JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
A familiar embrace as Carey hits new heights
With a close mate on hand to see him get the monkey off his back, the promising wicketkeeper is eyeing bigger things this summer
5 December 2017, 05:13 PM AEST
As Alex Carey’s venture into previously uncharted territory continued in the country’s far north on Monday, it was fitting that a familiar face in Chadd Sayers was on hand to make the gloveman’s maiden first-class century possible.
Carey had resumed the second day of South Australia's JLT Sheffield Shield match against Queensland in Cairns unbeaten on 39 with the hosts just two wickets away from ending the Redbacks' first innings.
But after finding an able partner in Sayers, Carey put on 117 for the ninth wicket with the prolific quick before the two came together in an extended embrace when the wicketkeeper reached triple figures for the first time in domestic cricket.
"I probably owe him a cold drink or two after the game. It was very exciting," Carey told cricket.com.au of the paceman who assisted on more than a third of his record-breaking 59 Shield dismissals last season.
"To make my hundred with a great mate out there was great.
"We room together every trip and play at the same local club back at Glenelg.
"It was a great little moment out on the wicket, something I'm very pleased about and will be able to look back on (fondly)."
By his own admission, the ton was a monkey off Carey’s back.
Last season he became just the fourth gloveman to notch 500 runs and 50 dismissals in a single Shield season (Adam Gilchrist, Chris Hartley and Matthew Wade are the others) but 22 first-class games without a century had the South Australian a little uneasy.
The time it took to notch his maiden century is largely consistent with the precedent set by Test keepers Gilchrist (whose first ton came after 18 first-class matches), Brad Haddin (29 matches) and Wade (18), with Peter Nevill (two tons in his first seven games) the outlier.
Carey nonetheless felt the pressure and with that box now checked, a move up the order is next on his agenda.
Here's the moment Alex Carey brought up his maiden first-class century!LIVE: https://t.co/UJmw5ZX43B #SheffieldShield #QLDvSA pic.twitter.com/Oy6rL2vPpf— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) December 4, 2017
"When you start getting up to 20, 21, 22 games, I guess you think about it," the 26-year-old said of his hunger for triple-digits.
"You probably think after about 20 games, 'When is it going to come?'. I'm very pleased that it's come in this game in a pretty tough situation.
"As a number seven I'm a recognised batter in the side and I need to do that more regularly now and help win games for South Australia.
"Hopefully I can push my way into the top six for South Australia. You see Nevill and the likes of Wade, they've pushed their way into the top order and made big runs."
On the back of his record-breaking Shield season, Carey had been thrust into the conversation over the Test keeping spot during the opening three rounds of this summer's competition.
While scores of 12, 4, 36, 20 and 46 not out failed to move the needle far enough in his favour, the left-hander hasn’t been discouraged by his initial brush with Ashes hype.
"It would have been nice to bash down the door and say, 'hello, pick me', but it wasn't to be," he continued.
"It's the first time my name has been out there as a possibility along with some really good glovemen around the country. It was a new situation.
"(But) I don't sit back and regret the start of the season.
"I can't change that now and at the time I thought I was batting quite well and just getting starts unfortunately.
"Moving forward I have that belief now and if I can help us win games, that'll get recognised. If we're winning games I think that'll help us get recognised (along with) a few of our other players as well."
Carey was perhaps closer to receiving a surprise call-up than most observers would have presumed given selectors also overlooked Wade and Nevill in favour of Tim Paine – who had not even been keeping for Tasmania – for the Magellan Ashes.
Far from being discouraged by Paine's selection, Carey says he's closely observed the Tasmanian's work over the years.
"I really like the way Tim Paine wicketkeeps," he said.
"I looked at him quite closely when he was playing at the top of his game as someone that you want to keep like.
"He's a really good gloveman. I don't think it was shocking – I think it was an interesting selection, one that the selectors went for a really experienced gloveman."