Ashes 2021-22: South Australian Alex Carey could follow Adam Gilchrist path to Test cricket at the Gabba

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John TownsendThe West Australian
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South Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey is the front-runner to take the gloves for Australia at the Gabba.
Camera IconSouth Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey is the front-runner to take the gloves for Australia at the Gabba. Credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Alex Carey is set to mirror wicket-keeping great Adam Gilchrist by making a Gabba Test debut after the contentious exit of a veteran predecessor.

Carey, who is 30 and shares a birthday with Australia’s greatest cricketer Don Bradman, is the leading contender to replace Tim Paine in the first Ashes Test next month.

Paine’s Test career appears to be over after he stood down from all cricket only two weeks before the start of the Ashes series.

Endorsed by Gilchrist as the most likely successor to Paine only days before the Tasmanian’s captaincy evaporated amid a texting scandal, Carey could follow his fellow left-hander’s path into the Test team.

Carey has been the Australian one-day keeper for the past three years, claiming 51 catches and six stumpings after taking the gloves in the team’s past 42 appearances, during a successful international apprenticeship in the 50-over format.

Gilchrist had an identical route into Test cricket in the late 1990s before producing one of the greatest careers in cricket’s history.

He kept in Australia’s previous 66 one-dayers before replacing Test gloveman Ian Healy at the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Moises Henriques of Australia (left) celebrates with Alex Carey after taking the wicket of Shreyas Iyer of India during the second ODI cricket match between Australia and India at the SCG in Sydney, Sunday, November 29, 2020. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY, IMAGES TO BE USED FOR NEWS REPORTING PURPOSES ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE WHATSOEVER, NO USE IN BOOKS WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM AAP
Camera IconAlex Carey has been a prominent member of Australia’s limited overs teams for the past few years. Credit: DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAPIMAGE

Healy was reluctant to stand down from the Test team, seeking a farewell against Pakistan in front of his home crowd at the Gabba, only to be forced into retirement on the grounds that Australia did not issue testimonial Test matches to departing players.

Carey is ahead of WA’s Josh Inglis, the reserve keeper at the recent T20 World Cup, with Queenslander Jimmy Peirson and former Test gloveman Matthew Wade not considered genuine candidates.

“My assumption is that Alex Carey would be slightly in front of the others to jump into a Test position,” Gilchrist said this month.

“I think that would be a smooth transition given Alex’s experience around the national team and they know him.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 26:  Usman Khawaja of the Queensland Bulls and Alex Carey of the Redbacks at the end of play during day four of the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and Queensland at Karen Rolton Oval, on November 26, 2021, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)
Camera IconUsman Khawaja and Alex Carey could both feature at the Gabba on December 8. Credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images

“But hot on his heels is Josh Inglis who has just been terrific across all forms of the game in the last couple of years.” Carey, who was a member of GWS’s initial squad before returning to cricket a decade ago, has been South Australia’s regular wicket-keeper for the past seven seasons.

His leadership credentials were underlined in the past two seasons when he captained Australia A against the visiting Pakistan and India.

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