Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 76 Days Until the Ashes…
New WCW columnist Daniel Gray contrasts the fortunes of the two keepers most likely to lineup in the opening test at The Gabba.
As fans continue to eagerly await another round of cricket’s greatest rivalry this summer, it is well worth considering the often forgotten men behind the stumps. As things currently stand, the incumbents are Brad Haddin for Australia and Matt Prior for England. Both men are vastly experienced cricketers, enduring a long tour of duty in state and county ranks respectively before receiving the national call-up. Despite consistent and competent performances by the two keepers with bat and gloves in their careers to date, they are no doubt aware of the young tyros nipping at their heels.
Due to a continuing recovery from injury for Haddin, the man behind the stumps for Australia in their final Test hit outs before the Ashes will be Tasmanian Tim Paine, a 25 year old batsman-keeper who has hardly put a cricket boot wrong in his limited national appearances to date. Making his Test debut in the recent series against Pakistan, Paine averaged a handy 26 with the bat while effecting 12 dismissals in the two matches. Combine this with an average of 32 in his 23 ODI appearances to date, and it is easy to see why Haddin will need to perform consistently this summer in all forms of the game keep the youngster at bay.
Matt Prior may well be one of the unluckier players in international cricket today, often discarded and recalled by England’s selectors despite solid performances in the longer and shorter versions of the game. While Prior is unlikely to lose his Test spot this summer thanks to a strong batting average of 42, he finds himself again out of the ODI and T20 sides, this time replaced by 24 year old Steve Davies.
While no old timer at 28, Prior may well struggle to find his way back into the side if Davies performs well or 22 year old South African wunderkind Craig Kieswetter rediscovers his globetrotting form from early 2010. It may be time for the wily keeper break out some psychological warfare on his competitors in the form of some well-timed sledges during training camp. This may be the area that distinguishes the good from the great behind the stumps.
As the old enemies engage in another fierce round of Test battles later this year, their keepers’ fortunes may dictate their own. If either man fails to fire with the bat at number 7, questions will no doubt be asked sooner rather than later, and we could see a changing of the guard before summer is done.
Where Next? Choose from the Latest cricket stories…
Liked this post? You should subscribe to our email updates - why subscribe.