Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 39 Days Until the Ashes…
England has had many fine wicketkeepers so selecting just one for an all-time England Ashes XI is not one of the easier choices we have had to make in this series.
We’ve narrowed the shortlist down to four, which means that we’ve had to leave several good wicketkeepers out. Men like Godfrey Evans, Bob Taylor, George Duckworth and Jim Parks, who all deserve a mention but on this occasion were adjudged to be just short of our top four.
First we considered Alec Stewart, partly because he is the England keeper we have seen most of, but also due to him being the closest England have to Adam Gilchrist. Or so we thought. However, Stewart’s record with the bat against Australia when wearing the gloves was nothing to write home about with no hundreds in 26 tests and an average below 30. Given he is the worst keeper of our four that means the former Surrey man misses out.
Next up is Jack Russell, who eventually lost his place in the England side due to his supposed weakness with the bat. But Russell actually had a decent record against Australia with an average of 32.58 from his nine Ashes test and a highest score of 128 not out. He was also a brilliant and eccentric keeper who deserved better treatment from the England selectors.
Les Ames, England’s pre-World War II keeper is the only gloveman to ever score 100 hundreds, with one of them coming at Lord’s in 1934 in England’s last Ashes win at HQ before their 2009 triumph. But for one with such a batting pedigree his overall Ashes average of 27 in 17 tests is disappointing. So Ames misses out to another Kent and England keeper.
Our choice as England’s best ever Ashes keeper is Alan Knott. As a batsman he could attack or defend as the situation demanded and along with Tony Grieg was steadfast in the face of the Lillee and Thompson barrage of the 1974/75 series. Knott scored more Ashes runs (1675 at 33) than any other keeper and in his 33 tests against Australia, hit two hundreds and 11 fifties. From what we’ve seen and read about Knott’s keeping, it was more or less faultless particularly when standing up to Derek Underwood.
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