Jack­was the last spe­cial­ist Prior took the all-round

Peter Hayter, The Cricket Pa­per’s es­teemed cor­re­spon­dent, looks back over his years of reporting on Eng­land Test cricket around the world and iden­ti­fies the great­est play­ers over this pe­riod. This week, wick­et­keep­ers take cen­tre stage

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE -

A supreme ath­lete and fas­tid­i­ous in prac­tice and prepa­ra­tion as he was in all things – team­mates joked he num­bered his hairs so as to make sure they were never out of place – Ste­wart first took up wick­et­keep­ing merely to add another string to his bow but he turned him­self into a first-class glove­man, so ef­fec­tively that any ini­tial con­tro­versy over the de­ci­sion for him to take over from Rus­sell full-time soon sub­sided.

His agility and an­tic­i­pa­tion al­lowed him to cover large dis­tances be­hind the stumps, one div­ing left-handed take to catch Brian Lara off the bowl­ing of Dar­ren Gough in 1995, dur­ing the pe­riod when Eng­land yo-yoed be­tween him and Rus­sell on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, was among the very best seen at Headquarters and helped Eng­land se­cure a rare vic­tory over West Indies.

If his chat, pos­si­bly in­grained in him dur­ing win­ters spent play­ing grade cricket in Perth, oc­ca­sion­ally grated, op­po­nents al­ways knew they had been in a bat­tle.

Re­mark­ably, at one stage he filled the roles of open­ing bats­man,‘keeper and cap­tain and a mea­sure of his abil­ity and stamina was that none of the dis­ci­plines suf­fered no­tice­ably.

But as he neared 40, he was happy to slide down the or­der. In the end, as with the best, Ste­wart was only no­ticed be­hind the stumps when the suf­fered a rare lapse.

(Tests - 34, Runs - 1172, 100s - 1, High­est Score - 100*, Aver­age - 23.92, Catches - 128, Stump­ings - 5, Most dis­missals (in­nings) - 6. Most dis­missals (match) - 9.)

“Jones… Bow­den… Kasprow­icz the man to go, and Harmi­son has done it. De­spair on the faces of the bats­men, and joy for ev­ery Eng­land player on the field.” – Richie Be­naud, Chan­nel Four, August 7, 2005.

If Geraint Jones had only held on to one catch in his Test ca­reer, the tum­bling take to dis­miss Michael Kasprow­icz and se­cure Eng­land’s last­gasp vic­tory in the sec­ond Ashes Test of 2005 would have been enough to earn him a place in the Pan­theon.

The Edg­bas­ton crowd, and what seemed like the whole nation, had been gripped by the drama from ball one of the best series ever played on home soil, and a thrilling win to draw level

Jack Rus­sell called his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Oth­ers sug­gested that it should have been called Geraint Jones

Agility and an­tic­i­pa­tion: Alec Ste­wart

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