Alex Carey earmarked as Australia’s long-term wicketkeeper across all forms. Picture: AFP
Alex Carey earmarked as Australia’s long-term wicketkeeper across all forms. Picture: AFP

Selectors keep faith in Carey’s safe pair of hands

Australian selectors have made a strong decision to show full faith in Alex Carey as World Cup wicketkeeper.

Peter Handscomb, Tim Paine and Matthew Wade will all feature in an Australia A squad in the UK at the same time, meaning there are technically options on the ground in the case of emergency. Players can be replaced out of World Cup squads in the event of tournament-ending injury.

But Carey is the sole gloveman in Australia's Cup 15.

Shaun Marsh has edged out Handscomb for the final place in the World Cup squad, even though the Victorian could have doubled as batting and keeping back-up all-in-one.

But there was no safety net for Brad Haddin in the last World Cup four years ago, and by again choosing not to include a Plan B, selectors have told Carey that they believe.

Of course the worst case scenario now is Carey could break a finger before the toss of a big game with no replacement possible.

However, that is an unlikely scenario and a negative one to cater for in a squad where every spot in the 15 is precious. If anything, Australia would have loved another batsman who could bowl, if they were looking for a versatile utility.

Had Handscomb been picked, it might have only served to unsettle Carey because a subtle pressure would have lingered to perform or risk losing your spot to the No.2.

Selectors would have liked more from Carey with the bat over the past few months. But in the end they have rightly decided that the best course of action is to embolden the South Australian, by telling him that the wicketkeeping job is his and his alone.

At the start of the pre-Cup selection tours of India and the UAE, Handscomb took the gloves instead of Carey in a couple of Twenty20 internationals.

It was a sign that selectors were open to alternatives behind the stumps.

During the one-dayers, Carey was picked as keeper again, but Handscomb's classy form with the bat ensured that speculation continued to bubble in the background that Australia had a tempting alternative.

Aaron Finch's run of poor form also opened up real consideration to Paine being brought in from the clouds as World Cup keeper, if the ODI skipper and opener didn't come good.

Leadership was key, and if Finch couldn't be picked, Carey might have to be sacrificed for the Test captain.

Of course Finch caught fire against Pakistan and all that was put to bed in an instant.

All that doubt, speculation and innuendo is ancient history now and selectors are right to now offer Carey the ultimate show of faith.

He is likely to also serve as one of Finch's vice-captains.

For Australia A, it's likely Handscomb will keep in games where Paine doesn't play and Wade is there more as a specialist batsman following his 1000 run Sheffield Shield season.

The next question is who will be Paine's back-up keeper for the Ashes?

On that front, Handscomb looks a strong chance to oust Carey.


AUSTRALIAN CONTRACT LIST: Patrick Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

AUSTRALIA A ONE-DAY SQUAD: Travis Head (c) (South Australia), Matthew Wade (Tasmania), Will Pucovski (Victoria), Peter Handscomb (Victoria), Ashton Turner (Western Australia), Mitch Marsh (vc) (Western Australia), D'Arcy Short (Western Australia), Kurtis Patterson (New South Wales), Ashton Agar (Western Australia), Michael Neser (Queensland), James Pattinson (Victoria), Josh Hazlewood (vc) (New South Wales), Kane Richardson (South Australia), Sean Abbott (New South Wales)

AUSTRALIA A FOUR-DAY SQUAD: Tim Paine (c) (Tasmania), Marcus Harris (Victoria), Kurtis Patterson (New South Wales), Will Pucovski (Victoria), Travis Head (vc) (South Australia), Peter Handscomb (Victoria), Matthew Wade (Tasmania), Mitch Marsh (Western Australia), Michael Neser (Queensland), Jon Holland (Victoria), James Pattinson (Victoria)

Jackson Bird (Tasmania), Josh Hazlewood (vc) (New South Wales), Chris Tremain (Victoria)