Ashes cricket 2022: Alex Carey wicketkeeping under the microscope after four missed chances

Alex Carey’s wicketkeeping has come under the microscope after a couple of missed chances during the New Year’s Ashes Test.

Alex Carey’s wicketkeeping has come under the microscope after a couple of missed chances during the New Year’s Ashes Test in Sydney.

The South Australian made his Test debut at the Gabba last month after former Australian captain Tim Paine stepped away from the game to focus on his mental wellbeing.

Carey’s Test career got off to a flying start, with the gloveman pouching eight chances in Brisbane to break the all-time record for most catches on debut.

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The 30-year-old backed it up with a maiden Test fifty at Adelaide Oval to help Australia post a formidable first-innings total in the second Ashes Test.

But Carey’s glovework and batting has deteriorated as the series progressed, with a worrying flaw emerging behind the stumps.

On day three of the Sydney Test, Carey put down a regulation chance to gift England opener Haseeb Hameed an extra life at the crease.

Mitchell Starc found the right-hander’s outside edge, and the Kookaburra flew towards David Warner at first slip. But Carey dived across to his right and the ball fell out of his outstretched glove onto the deck.

Less than 48 hours later, Hameed was handed another reprieve in the 17th over of the second innings when Carey spilt a low chance off Pat Cummins’ bowling, again to his right side.

Thankfully, Hameed edged another delivery soon after without adding to his tally – Carey made no mistakes on this occasion.

“This is a brewing conversation that nobody wants to have. It’s the quality of Alex Carey’s keeping,” commentator Gerard Whateley said on SEN.

“Your Test keeper has got to be taking those chances.”

Victorian head coach Chris Rogers continued: “His right foot got a little bit stuck underneath him. It actually went a little bit towards the leg-side … because of that, he was late a little bit to the ball.”

Former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin elaborated on Triple M: “Technically he had a bit of an achilles heel, just low to his right.

“He’s very flat-footed when he goes … you’re meant to be pushing hard off that left foot.

“All he’s doing, he’s dropping his right leg to make way. He’s not getting any power to go and get power out of that left foot to go for that catch.”

Former Test gloveman Adam Gilchrist told Fox Cricket: “He’s got himself in a little rut there now in that exact area.

“That’s two in this game now. The disappointment – it’s a horrible feeling.”

Australian great Shane Warne continued: “It’s just starting to be a bit of an issue.”

Both dropped chances exposed a problem with Carey’s technique on his right-hand side, while two incidents earlier in the series suggested his judgment in that area was also clouded.

In the Adelaide and Melbourne Tests, Carey and David Warner were left staring at each other when an outside edge flew between the pair at first slip. On both occasions, it was the keeper’s catch.

To make matters worse for Carey, he missed a tough run-out in the afternoon session on day five, with first-innings centurion Jonny Bairstow making his ground.

“This is all part of the learnings of Test cricket and the intensity of Test cricket and the scrutiny of Test cricket (after) he seamlessly walked into Test match cricket at the Gabba and we all praised how relaxed he looked,” Gilchrist said.

“He started beautifully and then what he learnt very quickly is you’ve got to back it up every day, every session, every hour, every minute.

“It’ll be a confidence issue now, believe me.”

Carey’s batting has also been a cause for concern – the left-hander has scored 110 runs at 15.71 in seven knocks. He’s been a superb batter for Australia in the white-ball formats but is yet to convert that form into the Test arena.

Carey’s woes have gone unnoticed because of Australia’s success in the series, but West Australian gloveman Josh Inglis will be breathing down his neck if there isn’t improvement.

Inglis stormed his way into national contention on the back of a formidable 2020/21 summer that included three Sheffield Shield centuries for Western Australia and a batting average of 73.12.

But after Paine stepped aside in November, national selectors opted for the more experienced Carey, who had already represented Australia in 83 one-day fixtures.

Inglis was added to the Test squad as cover after Australian batter Travis Head tested positive to Covid-19 in Melbourne, but Carey will almost certainly be picked for the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart, which gets underway on Friday, January 14.

Originally published as ‘Couldn’t catch Covid’: Alex Carey’s wicketkeeping under the microscope after four missed chances

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