Sometimes it feels like the Australian selectors never make good decisions. In fact, Cricket Australia’s administrators are probably the only ones with a worse track record than the selection panel, but in the case of Alex Carey they got it right.
In fact, I think they’ve made a couple of good decisions lately. Cummins as captain is a brave choice but only in terms of the statistical rarity of a bowler being captain. Besides that, he ticks all the boxes. Plus with a former skipper in Smith as his deputy, any doubts or gaps in Cummins captaincy should be covered.
But let’s get back to the wicketkeepers.
A good argument can be made for either of the Josh’s; Inglis and Philippe. Both are younger than Carey and have shown enough skill with both gloves and bat to be rushed into the Australian side to be blooded as long-term ‘keepers for the Test team.
But at age 30 I think Alex Carey is the right choice. More international experience, more life experience and therefore presumably a cooler head makes him the ideal candidate to step in for an Ashes series, arguably the most important series in the Australian Test team calendar any given year.
Plus, we currently hold the Ashes. We have something to lose. If we were trying to regain them then sure, throw caution to the wind. But with retention on the line I think the more mature Carey is a smarter option to take the step up to Test level right now.
Now, should Carey have a dismal series then either of the aforementioned Josh’s will be knocking down the door for selection.
If not, there is still a minimum 4-5 year window of opportunity for Carey to cement himself in the side and retire as Test ‘keeper.
With Pat Cummins assuming captaincy with the experience of Steve Smith in support, Carey is free to focus on his glove work and batting without the added burden of leadership like his undeserving and overwhelmed predecessor.
The rise of Inglis and Philippe is great news for Australian cricket as we now have a depth of choice behind the stumps that has been missing for a long time. Carey will no doubt be aware of their talents and that should also dissuade any complacency on his behalf.
Carey also seems to have a great temperament and attitude, something Paine fooled many into believing true about himself, although those of us who saw Paine play at state level (when he wasn’t injured) saw his true colours.
Tim Paine was an overrated wicket keeper and a terrible captain on the field. The fact that he is now out of the picture boosts Australia’s chances in the Ashes but the smart selection of Carey bolsters those hopes even further.
Realistically, Carey should have been given a shot in the Test side years ago instead of bringing in Paine, whose selection into the side and gifting of the captaincy remain as bewildering today as the day they occurred. His reward for many years of strong, consistent performances for South Australia is well overdue.
Alex Carey deserves this opportunity and I hope he can seize it with both hands. If he does, it will help Australia do something they could not with Paine at the helm – win an Ashes series outright.