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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2006, 08:36 GMT
Jones to return as Ashes keeper
Geraint Jones
Jones is seen as a better batsman in Australian conditions
Geraint Jones will be England's wicket-keeper in the first Ashes Test, coach Duncan Fletcher has confirmed.

Jones lost his place to Chris Read this summer but Read had a poor Champions Trophy in India last month.

"Fred [captain Andrew Flintoff] and myself had a good meeting and we decided we're going to go into the Test with Jones," said Fletcher.

"At this stage we're convinced that Jones will be a better prospect for batting at number seven."

606: DEBATE
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Fletcher revealed James Anderson is ahead of Sajid Mahmood for the role of back-up seamer but also said England could play two spinners in most of the Tests.

Jones was preferred to Read for the three-day match against New South Wales, which began on Sunday with 11 days to go before the Test series begins in Brisbane.

Jones, who was raised in Brisbane, did not take a catch or make a stumping as the state side reached 325-5, though he kept wicket tidily enough.

Read, who was brought back into the Test side after two years out for the third match of the series against Pakistan, made 55 in that match but has failed since.

Long considered the better gloveman of the two, he did not keep well during the one-day ICC Champions Trophy in India and scored just six runs in three innings.

It's a very, very difficult decision, but we believe Jones will do a better job

Duncan Fletcher

Jones was England's wicket-keeper during the victorious Ashes series of 2005, when he shared a crucial partnership with Flintoff in the fourth Test but generally struggled.

However, his back-foot style should be ideally suited to the faster wickets England will have to play on in Australia.

"Looking at the pressure that he's played under before, we believe he handles the pressure better," Fletcher explained.

"Technically we think he's a better batter on these wickets and especially in Test match cricket.

"It's a very, very difficult decision, but we believe Jones will do a better job."

England bowler Jimmy Anderson
Anderson is viewed as a safer bet then Mahmood

Jones' return to strengthen the lower order could make it easier to pick spinner Monty Panesar over Ashley Giles, whose batting ability could otherwise have counted greatly.

"It's going to be a difficult decision and we are looking at playing two spinners in most of the Tests," Fletcher said.

"We have to give those two individuals as much bowling as possible, especially Ashley who hasn't bowled for a year."

In the seam-bowling department, Mahmood was expensive in Friday's tour-opener and did not bowl on Sunday, while Anderson - who missed the whole summer with back trouble - delivered 15 overs.

"We respect and speak highly of [Mahmood] but we are concerned about his consistency," Fletcher said.

I don't think the time will be there for Michael Vaughan to play in the Test series

Duncan Fletcher

"We know what we can get out of Jimmy on a day-to-day basis, and that's what we are looking for at this stage."

Meanwhile, Fletcher said he doubted whether injured captain Michael Vaughan would be fit to play a part in the Test series after suggestions the batsman could return in time for the third match.

Vaughan has been recovering from knee surgery, but he will fly out to Australia to link up with the Academy squad as he continues his rehabilitation.

"He's just said he's ready to play a game of cricket," Fletcher told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme.

"So there might be a club game in Perth or something like that and we'll just have to see how he responds to that.

"From our point of view, he'll need a lot of batting under his belt for him to be ready in three weeks' time - and I don't think the time will be there for the Test series."



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AUSTRALIA PLAYER PROFILES

 

SEE ALSO
State side punish rusty England
12 Nov 06 |  The Ashes
Vaughan close to making comeback
09 Nov 06 |  The Ashes
Ashes venues guide
11 Oct 06 |  The Ashes
BBC Ashes coverage 2006/07
01 Nov 06 |  The Ashes
BBC Ashes archive
02 Nov 06 |  Classic Ashes
England in Australia 2006/07
15 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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