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Chris Austin: 1st Team Wicket Keeper and Guardian Reader, mmmm
Austin has emerged as the clubs regular wicketkeeper and likes nothing more than to spend his weekends handling balls and taking it from behind.
Since making his debut in 2003, Austin has developed into a solid and reliable keeper, albeit one who is prone to the odd bit of flapping about behind the stumps. Despite the occasional choice comment from the slip cordon after making a particular hash of a routine chance, Austin is his harshest critic although he no longer exercises the same level of self-recrimination that he showed in his early days behind the stumps. Back then a bungled stumping opportunity transformed Austin into a snarling Tourettes sufferer hell-bent on self-flagellation. Today he brings a welcome sense of perspective to the cricketing equivalent of HMS Bounty.
Austin demonstrates good hands when keeping to the seamers and has improved his footwork this season. He has proved to be an outstanding foil to the slow bowlers at the club and the man they call the Kestrel is swift to pounce once the unwary batsman ventures too far out of his ground.
His batting remains a puzzle although there are signs that he is trying to adopt a new approach at the crease as he goes in search of the first six of his career. Once coached by former England legend Mike Gatting, Austin nonetheless is a devout member of the Tavaré sect and is never happier than when holding up an end and blocking back rank offerings from the opposition bowlers. Despite his bulky frame and obvious power, Austin frowns upon the concept of hitting boundaries and prefers to work for his runs, pushing hard for singles whenever he can. He has the ability to drop anchor for long periods of time, content to nurdle the odd delivery through third man or deflect the occasional shot off his legs to prevent the score board from freezing up completely.
Perhaps not surprisingly for a man who has spent a significant part of his life in Switzerland, Austin remains a neutral in the battle for runs.