Who should be England’s wicketkeeper against the West Indies in July? You have to choose NOW

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Being a cricket fan isn’t about following players’ development, weighing their ability at different points in their career. Being a sports fan is about picking a favourite early on and sticking with them, contriving explanations why they’re actually the best, even when they’re performing terribly. There is plenty of cricket to be played before England next play another Test, against the West Indies in July, but we all have to decide on a favourite wicketkeeper immediately so that we can undertake our upcoming County Championship arguments correctly.

Remember when James Bracey was England’s Test wicketkeeeper? That feels a while ago, doesn’t it? The lad’s only 26 and scored a 50-over double hundred last year, but there now seem to be quite a few people who would be given a pecking slot ahead of him.

These still include Ben Foakes and Jonny Bairstow, the two men who have most recently kept wicket for England in Tests and both of whom were still in the team the last time we checked. There is however a growing sense that it might be “time to move on” because people get a bit funny about England picking a new wicketkeeper for an India series or the Ashes – both of which are on the way in 2025.

You’re supposed to groom wicketkeepers, you see. They’re supposed to bed in. Sure, Rishabh Pant may have smashed a hundred in his debut series against England and Dhruv Jurel averaged 60 when he came in for three matches last month, but England wicketkeepers need to acclimatise. England wicketkeepers have to play home series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka before they’re allowed to play in an “iconic” series. (A reminder that ‘iconic’ is the most overused word in sport.)

That means we all have to pretend that the guy picked to squat down behind the stumps for the Lord’s Test on July 10 is already earmarked for the Ashes, even though that almost certainly isn’t the case.

So who should it be? You have to choose and you have to stick with your choice, even when it’s long since become obvious that you chose… poorly.

Ben Foakes

Foakes is still probably the leading contender for the “you should always pick your best ‘keeper” crowd. His Test average has actually sunk below 30 after 25 Tests, but in a way that’s good because it makes the eternal ‘keeper-batter versus batter-who-keeps’ debate template easier to apply. If Foakes is picked, you’re more likely to hear commentators use terms like “pure gloveman” which has surely got to come into consideration. Being “the best wicketkeeper in the world” hasn’t always helped him much in the past though.

Jonny Bairstow

Bairstow has delivered some almost unmatchable highs for England, but it would be oddly fitting if he exited Test cricket with successive scores of 38, 30, 29 and 39. Throughout his career, he’s tended to overshoot in both directions, but this kind of an outro would give a sense he’d finally attained the equilibrium his current average of 36.39 has always suggested. That said, if he does keep his place, we all know he will definitely follow this up with either three hundreds on the bounce or three ducks on the bounce. (Maybe even one then the other, like Ravi Bopara managed that time.)

Jos Buttler

Yeah, it won’t be him. That ship has already sailed or been scuttled (we’re not sure which).

James Rew

We think we might go with James Rew. If you’ve got a 20-year-old who averages 45 in first-class cricket, that’s surely your guy, right? We haven’t actually seen him keep wicket, but that doesn’t matter because we already know his role. When England Lions toured India earlier in the year, he played as a batter while The Other Ollie Robinson kept wicket. That’s ‘batter-who-keeps’ status cemented for life, right there.

The Other Ollie Robinson

This is the fella who now plays for Durham, not the Mouth from the South seamer with the duff back who made his debut in the same Test as James Bracey. (The Final Word’s Geoff Lemon recently made a compelling case that The Other Ollie Robinson should change – or at least tweak – his name to distance himself from the other fella.) Robinson outscored Rew on that Lions tour we mentioned above, but his recent first-class runs have been in the second division. Will he continue to perform now that Durham have been promoted? You don’t have time to find out! Are you not paying attention? You have to pick an England wicketkeeper TODAY. No waiting around to weigh up additional evidence, you massive cheat!

Jamie Smith

Smith’s case to be considered the finest glover of his generation, a sticksman unsurpassed by any other, is somewhat diminished by being second-choice at Surrey, behind Foakes. He’s learning from the best though, isn’t he? Maybe he’s destined to take over the mantle. Perhaps he too could average 29.20 in Test cricket while at times looking a lot more capable than that.

Phil Salt

Why not? Salt’s arguably the England wicketkeeper making the best fist of international cricket at the minute – not that he’s actually doing the keeping often. In fact, yeah, forget James Rew. Phil Salt’s our man.

Ollie Pope

Remember that? That was a thing too for a very short while there.


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  1. Already signed up to Patreon so I can’t be that one person. Sniff.

    I’m just here to back up Ben Foakes. That’s my default position on this site and I’m sticking to it.

      1. I like to keep my options open.

        Just not here. Here my options are as closed as the mind of [insert your least favourite journalist].

  2. I have totally and utterly made up my mind about this one.

    I have written my answer down on a piece of card, placed the card in an envelope and secreted the envelope very safely indeed.

    I shall reveal all on 9 July. After that, once the gasps of horror and laughter have subsided…at least that’s what happened last time…I’ll open the envelope and let you know my choice of keeper.

  3. The real question is, why does Harry Brook not at least pretend to keep wicket? Then we would have a ready-made Bairstow replacement, so that we could afford not to play Foakes, while accommodating a sixth bowler to allow Stokes’s bowling load to be managed.

      1. McCullum could do it. Trescothick could do it. So could Collingwood. While we’re at it, bring back Jack Russell. And Alan Knott. And Geoff Humpage.

  4. A bit early for J.Rew but the word from Taunton is that his keeping is ‘tidy’. He’s a bit old-fashioned and patient with the bat though, none of that biffing that seems a prerequisite these days, so might not get in under the current regime, or will, and it’ll ruin his game for years.

    I would stick with Foakes for now.

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