Right, let’s get this over with.
First, let’s restate the qualification criteria:
- Qualified to play for England
- No established internationals
- Playing in the first division of the County Championship
Think that’s it. There might be other things. Who knows? Presumably us, but we don’t like to scrutinise the workings of our own mind in case we damage it. We reserve the right to apply further criteria later on if we feel like it. Continue reading
Being out in cricket is ordinarily a bad thing, but Steven Davies being out is actually quite positive, because he is the first openly homosexual professional cricketer.
At times like this, you remember how backwards the world is – particularly the cricket world. It is 2011 and Steven Davies is the first professional cricketer to state that he is gay.
Maybe it’s the stigma of being ‘out’ more than anything. Are gay cricketers worried that an additional ‘out’ will affect their batting average?
Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire. It’s Chris Read v Steve Davies in a battle for third or fourth place in the England wicketkeeping hierarchy. Game on!
Steve Davies clearly said to himself: ‘Whatever Chris Read can do, I can go one better.’
Fortunately for Steve Davies, Chris Read hit 125, so ‘one better’ was quite impressive. If Read had missed a straight one first-up, all Davies would have had to do was edge a single down to third man.
Instead he had to edge a single down to third man 126 times. At least we assume that’s what happened and we’re not going to let ‘facts’ or ‘the truth’ dissuade us from thinking that.
To be honest, we haven’t got much to add to what we said about Steven Davies last year. At least this year he’ll be in Division One.
This is the problem with news of earth-shattering importance – it makes writing about Worcestershire wicketkeepers less appealing.
Imagine you work in the accounts department for a trampoline manufacturer. One day there’s a trampoline testing crisis and you’re whisked out of the office as an emergency stand-in for the normal test guy who’s been apprehended by the police after not returning an item to the bagging area when using the automatic cashier system at Tesco.
After a day of fun-packed trampoline testing, the man returns to work and you’re sent back to the accounts department. Suddenly your spreadsheets seem grey and sterile. No matter how much conditional formatting you use, you can’t recreate the breathless elation of just jumping up and down for a living.
That’s how we feel writing about Steve Davies right now.
Although we made Steven Davies one to watch at the start of last summer, we had it in mind that we’d be watching him for a bit longer before he appeared in international matches.
Andy Flower said this week that if Davies plays in the one-day matches, he’ll open the batting, while Matt Prior will bat in the lower middle order if he plays. You feel like England will go for Davies, because wicketkeepers who open the batting in one-day internationals send England into unseemly paroxysms of orgasmic delight which are as embarrassing as hearing Henry Blofeld calling someone a ‘dude’.
Wicketkeepers open the batting in one-dayers. That’s the way it is as far as England are concerned. All of which makes it rather bizarre that Phil Mustard was so summarily abandoned.
Here was a wicketkeeper-batsman who kept wicket well and had the right approach to opening the batting in Twenty20 matches and one-dayers.
He mightn’t have made any big scores, but he’s fundamentally right for the job. He has a lash at the ball without giving the matter a great deal of thought. That is generally what you want from a one-day opener these days.
You don’t want a batsman thinking: ‘My job is to have a lash at every ball.’ You want a batsman who just does it. That’s Phil Mustard and just about nobody else who’s English.
He’s been playing in division two, which of course doesn’t count. That’s what Steven Davies has been doing.
He has had a good time recently though. Worcestershire are in the first division of the Pro40 league and played two matches last week.
Against Somerset, Davies hit a quarter of the balls he faced for four and finished with 92 off 60 balls. The match was tied. Against Gloucestershire he did even better, hitting 119 off 87 balls. Unfortunately, his keeping’s not getting rave reviews. We say ‘unfortunately’ but it isn’t really fortune, is it? It’s to do with concentration, co-ordination, athleticism and stamina.
At least Worcestershire should find themselves in the top division next year, so Davies, along with team mates Kabir Ali and Simon Jones, can give a truer indication of how good they are.
Please let Steven Davies be the end to the to-ing and fro-ing of England wicketkeepers.
At 21, he’s got years on most of his rivals and he’s virtually matching all of them for runs and wickets. If he can improve and stand head and shoulders above everyone as the standout candidate, cricket writers the nation over would rejoice and put their poison pens back in their desk tidies.
Davies bats at five and has a top score of 192. Nobody’s said anything particularly bad about his wicketkeeping yet. We don’t own a poison pen, but our Quill Of Wicketkeeping Appreciation is drying up and needs dipping in The Ink Of Optimism.
Don’t make us use The Tipp-Ex Of Hindsight-led Revisionism, Steven. Don’t let it come to that.
County cricketers to watch in 2008.