x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Wicketkeeper dilemma is nice problem for England to have

Andy Flower, the England team director, could name any one of five wicketkeepers in his team and expect the chosen one to do a job.

Alan Knott or Bob Taylor? Alec Stewart or Jack Russell? Geraint Jones or Chris Read? English cricket loves a wicketkeeper conundrum, but they have never had such a surfeit of as they do now.

Andy Flower, the England team director, could name any one of five wicketkeepers in his team and expect the chosen one to do a job.

Three - Jos Buttler, Craig Kieswetter and Jonny Bairstow - realistically might play in the same XI when England play their two Twenty20 matches against the West Indies this week.

The leftovers are not bad, either. Matt Prior has been Adam Gilchrist-esque during England's recent ascent to the top of the Test game.

Steve Davies, who had the one-day gauntlets in Australia last winter, averages 40 in first-class cricket, and has a strike-rate in excess of 100 in ODIs for England.

Of the five, the coming man is clearly Bairstow. The 21 year old from Yorkshire served notice of his rare talent when he saw England to victory in the last match of their series against India.

It was the most eye-catching one-day international debut by an Englishman since a 19-year-old Ben Hollioake made 63 from 48 balls against Australia in 1997.

Back then, Hollioake made a mockery of arguably the finest bowling attack in the history of the game.

The Indian attack facing Bairstow was popgun by comparison, but the way he set about it was no less savage with his 41 including two straight sixes which ended up in the River Taff.

Like the late Hollioake, he made the game look ridiculously easy on first glimpse. He has only faced 21 balls in international cricket so far, but Bairstow should be a fixture in England's grand plan.

pradley@thenational.ae