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Who Will Take England’s Test Wicketkeeper Spot This Summer? | England Cricket News

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England will play six Tests this summer, three each against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, with the first of those taking place in July. Ahead of those series’ Aayush Majumdar looks at those in contention to take England’s wicketkeeper spot.

Jonny Bairstow

For a home Test season in particular, Bairstow is a strong favourite for the role. It’s hard to look past the player who collected his 100th England Test cap this past winter in India. He was first-choice keeper during last summer’s Ashes, and played some important knocks during that series, including an unbeaten 81-ball 99 in Manchester. Despite that, he came under pressure after dropping several important chances behind the stumps, and has not looked at his best since recovering from his freak leg injury at the end of the 2022 summer. He will go into the 2024 Test  summer off the back of 10 innings in India where his high score was 38.

Ben Foakes

Foakes has been and will continue to be in the reckoning as England’s other top choice alongside Bairstow. Foakes has produced a couple of noteworthy knocks so far this county season, but his wicket-keeping has, yet again, been more impressive. The question is, how long will Foakes be among the top candidates primarily based on his wicket-keeping skills? With only two 50+ scores in his last fifteen innings in first-class cricket, including the Test tour of India, Foakes also needs big scores under his belt sooner rather than later. With Harry Brook absent in India, Foakes was chosen as the best way to balance the side. He looks the most likely option to drop out when Brook returns.

Phil Salt

Salt is well renowned for his exploits as an opening batter in white-ball cricket who can score at a rapid pace, but his abilities as a Test player are also worth exploring. His aggressive approach suits the McCullum-Stokes era and, while Salt hasn’t played any red-ball games this season, prioritising the IPL ahead of the T20 World Cup, he averages 43 across the last two seasons for Lancashire in the County Championship. Rob Key recently said that the lack of Championship cricket will not stand in a player’s way for the Test keeper’s spot, and a continued run of form over the next month will help Salt’s case.

Ollie Robinson

Robinson could not have asked for a better start to his season. Despite a strong 2023, during which he scored 931 runs at an average of 58 for the now-promoted Durham, and a decent run for England Lions last winter, Robinson still needed a few big scores in Division One cricket to prove his credentials for a Test spot. With almost 500 runs after his first five games this season at an average of over 80, he has certainly attracted more attention. None more so than that of his Durham teammate and England Test skipper Ben Stokes, who closely witnessed Robinson’s unbeaten 171 in the second innings for Durham against Lancashire in the latest round. 

Jamie Smith

Not very often does an uncapped batter outshine a several England names in the same county side, but Smith has done that on more than one occasion at Surrey this season. Smith has had to play second-choice keeper to fellow Test spot candidate Foakes for Surrey but, like Foakes, is a highly skilful wicket-keeper. Meanwhile, his batting form has been excellent. After six matches this season, Smith has scored 394 runs at an average of 56 coming in at No. 4, with four 50+ scores including a 155 in Surrey’s win over Warwickshire. Smith averages over 40 after his first 56 first-class games and is knocking on the doors of England selection.

James Rew

Even before he turned 20, James Rew forced many to take notice, with over 1000 runs and five hundreds in Championship cricket last year. His batting style isn’t as closely aligned with England’s current Test approach as others in the race, and he had a difficult start to the season with a string of low scores. However, he returned to form with a century in Somerset’s win over Kent in the last round of fixtures. He has also produced decent returns behind the stumps this season. While still 20 and not expected to occupy the England keeper-batter spot as soon as this summer, Rew’s performances will be closely followed.

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