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Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 22:20 GMT
Read the right way to tour

A stunning catch against Zimbabwe was a high-point

BBC News Online's Thrasy Petropoulos speaks to wicket-keeper Chris Read, one of the debutant tourists on the long African trip.

Just about every defeat England have suffered on tour has been followed by appeals for patience from the management and talk of learning curves and investments for the future.

Convincing and well-meant words, perhaps, but how many of the young brigade have truly advanced their cause?

Certainly Michael Vaughan did throughout the Test series.

I went from being regular figure in the Notts dressing room where I look to myself to provide a lot of the runs and do really well behind the stumps to carrying the drinks
Frustration during the early part of the tour
Craig White, Nick Knight and Mark Ealham have proved more than useful one-day players, but we knew that anyway and all three have been around for some time.

Meanwhile Darren Maddy, though he has not sunk, has done little more than tread water.

There is another candidate here, although by no means an obvious one.

Chris Read, the 21-year-old Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper sat out the entire Test series.

He then came close to being gazumped in the one-day series by Mark Alleyne, but has taken the opportunities that have since come his way with both gloves.

The new tourist sat out the opening weeks of the tour
An impressive debut against South Africa in Bloemfontein saw him take a fine catch from the fifth ball of his international limited-overs career.

Read then came within a whisker of pulling off a remarkable win in Cape Town with a sparky unbeaten 26 off 23 balls, the highlight of which was a smeared six over midwicket off Shaun Pollock.

At one stage needing 21 from 11 balls, England found themselves 11 short at the start of the final over.

Read lost the strike to the last ball and Gough was unable to hit the required boundary.

It was a big, big debut against South Africa. I was very nervous
Read's first one-day appearance came on the tour
His most memorable contribution came in the second one-dayer in Bulawayo.

With Craig White running through the Zimbabweans, he plunged far to his left to take a remarkable catch off Andy Flower in the webbing of his left glove.

It marks quite a turnaround for Read, who had hardly been given the opportunity to win people round after the disappointing start to his Test career last summer.

He spent the whole of the Test series against South Africa acting as the drinks waiter.

"It wasn't easy sitting through three months of Test cricket," said Read.

"It's difficult. I went from being regular figure in the Notts dressing room where I look to myself to provide a lot of the runs and do really well behind the stumps to carrying the drinks and waiting three or four weeks between games."

That, though, changed in a moment in Bloemfontein.

"It was a big, big debut against South Africa. I was very nervous but I went out there and it was almost a case of 'well, I'm still out here after three months so let's show the people what I can do'.

Thinking about delivering the drinks again
"I was actually quite thankful to the management for sending me down to Bloemfontein with the one-day squad while the guys were playing the final Test. That was good, to get a different atmosphere.

"I was almost in the same boat as some of the guys who came out in that I hadn't played much cricket."

The odd duck aside, the only blemish in Read's performances were two costly dropped chances off Jacques Kallis in East London.

"The first was one I would take 99% of the time; low to my right.

"Unfortunately, it was a dewy evening and, when I went to dive, I slipped with my right foot and missed the chance.

"At the time I was more angry than anything else because Kallis is a huge wicket in their side."

In fact it is hard to remember Read missing anything behind the stumps in the three Test matches he played against New Zealand.

Summer low point: The Cairns dismissal
It was with the bat that he was deemed not to be up to scratch - one dismissal, bowled ducking a Chris Cairns slower ball, made up people's minds.

But Read insists his contributions down the order in South Africa and Zimbabwe are no more than what he would expect of himself.

"It is something that I proved last year on the A tour here. We played a few one-day matches against Zimbabwe and I scored well in those games.

"I might not have won the games for the side but I was there at the death to bring home the victory."

Perhaps that is what we should expect of Read after all - a cog in the wheel, not an out-and-out match-winner.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
Wobbly England scrape home
18 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
It wasn't pretty - Hussain
18 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
All White now
17 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
England's man of mystery
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Hick's victory six
15 Feb 00 |  England on Tour
England desperate to finish on high note
Links to other England on Tour stories are at the foot of the page.