Strauss defends under-fire Jones
by AFP

Ground:Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood
Player:GO Jones, AJ Strauss, CMW Read, Kamran Akmal, A Flintoff
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 20th July 2006


England wicket keeper Geraint Jones has received a vote of confidence from stand-in skipper Andrew Strauss following the drawn Test against Pakistan at Lord's.


Jones's position has looked anything but solid in recent months with poor form with the bat at the international level contrasting with the form of rival Chris Read who recently scored a ton for England A against Pakistan.


Jones took his overall tally in his past eight completed Test innings to just 72 runs with scores of 18 and 16 in the first Test.


His average after 30 appearances now stands at 26 compared with 30 both before and after last summer's Ashes.


Jones's turns with the bat at Lord's were starkly contrasting affairs.


In the first he cracked 18 off 30 balls after coming to the crease at 441 for five and in the second he ground out 16 in almost as many overs when England needed some throttle.


But Strauss said the 30-year-old had fulfilled the brief.


"He played for the team on both occasions," he said.


"He reacted very positively to the challenge of scoring quickly for us to set up the first-innings declaration.


"In the second innings we didn't need another wicket to go down so he made some hard yards.


"He had two difficult situations to contend with in the match."


However, Jones was impeccable behind the stumps, claiming five first-innings dismissals in a display that contrasted with a number of missed opportunities by his opposite number Kamran Akmal.


Allrounder Andrew Flintoff is due to take over the reins from Strauss at the start of next week when England gather again for their two back-to-back Tests at Old Trafford and Headingley.


The drawn match at Lord's was the fourth occasion in the past 10 Tests in which England have switched captains and for Strauss the match provided a solid platform.


"It's always important not to lose the first Test of a series," he said.


"The first Test sets the tone for the games to come and that is one of the things I said before the start."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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