NSW wicketkeeper Peter Nevill is targeting an Australian Test recall in this summer’s Magellan Ashes series, hoping a strong start to the domestic summer will help him force his way back into the XI.
Nevill was replaced by incumbent Test ‘keeper Matthew Wade last November, as part of an overhaul of the Australian side following their crushing defeat to South Africa in Hobart – fifth in succession for Steve Smith’s side.
But with Wade under recent pressure in Bangladesh, averaging 21.25 with the bat from nine Tests since his return and having let through 30 byes during the first Test – albeit on a difficult Dhaka surface – Nevill can sense an opportunity.
"It’s all about playing the best cricket I can,” Nevill told the Illawarra Mercury of his hopes of returning to the Australia XI for the first Test in Brisbane in November.
"And that’s going to be for NSW in the one-day tournament and then there’s going to be two or three Shield games before the Ashes squad gets announced."
Australia had considered handing the gloves to part-time ‘keeper Peter Handscomb for the second Test in Chittagong, but Wade ultimately held on to his place and made a composed start on day one, taking a catch off Ashton Agar and executing a sharp leg-side stumping off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.
He let through just five byes as Bangladesh were bowled out for 305 shortly before lunch on the second morning and pouched a second catch off Agar, with his day one efforts in the oppressive Chittagong heat drawing praise from Lyon.
"We talk about having energy and intent when we go out on the field,” Lyon said. “Matty has been really working hard with Brad Haddin our assistant coach on this tour and Brad has always been about leading from the front. He always spoke about that when he was keeping for Australia.
"Matt Wade has been brilliant. He got good reward from that stumping today. It wasn’t the best ball I’ve ever bowled, but I thought he did a pretty good job in severe heat."
But Wade remains under pressure to score runs at No.7, with captain Smith insisting in the lead-up to the Test the side needed "a little bit more" from him with the bat.
"It certainly would be a tough call (to drop Wade)," Smith said. "I think when we are looking at Matty we just need a little bit more from him with the bat in particular.
"He knows that he has to do a little bit better with the bat. And he’s had those conversations."
In 17 Tests for Australia, Nevill took 61 catches and two stumpings, scoring three half-centuries at an average of 22.28.
The NSW ‘keeper has the backing of Test great Ian Healy, who told Wide World of Sports last weekend he still considers Nevill to be the country’s top wicketkeeper.
"I said at the time (last summer) Peter Nevill was unlucky to get dropped,” Healy said. “I consider him the best gloveman in the country, and he’d just made an unbeaten 60 in Perth, then got dropped a match later.
"If Wade has a good Test in Chittagong I expect he’ll be there at the Gabba.
"But if he struggles the selectors will definitely be looking around. It may come down to who does the best in the first couple of Shield matches.
"But the Ashes is no time to be looking at someone new. If it’s not Wade, they have to go back to Nevill."
Nevill will have a chance to press his case for a Test return during the JLT One-Day Cup, which begins later this month, while all of Australia’s Test hopefuls will have the benefit of three rounds of Sheffield Shield action before the opening Test at the Gabba.
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21