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Ashes 2021/22

Does Alex Carey have what it takes to be Australia’s Test keeper?

by Divy Tripathi 5 minute read

With Alex Carey all but confirmed as Tim Paine’s replacement as Australia Test wicketkeeper, Divy Tripathi looks into his credentials for the post.

Australia’s usual boisterous preparation for the Ashes, oft including by five-nil predictions and the rest, have been thrown into turmoil after the Tim Paine scandal hit the setup. Suddenly, the hosts find themselves on the backfoot. The biggest questions are, however, the cricketing ones. While a replacement skipper has been named in Pat Cummins, Alex Carey has been seemingly inked in as Australia’s new keeper, with his competitor Josh Inglis flying home to Perth, effectively ruling him out of the first Test.

It is a tough call, with the former legends sitting divided. Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne have backed Inglis, while Mark Taylor has called for Carey.

Carey did a last-minute favour for himself with a hundred in the recent Marsh Cup encounter for South Australia. This was needed because the South Australia keeper hasn’t had the best time with the bat in the Sheffield Shield. This season he has scored 153 runs at 21.85 in five games.

One needs to only look at Wriddhiman Saha and Ben Foakes to understand that exceptional keeping skills aren’t the only consideration for selecting a modern-day keeper. And Alex Carey has shown that he’s a player in Adam Gilchrist’s mould more than once, albeit mostly in white-ball cricket. There’s not much wrong with his keeping either, but Carey has a confident way of going about things when he walks out to bat.

He might’ve been overlooked in the Australia T20 setup, but Carey has delivered regularly at the ODI level. Arriving in 2018, he was able to string up a number of impressive scores in the middle-order. Initally, he was often seen providing stability to the middle-order, and putting in cameos when the side needed them.

A few months later at the global stage, Carey was able to show off his batting skills, scoring 375 runs at 62.50 in the 2019 World Cup. He fought till the end against India and South Africa, and won Player of the Match for his work with the bat and behind the stumps against New Zealand.

Given Australia’s propensity to back a keeper for long stretches, Carey hasn’t yet got his time in the baggy green. He came close though, having been selected as Paine’s back-up for the later-cancelled South Africa tour.

This wasn’t based on any random state of affairs, but Carey’s rise as a red-ball cricketer. In 2020, he had discussed how he’d risen as a first-class cricketer over the last few years. Despite not playing many games, Carey has impressed with the bat. He scored 150 runs at 75 in 2018/19 Shield season, 386 runs at 55.14 in 2019/20, and 299 runs at 59.8 in the 2020/21 Shield season.

As already stated his keeping is never under question, and the South Australian has leadership experience as well, including for Australia in ODIs. If selected, one can expect Carey to fill in several roles, including that of becoming a member of the senior side’s think tank, providing ready advice to Pat Cummins. It might be a last-minute call, but Carey can become a long-term option behind the wickets for the Australia Test side. There might be naysayers who state that Carey’s too old at 30, but then a certain 28-year-old wicketkeeper was winning Australia games not long after his debut.

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