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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Keepers split over Jones position
By Martin Gough and Paresh Soni

Jack Richards and Geraint Jones
Richards says Jones is not scoring runs to make up for keeping errors
Former England keepers are divided over whether Geraint Jones deserves to keep his place in the current side.

Jack Richards, an Ashes winner in Australia in 1986-7, strongly believes Jones should be dropped.

"Is he there as a batsman or keeper? He doesn't appear to be there as a keeper because he's spilling too many chances," Richards told BBC Sport.

But Paul Downton said: "His keeping has improved noticeably. He needs to score more runs but is clearly talented."

Originally picked because his batting was deemed superior to rival Chris Read, Jones averages 28.05 from 28 Tests and just 15 in five games so far this year.

And his form has been a hot topic for spectators and pundits.

It appears to me that Jones is missing more than enough and he's not making up for it with the bat

Jack Richards

The Kent gloveman was responsible for two of England's nine dropped catches in the opening Test against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

Meanwhile, his opposite number, Kumar Sangakkara, bats at three with an average of 46.81, making up for occasional lapses behind the stumps.

"If you have someone like the Sri Lankan wicket-keeper, who is averaging 40, or Alec Stewart, close to 40, he will score runs to fill in the gap for the odd miss.

"But it appears to me that Jones is missing more than enough and he's not making up for it with the bat," Richards told BBC Sport.

However, Downton - who played 30 Tests between 1981 and 1988 believes Jones is being unfairly criticised and deserves credit for making improvements in his game in the face of fierce criticism.

"We've not had a more potent bowling attack for 20 or 30 years and it is creating a lot of chances.

Paul Downton (Pic: Lord's Taverners)
Jones has got to the stage where any half-chance is called straightforward

Paul Downton

"Jones has become a very big media focus and once you are under the spotlight everything that is bad gets exaggerated and everything good gets ignored.

"He's done remarkably well to remain focused and strong enough to take criticism."

Downton agrees, however, that Jones must soon respond with some runs to justify his place in the side.

"The team has had a couple of collapses and it's now even more important that he starts to get big runs again.

"He's not delivering on the aspect which was his strongest suit when he first came into the side.

"England have looked a much better side when he's confident and batting well."

Richards praised England's approach under Duncan Fletcher of giving players a good chance to prove their worth at Test level, but believes Jones' chance has now run out.

"At least England have some sort of continuity in giving people a chance. In my day if you didn't perform in two Test matches you were on your bike," he said.

Breacan's Ghost

"But if there are one or two series when you're not performing then you have to try somebody else.

"If it doesn't improve, then you can always say, 'Jones can come [back] in because we're happy for him to miss one an innings or one a game'."

Another former England wicket-keeper, Jim Parks, believes Jones should stay in the side as long as the main criterion is batting ability.

"Jones does cut a bit of a stiff figure behind the stumps but the more he keeps the better he's going to get," said Parks, who scored almost 2,000 runs in 46 Tests.

"He hasn't got runs lately but he is capable of getting runs.

"Read is the best keeper in the country but it's difficult for him because Jones has established himself - once you do that it's very difficult to lose your position.

"I think you should pick the best keeper because you can't afford to miss chances but if there are two who are on a par as keepers you chose the batter."

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