Chris Read has learnt his lessons well in the last couple of years. He knows that in the present international cricket scenario, it is almost impossible for a wicketkeeper to keep his place in a team without contributing with the bat.
Read has found a new way of tackling things and has transformed himself into a reliable batsman, as compared to 2004, when he lost his England place to Geraint Jones. “The role of a wicket-keeper has changed in the recent years. I completely agree that one-day cricket has completely transformed the role of a ‘keeper in the team. After being dropped from the team due to my poor batting form, it was really important that I did well with the bat in the domestic circuit,” said Read.
However, he agreed that it would be a great challenge for him to keep the wickets on the turning tracks here. “This is the first time I’m playing in India and am really looking forward to it. It is a great challenge for any wicket-keeper to do well here,” he said. “I have already played on the turning tracks of Sri Lanka earlier this year and in any case, I’m expecting flat batting tracks here and do not see the ball doing much. However, it would still be hard for the ‘keepers,” he added.
The last time England toured India in April-May, they were troubled by the hot weather. However, with the summers making way for the winter season, the English are having a much easier time. “It has been very good so far. We have been here for a good one week now and am looking forward to peak on Sunday,” said Read.
While the heat might not pose too much of a problem, the same, however, cannot be said about the Indian spinners, especially Harbhajan Singh. “I do not think it is necessary to focus on one individual. We are practising on dusty wickets where the ball turns quite a bit. We will come up with ways to combat the threat,” he said, adding: “The most important thing for batsmen in ODIs is to keep the scoreboard ticking over with ones and twos.”
The pressure to fare well with the bat has affected many a ‘keeper in the past, and Read has his own formula to combat it. “I truly believe that wicket-keepers are wicket-keepers first and foremost. But I wholly appreciate they have to bat well too. I am trying my best not to mix up the two things in my mind.”
On the issue of the England players not giving it their all in the Champions Trophy in order to preserve themselves for the upcoming Ashes series, Read said, “There are two completely separate squads. We are focussed on doing well in the tournament here. We have a long season ahead and everyone is taking it very seriously.”