|Player:||GO Jones, CMW Read|
|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 1st August 2006
England wicket-keeper Geraint Jones was dropped Monday and replaced by longstanding rival Chris Read for the third Test against Pakistan starting at Headingley on Friday.
Jones, who took over from Read after the Nottinghamshire gloveman was himself axed for the final Test against West Indies in Antigua two years ago, had played 31 consecutive Test matches and was known to be a firm favourite of coach Duncan Fletcher.
But a run of just one fifty in his last 15 Test innings was too much for the selectors, who initially opted for the Kent gloveman over Read on account of his superior batting, to ignore and they have decided to give Jones a spell on the sidelines.
Jones sustained a right ring finger injury while batting during England's innings and 120 run second Test victory at Old Trafford.
But David Graveney, England's chairman of selectors, made it clear that Jones had been dropped on form alone.
"We have taken this decision regardless of the injury to Geraint's finger," he said.
"The key factor for the selectors was his form with the bat and we believe he will benefit from having a break from international cricket and spending more time in the middle with his county."
Ironically the decision to drop Jones came at a time when his wicket-keeping, often criticised, was improving.
But his run of low scores has coincided with a fine burst of batting form for Read, who scored a hundred for England A against Pakistan earlier this season and on Sunday smashed 72 off 55 balls in a one-day Pro 40 match for Nottinghamshire against Northamptonshire.
"Chris was selected in the England Development Squad earlier this summer and he has also performed well for the A team against Pakistan," Graveney added.
Read, who in 11 Tests has averaged a meagre 15.30, said he always knew his batting would have to improve if he was to regain his Test place.
"I felt that I kept well in the West Indies two years ago, but I knew that if was I going to get back in the Test side I would have to work on my batting because I hadn't scored enough runs," he said.
"So I made a conscious effort to look at my batting and analyse where I can improve," Read added.
"Things have gone well for me and I feel I have reaped the rewards by scoring well in both first class and one-day cricket over the last couple of seasons."
Jones, who scored his only Test century at Headingley against New Zealand two years ago, admitted: "It's a blow to lose my place, but the selectors have explained the reasons why and I will be working extremely hard to win it back.
"I have been very pleased with my wicket-keeping this summer, but I am also conscious of the fact that I am in the side as a batsman as well as a keeper.
"It's up to me to go back to Kent, and as soon as my finger has recovered, look to score plenty of runs and put myself back in the frame for the Ashes this (northern hemisphere) winter."
In another change to the Old Trafford squad, where England's win inside three days put them 1-0 up in the four-match series after the drawn opener at Lord's, uncapped off-spinning all-rounder Jamie Dalrymple was omitted.
And pace bowler Liam Plunkett was still recovering from the side strain that forced him out of the second Test.
Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis, who didn't play in Manchester, was retained in a 12-man squad.
Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, capt), Alastair Cook (Essex), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Chris Read (Nottinghamshire, wkt), Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Stephen Harmison (Durham), Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire), Jon Lewis (Gloucestershire).
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)