Sounding Off

With the World Cup looming it was interesting and in some ways pleasing to have the clock turned back to the autumn and to hear that Chris Read had spoken of his disappointment at the way he was treated by Duncan Fletcher in the early stages of England's tour of Australia. Perhaps the only surprise was that he hadn't done so already, but then again it was hardly likely that he would start sounding off while the tour was still going on, especially as he did, eventually, make it back into the side at the expense of Fletcher's long-time favourite, Geraint Jones (and whatever happened to him?).

However, the relative moderation of Read's language (he gave a typically quietly-spoken and articulate interview in which he used the word 'bewildering' to describe his treatment) pointed to one of his central problems and perhaps the major reason, together with his batting, why he (and, in all probability, Jones) is history at Test level - the fact that, unlike the blessed Paul Nixon, he isn't (so those in authority doubtless think) quite voluble or aggressive enough. For weeks now the media's been full of the choicest cuts from Nixon's repertoire of sledges, and there's been little wrong with that, other than the fact that one likes to think that there should be a bit more store set on how well you can keep and bat, rather than how well (how crudely, how bluntly) you can wind up the opposition. This said, Nixon has ticked those boxes well enough too and appears to me to be nailed on to start the 2007 English season as England's Test keeper, unless something goes drastically wrong in the West Indies.

Unlike a good many people I was relatively ambivalent about the selection of Jones at the start of the Ashes series, mainly, I think, because I couldn't see Read functioning very well with the bat in Australian conditions and also because I reckoned that Fletcher never really liked Read anyway and seemed to have a bit of an obsession with Jones. To me the recall of Jones for Brisbane seemed inevitable, so perhaps, subconsciously I felt it wasn't worth fussing about it. With hindsight, though, it was a glaringly disrespectful piece of man mismanagement and Fletcher still stands condemned as a result of it.

True, the late victories in the CB Series have bought him some time but I'll still be surprised if he's not gone before the end of the year, whether or not (and it will surely be not) England win the World Cup.

Chris Read seems a very level-headed and sensible man, probably the type to forgive and forget as he resumes the county career which will probably be his main source of income well into the future.

I don't think, though, that he'll be inviting Duncan round for tea anytime soon.


Tim said...

One can certainly symapthise with Read, but my inclination would be to move on completely - and that means James Foster.

Brian Carpenter said...

Agreed, Tim. I favour Davies, but I'd be happy to see Foster recalled. However, you have to feel that Davies and Prior are ahead of Foster in the pecking order or he would have been taken to Bangladesh. I've got a feeling that Fletcher will feel that Davies isn't quite ready and they'll go with Nixon at the start of the English summer. I don't agree - it's just what I think will happen and I hope I'm wrong.

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