We think Chris Read got a raw deal. The story is: best keeper, duff batsman – but everyone knows it’s not that clear cut.
We’re not going so far as to say Chris Read’s should be playing for England, but we do think he should have been given a proper chance. Or a proper second chance anyway.
Read was dropped during England’s tour of the West Indies in 2004, because his batting wasn’t up to much. It was controversial, in that he’d kept well, but we think at this point it was a fair decision. He’d had a go, he hadn’t made any runs and he didn’t look like he would either.
Knowing his batting was his weakness, Read set about rectifying this. He averaged 50 in first-class cricket in 2004 and 44 in 2005. In 2006 he came back into the England side during the series against Pakistan, making 38, 55 and 33.
Those runs weren’t match-changing, but returning to the side and with a good few people willing him to fail, they represent a pretty stout return. New players should get a bit of leeway.
Bizarrely, Read was then dropped for the first Ashes Test in Australia. Three Tests later he was back again, as Geraint Jones had had a ‘mare. He played in the last two Tests, scoring 3, 26 not out, 2 and 4 and that was that for him.
We think that those four Ashes innings should be stricken from the record when looking at Chris Read. Here was a cricketer whose coach had such little faith in him he dropped him despite reasonable performance in favour of someone in no form whatsoever. He’d returned to a side that had already lost a Test series as well as all vestiges of resilience. Plus he was playing against the best team in the world on their home grounds.
Anyone would buckle in that situation. Playing in a beaten team having already been dropped isn’t going to show you at your best. Some players get a good run of matches against mediocre opposition to prove their worth. Chris Read got good opportunities in his youth, but the later version of Chris Read got those four innings.
As we said, we’ve no idea if he’s worth a place in the England side and that’s very much our point – we think the jury’s still out. He hit 142 against Yorkshire this week and last year he averaged over 50.
It’s all irrelevant though, because he played in the naughty Twenty20 league, the ICL, which is frowned upon by England’s selectors, so he’s effectively banned from international cricket.
This update’s a little dry, so we suggest focusing your comments on our use of the phrase ‘raw deal’ by making reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film of that name.