Revenge of the “Peter Who?”
It must've been a great week for Peter Nevill. Only a few days ago, he was selected as the wicket-keeper for this season's Australian Cricketers' Association All-Star team. Today, he was called up to cover the dauphin, Matthew Wade, in the West Indies, after Brad Haddin returned to Australia to attend some personal matters.
Nevill, a Victorian who had a fantastic season for New South Wales, was far and away the best candidate for the position. This is partly due to his excellent batsmanship and relative youth. Although fully deserving his airfare, the ease of his selection indicates an antipodean lack of wicket-keeping choice.
Examine quickly those 'keepers used this year in state cricket. Only Queensland's Chris Hartley played all ten Shield games; he did so boasting the sprightly batting average of 26. Although excellent behind the poles, Hartley's a throwback to the years before 1995: strictly a domestic backstop who occasionally contributes handy runs.
Looking Southwards only adds to the gall. Tim Paine is why we can't have nice things. Adam Crosthwaite managed only five games for a state that won only two points all season. Michael Johnston averaged 10.1 with the bat for Western Australia and his replacement, Luke “Not Dead Yet” Ronchi fared little better and now wants to play for New Zealand. Wade's understudy, Ryan Carters, lost his spot in the Victorian team for the last, most crucial, Shield match of the season to Peter Handscomb – who hasn't even kept in District cricket.
This must also be considered the final bell for Haddin's Test career. With the nature of the matters he has returned to closely guarded, no-one can know how much of the tour he will miss. Although receiving selector Rod Marsh's blessing, Haddin is unquestionably feeling the pinch.
One feels his position is now very much Wade's for the taking.