Tim Ambrose: Is He Really the Right Man For English Wicketkeeper?

Niall HorsmanCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2008

The England selectors could be criticized for many reasons as we look back over the last two days in Leeds and the gambles that they have taken for this second test match against South Africa.

One thing I feel they have done, maybe inadvertently, is taken the spotlight away from Tim Ambrose and the ongoing wicketkeeping debate.

In the days leading up to the Headingley test a lot of talk was based around Ambrose and whether he was ever going to succeed in the England side and whether it was maybe time to try something new.

However, the selection of Darren Pattison and the return of Andrew Flintoff have somewhat taken the spotlight away from this debate for the next five days at least.

This should have been good for Ambrose to be able to go out and play without all eyes of the selectors and pundits being on him. Even without the pressure though, Ambrose still failed to make a telling impression on the scorebook and unless he makes serious contributions in the final couple of matches in this series, England could start the winter with a new face behind the stumps yet again.

Where then do the selectors turn next? Do they return to the tried, tested, and failed such as Matt Prior, Geraint Jones, or Chris Read? Or do they try someone new, such as Steven Davis of Worcestershire, who is very highly thought of around the county circuit? Or Phil Mustard, who did well with the one day squad over the wnter?

Whoever is next in line, however, needs to be given time, time to settle in to the England setup and time to properly establish themselves on the international scene.

The wicketkeeping position is becoming ever more important in the world of cricket, with every nation trying to follow the example of Australia or New Zealand and find someone who can be compared to Adam Gilchrist or Brendon Macullum.

So it's vital that England give whoever they select the chance to how they have those qualities over a period of time, not just throughout a couple of test series.

I know that sounds like I am contradicting myself, as Ambrose hasn't had all that long to settle into his role within the England team.

However, the amount of runs he has scored this season is simply not enough to keep a place in any side in the world, and that is why I feel he needs to be replaced with either Mustard or Davis for the winter tour of India.

England needs to find someone for this role quickly as they cannot afford to go into the Ashes summer next year with a wicketkeeper fighting for his place or with three or four different people in the running for the first test.

They need to, over the winter, get together a solid team that should only be changed through injury—and that needs to include a consistent wicketkeeper batsman.