Do you want the better batsman or the better wicketkeeper behind the stumps for your team? That argument’s been represented by any number of individual duels over the years. Recently though, we think you’ll all agree that the better batsman’s been winning out, in general.
Blame Adam Gilchrist. He’s a great wicketkeeper, but his batting’s so spectacular it easily overshadows that fact. International sides want wicketkeepers who average 50 now, let alone 40. They’ll never get it because Gilchrist’s a one-off, but it won’t stop them trying.
But there might be some hope for the thoroughbred stumpers. Might Twenty20, that impure bastard version of the game, bring wicketkeeping skills to the fore once more?
Here’s our rationale – obliterate it in the comments with your usual gusto. How many batsmen do you need in Twenty20 cricket? How many do you really, really need? We reckon five – five specialists at any rate.
Presumably at least one of your five bowlers won’t be Tufnell-esque and presumably any eligible keepers are at least half-competent with the bat. If you’re serious about winning, then you don’t really want to be losing more than five wickets in 20 overs. Things aren’t going your way if that happens.
So you can fairly happily pick your best keeper. And you know what – there’s an added incentive.
In Twenty20 cricket, with scoring being so low and tight, batsmen get cheeky. It’s not totally unknown for them to take a run off a ball which goes straight through to the keeper. They like to jump around as well to disrupt the bowler’s line and length, coming down the pitch or batting out of their crease.
So wouldn’t it help if you had a keeper who was good enough to stand up to the stumps to fast-medium bowlers? No cheeky byes. No batting out of the crease. The wicketkeeper’s having a real impact there.
Twenty20: saviour of the wicketkeeping tradition. There’d be a touch of irony in that.
It’s often said that Philip Mustard is a headline writer’s dream. He’s a nicknamer’s dream as well. The Durham players call him ‘The Colonel’ for obvious reasons.
With so many options at our disposal however, it would be lazy of us to use someone else’s creation. That’s why, after an hour of thinking, we’ve come up with a masterpiece. A nickname of such sophistication that you’ll all wish you’d thought of it first.
Mustardo has been catching the eye a bit this season. England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals.
So far this season, Mustardo’s hit a hundred and three fifties in the Friends Provident Trophy, averaging 43.5 and a further three fifties in the Pro40 league where he’s averaging 55.6. He’s scored these runs at a ferocious rate, which has what’s caught the eye the most.
Mustardo made his biggest mark in the final of the Friends Provident Trophy a week ago, hitting 49 off 38 balls and he’s keeping himself in the public eye (ooh, mustard in the eye) following a rambunctious 78 off only 40 balls against Leicestershire yesterday.
England are always on the lookout for a wicketkeeper who can bat and particularly one who can open the batting in one-day internationals. This is because Adam Gilchrist opens the batting for Australia in one-day internationals and Australia are better than England and therefore must be copied in EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY.
No matter that Australia wanted an aggressive opener and their best wicketkeeper batsman just happened to be one. That’s not important. The important thing is that you win one-day internationals by having a wicketkeeper at the top of the order. That’s just the way it is. Knowing England’s luck, they’ll find a decent wicketkeeper-opener and Australia will change to a first-change bowler/opening batsman. Always behind the times, England.
What a player does while his side are fielding is of CRUCIAL importance when selecting your opening batsmen.
England are currently flirting with Philip Mustard.