Vodafone Men's Ashes
Carey set for Gabba debut as Australia's Ashes keeper
South Australian Alex Carey will make his Test debut at the Gabba in the opening Ashes Test after winning the race to replace Tim Paine as Australia's wicketkeeper
2 December 2021, 11:32 AM AEST
Alex Carey will take the gloves for Australia to begin their Ashes campaign next week and has the chance to entrench himself as Tim Paine's long-term successor as Test wicketkeeper.
Cricket Australia today confirmed the South Australian had won out over rising star Josh Inglis to replace Paine in Australia's squad for the first two Tests against England.
Barring a late hiccup, Carey will receive his Baggy Green at the Gabba next Wednesday and become the 461st player represent Australia's men's Test team.
While Australia's planned intra-squad match at Brisbane's Redlands ground this week fell victim to the deluge of rain dumped on the city in recent days, Inglis flew home to Perth for a pre-planned visit to reconnect with family, having completed a fortnight of quarantine after returning from the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Paine's resignation as Test captain and subsequent decision to take an indefinite break from the game left Australia in need of a new keeper less than a fortnight before the country's most anticipated cricket contest.
"I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead," Carey said in a release.
"My focus is on preparing and playing my part in helping Australia secure the Ashes.
"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud.”
Carey, Australia's 50-over keeper who stood in as captain of that team in July, had long been considered the understudy to Paine.
But Inglis' dominating domestic form over recent summers, which included three Marsh Sheffield Shield centuries last season, saw him vault into contention.
The 26-year-old was the back-up keeper in Australia's T20 World Cup-winning squad and has been tipped by the likes of Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne as having a big international future.
He now firmly appears to be the No.2 option behind Carey, and will return to Queensland to feature in next week's Australia A match against England Lions.
While Carey's Shield form with the bat to start the season has been patchy, passing fifty just once in eight innings and averaging 21.85, he has in fact been one of the more consistent first-class run makers in Australia over recent years.
Over the preceding three Sheffield Shield seasons, the left-hander has averaged 59.64 with the bat and scored four hundreds in nine matches.
That's despite his playing time with the Redbacks' red-ball team being consistently interrupted by stints with Australia's white-ball teams.
On his recent lean path in the Shield (admittedly punctuated by two Marsh One-Day Cup centuries), Carey this week told cricket.com.au: "What was really important for me in that period was to continue to stay really positive and work on things that I know work for me.
"You never like getting out early, and I guess for a number of games there I was finding ways to get out, but I never felt like I was going badly."
His glovework has also earnt praise, particularly to pace bowling, most notably during his first full season in SA's Sheffield Shield team in 2016-17 when he broke the record for the most dismissals in a season.
Another aspect of Carey's allure lies in the leadership qualities Australia first formally acknowledged when they appointed him vice-captain of the limited-overs teams in 2018.
Carey, the first ever captain of the Greater Western Sydney Giants Australian rules football team (whom he led when they were still in their infancy and yet to be admitted as a senior AFL club), skippered Australia's 50-over side earlier this year in Barbados due to an injury to Aaron Finch and led them to a series win against the West Indies.
The age-old question for picking keepers in the modern cricket environment is whether their glovework or their batting is more important.
England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, one of the world's best white-ball players and a game-changing long-form batter on his day, insisted the former remains as important as the latter despite Adam Gilchrist's remarkable batting skill changing the equation for Test teams the world over.
"Adam Gilchrist ruined it for everyone, didn't he?" a smiling Buttler said on Tuesday.
"Certainly I think you feel that pressure as a wicketkeeper knowing you're the only wicketkeeper on the team," said Buttler. "That position is incredibly vital, you're trying to take every chance that comes your way.
"You're the only guy with the gloves on, so as an individual I try to lean my practice more towards my wicketkeeping, just because everyone (else) is going to bat.
"You're desperate, as the only guy with the gloves on, to make sure you perform to the best of your abilities (behind the stumps) for the team.
"But since Gilchrist tipped it upside down for everyone up, you've got to be brilliant at both."
Vodafone Men's Ashes
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium