Surrey’s England keepers

Published: 29th November, 2019

When Jos Buttler suffered a back injury in New Zealand, England have turned to Ollie Pope to take the gloves for the second Test in Hamilton. Richard Spiller takes a look at the other Surrey players who have been called up – and one who missed out in controversial circumstances…

Ted Pooley

The story of Ted Pooley is a tragic one.

His brilliant work behind the stumps, aiding left-arm spinner John Southerton for Surrey in many dismissals for 17 years from 1866 ensured he was set to be behind the stumps for England at the inaugural Test against Australia 11 years later.

But Pooley’s work on the field was in contrast to his waywardness off it. When that Test came to be played, Pooley was languishing in a prison cell in New Zealand following a dispute. He had previously been suspended by Surrey for “insubordination and misconduct” and in New Zealand, while injured, he was involved in a row over a bet he had taken when umpiring a tour match.

Pooley was arrested for alleged assault and although subsequently acquitted, it spelt the end of his Test career before it had even started. He died bankrupt and in a workhouse.

The former Surrey scorer Keith Booth his written a fascinating book on Pooley’s life.

Herbert Strudwick

Surrey’s keeper for 25 years, ‘Struddy’ played 28 Tests for England between 1910 and 1926, his final appearance at The Oval helping win back the Ashes.

Strudwick was 46 by then, a year from the end of a first-class career which brought him 1,493 dismissals – a record for the time – and he was acknowledged as one of the all-time great glovemen. His gentle demeanour made him among the most popular of players too.

He might have played more Tests had he been a better batsmen but his colleagues maintained that he more than made up for that with his work behind the stumps.

Once Strudwick retired he became Surrey’s scorer for another 30 years and, when asked how a keeper should avoid finger injuries, he advised that they should rinse their hands in the chamber pot each day to harden them. It’s not known how many took that tip.

Arthur McIntyre

Born in Kennington – within sight of The Oval – Arthur McIntyre devoted his life to Surrey cricket.  Originally a leg-spinner, he made his first-class debut just before the Second World War and was 28 by the time cricket restarted. But he was to be a key figure in the Surrey side which won seven County Championships in a row in the 1950s, a magnificently agile wicketkeeper who relished standing up to the seam and swing of Alec Bedser and the spin of Tony Lock and Jim Laker.

That McIntyre played only three Tests was down to the presence of Kent’s more spectacular if less consistent Godfrey Evans but he still played in three Tests. His only appearance against Australia, in 1950-51, was as an extra batsman and he was run out after being called for an impossible fourth run by Evans.

McIntyre took over from Andy Sandham as Surrey coach at the end of the 1950s, which prolonged his Surrey career by another two decades.

Roy Swetman

In the wreckage of England’s tour to Australia in 1958-59, which was lost 4-0, Roy Swetman took over from Godfrey Evans, having been identified as his long-term successor.

Swetman’s emergence encouraged Arthur McIntyre to curtail his playing career and concentrate on coaching and he was England’s first-choice through 1959 and into their following winter’s tour of West Indies. But he faded away, his England career lasting just 11 Tests, and Swetman retired aged 28. He came back again later, to play two seasons for Nottinghamshire before packing up again, a third coming seeing him enjoy three years with Gloucestershire.

Jack Richards

Single-minded and determined, Jack Richards made a remarkable transformation from tailender at the start of his career in 1976 to scoring a century in an Ashes Test.

He had to keep to a fine variety of bowlers for Surrey, making acrobatic takes from Sylvester Clarke’s thunderbolts and unpicking the wiles of spinners Intikhab Alam and Pat Pocock. His first international recognition came when he was picked as Bob Taylor’s deputy for the tour to India in 1981-82, where he made his ODI debut.

The Cornishman had to wait until the Ashes tour of 1986-87 for his moment in the limelight. Sent ostensibly as Bruce French’s deputy, he nosed ahead and was picked ahead of him throughout the five-match Test series, which England won 2-1. Although he made a duck in Brisbane, Richards more than made up for it by cracking 133 in the next match at Perth, adding 207 for the sixth wicket with David Gower in a mammoth total of 592-8dec.

French regained his spot soon after and Richards gained only three more Test caps, two of them in the 1988 series against West Indies in which England were thumped 4-0. His last appearance came at The Oval in his testimonial year but it proved a mixed season – he lost his England place to Jack Russell and was released at the end of the season in skipper Ian Greig’s clearout of senior players. At 30, a career of eight Tests and 22 one-day internationals was over.

Alec Stewart

All-round ability can be a mixed blessing.

Alec Stewart’s 133 Tests for England – there were 170 ODIs as well – saw him switching from top-order batsman to wicketkeeper coming in lower down for much of his 14-year international career before he settled into the latter role for the final stretch.

Opening was the role he relished most and 51 Tests as a specialist batsman included nine centuries, two of them in the same match as England beat West Indies in Barbados in 1994. But more often than not, efforts to balance the side meant Stewart’s skill with the gloves was utilised – of the 13 Tests he played at The Oval (usually the final game of the series), he kept in 12 of them.

A total of 263 catches and 14 stumpings were the fruits of his labours, Stewart’s final appearance in both Test and first-class cricket seeing him carried around The Oval by his England team-mates after they had beaten South Africa in 2003.

Ben Foakes

Just over a year ago, Ben Foakes had celebrated his Test debut by hitting a match-winning century against Sri Lanka and was showing why he is widely as the finest keeper of his generation.

An injury to Jonny Bairstow had seen Foakes getting a late call, grasping the opportunity with typical elan, but after five Tests England revised their plans and there was no place for the Surrey man. At 26 there is plenty of time for more caps and with another tour of Sri Lanka in the offing, who is to say Foakes won’t be back soon?

Ollie Pope

Ollie Pope’s impressive display behind the stumps on the opening day of the Hamilton Test will come as no surprise to those who have witnessed his rise in the game.

He showed few nerves when given his county debut as an 18-year-old straight out of school in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final against Yorkshire at Headingley three years ago, scampering around the outfield.

Pope spent most of his early career keeping, whether for Cranleigh School or at Guildford, where he was given his Surrey Championship first team debut as a 15-year-old.

With Ben Foakes and now Jamie Smith in the Oval dressing room alongside, he has concentrated on batting in recent times but put on the gloves three times last season in the Vitality Blast –  once he had returned from a dislocated shoulder which cost three months – and kept ably in Foakes’s absence during the 2018 County Championship title run. His five first-class matches keeping make him England’s least experienced since Dick Young versus Australia at Sydney in 1907.

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