be a top flight keeper, balls like that which are 100% clearly a keepers catch and he hasn’t even moved to go for it. So it technically doesn’t go down as a drop, but it’s a catch he should have taken.

          Really, I don’t see how there’s any argument for Nevill as a better keeper at the moment. He makes way too many mistakes with the gloves. And his batting is certainly not enough to make up for that.

      • Columnist

        November 14th 2017 @ 12:16am
        Ronan O'Connell said | November 14th 2017 @ 12:16am | ! Report

        I agree Chris, Nevill is over rated as a keeper.

        His glovework during his Test stint was merely ok, rather than great, and he’s been sloppy behind the stumps so far in this Shield season.

        Nevill’s reputation as a gloveman is inflated in a large part because of comparisons with the woeful keeping of Wade.

        Bancroft clearly kept better than Nevill in the WA v NSW game last week. That doesn’t mean Bancroft should be the Test keeper but it does put into perspective the regular claims from fans that Nevill is a great keeper and Bancroft clueless.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Jameswm said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      I do take issue with this:

      “the unsettling reality for the Australian team is that not only is the XI shaky and looking patchy with indifferent form”.

      Really?
      Warner – scored big 1st Shield game
      Khawaja averaging over 70 this season and no failures
      Smith scored big 2nd Shield game
      Handscomb a 40 and 50 last game
      Cartwright/Maxwell/Lehmann have all scored runs
      Starc in career best form – an 8-for and 2 hat tricks, in 2 games!
      Hazey back one game and ripped the WA top order to shreds
      Lyon always reliable
      Cummins bowling well

      The XI is looking shaky? If Bancroft bats 7, just about the lot are close to career best form, and playing in Australia where they all usually excel.

      I reckon the team is looking strong with just the usual question mark at 6 and 7. I’d go the best batsman at 6 and ignore the bowling (so Cartwright or Lehmann), and if Bancroft is close to as good a keeper as Nevill (as he apparently is), then Bancroft at 7.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 13th 2017 @ 9:48am
        Jono Baruch said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        please let me clear something up. when i was referring to the XI looking shaky i was referring to the indifferent form of some of the players in the team. Renshaw has hardly his a run this shield season. same as Warner but we all seemingly know what we are going to get from him. Khawaja and Smith were tuning up nicely as was Handscomb but even he hasnt made as much runs as he would have liked. then the debate rages over 6 and 7 and then its the bowlers who we will again rely upon to do the job because our bats are a little out of form. its a strong statement but one one that i think is just but all can change after this shield round.

        • November 13th 2017 @ 11:40am
          Jameswm said | November 13th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

          Renshaw is the only one, apart from 6 and 7. And if Bancroft bats at 7, we look a lot less shaky.

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