Chris Read’s raw deal

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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.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. Just because the story is “best keeper” doesn’t actually mean it’s true. Anyone who has actually examined Read’s wicket keeping (rather than just read the media coverage of it) can see he has some serious flaws (not least an inability to move more than half a foot to his right, highlighted on five seperate ocassions during the ICC champions trophy: form that decided – at least in part- his omission for the first Ashes test)

    The worst thing to happen to him wasn’t Fletcher’s lack of faith (although that was harsh) but the fact he believed the hype and didn’t work to improve his wicket-keeping game.

    *damn* I made an actual cricket comment. I vowed never to do that.

  2. Far better judges than us have referred to ‘a narrow wicketkeeping channel’, but people are generally agreed that he’s still the best of the bunch.

    It’s a good point though. Fletcher in particular is at pains to say that it wasn’t just Read’s batting that counted against him. It’s an oversimplification to say that it was.

    Where was the Raw Deal quote/analogy, by the way?

  3. There’s more to keeping than stopping byes, of course, but for what it’s worth, Chris Read is 21st all-time amongst first-class keepers in England on byes per ball, and the best of the current lot.

    I apologise for the lack of Raw Deal references, but in my defence I’ve never seen the film.

  4. Last Championship season, Read led all wicketkeepers in batting at 52.68, followed by Nixon (48.83), Pothas (46.67), and Ambrose (43.10) . He looks to be off in the same direction this season. I don’t know how many seasons he needs to be near the tops of the averages before people stop saying he is a duff batsman.

    But for giving players raw deals, there is no place like India. There is a wicketkeeper named Pankaj Dharmani who captains Punjab in India state competition. He averages over 50 in First Class cricket over a 15-year career, and is considered one of the best behind the stumps in India. His reward for all this has been a single ODI 12 years ago. Zonal politics kept from seriously being considered for years when India couldn’t find a decent Test keeper. Now, at age 33, with Dhoni now being groomed as Test captain (although his Test batting is still subpar) it looks like the window of opportunity has long gone. His consolation prize has been a place on Kings XI Punjab, where he is not even playing because Sangakkara is also on the team (though presumably Sangakkara wouldn’t mind playing as a specialist batsman).

    Outside of wicketkeepers, there are dozens of cases that approach Dharmani’s in egregiousness. So maybe if Chris Read knew about all that he wouldn’t feel so bad?

  5. I’m sorry I’ve let you down. I’ve never seen the film, but I don’t think that should be an excuse.

  6. Over here in California, we all think Read is over-rated.

    As is Reading – Slough’s much better.

  7. I’ve come to cricket very recently compared to you lot – and my introducer was and is a Geraint Jones stalwart – so I believed Chris Read was the divil himself. I get to see him on the tele and read about him on cricinfo and he’s pretty smartish with the stumpings and the catchings and the batting. So now I’m even more confused as I like Ambose AND Mustard AND Reed… and I can’t do you any Arnie as am allergic to him but can do you “And now, people… and now, people… When I woke up this mornin’, I heard a distubin’ sound. I said When I woke up this mornin’, I heard a disturbin’ sound! What I heard… was the jingle-janglin’… of a thousand lost souls! ” not because it has any relevance but because I’d had a child-ridden day and I am going to soothe my soul with a quality film….

  8. Does this mean Chris Read has overtaken Ramprakash in the ‘raw deal’ stakes?

  9. My favourite Raw Deal quote is “you should not drink and bake” – although it’s very hard to adhere to that philosophy when it’s only May and it’s your turn on the tea rota AGAIN.

  10. Is Raw Deal the one that starts with lots of muscular chaps, oiled-up, pumping iron in some Russian gymnasium? A fight then erupts, resulting in Arnie fighting the bad oiled-up muscley guy while rolling around in some snow?

    No? I really hope that’s some other film and not something I’ve dreamt up myself.

  11. Chris Read has obviously done something to upset poeple in high places. We managed to scrape the Ashes in 2005 despite Wooden Hands Jones and yet he was brought back for the 07 series.

    Is Read the best English wicket keeper? Perhaps not but he’s up there in the top 2 or 3 behind perhaps Ben Scott?. Is the best wicket keeper batsman? Undoubtedly – and he has been since Tim Ambrose was in short trousers.

    However, as Monique famously says in Raw Deal (according to ‘Losing makes you stronger..’

  12. I’m a Notts fan (meaning I am going to be slightly biased…but I will try to give a fair argument). I believe that the last two wicketkeepers to come into the England squad haven’t done that bad. However, this season in particular, Read has impressed me. He is now the captain of Notts and has taken on the task very well (considering he has taken over from Fleming). His batting form has been fantastic, scoring high score in nearly every game so far this season. Notts played kent last week and I thought it was a chance to see Jones and Read play against each other. Read averaged around 50 in the two innings, and Jones around 15 including a golden duck when the pressure was on. However I do agree that Read lets past a few too many byes

  13. Fletcher: You’re out.
    Read: For what?
    Fletcher: Impersonating a human being!
    Read: You gave me a raw deal.
    Fletcher: Losing improves your character.

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