Haddin 'drained' by Indian summer
Australia's wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has admitted he is feeling drained by a summer in which his name has seldom been far away from debate over the composition of the national team.
Haddin has endured a personally horrid series against India, struggling for runs while also missing chances, and his summer lurched into tragicomic territory on Wednesday with a second-ball duck and a dropped catch for the Sydney Sixers in the Twenty20 Big Bash League. It followed another zero with the bat in the third Test in Perth.
He said he had felt down on his usual energy and pep when preparing to captain the Sixers, an indication of the effort expended over the Test summer with one match still remaining against India, at the Adelaide Oval from Tuesday.
"I felt mentally and physically drained," Haddin told Sky Sports Radio. "It didn't feel right during the warm-up. How I felt, I just thought, 'Oh no, this doesn't look good'. I thought in Perth things were going well. I spent a lot of time catching leading into Perth, probably hit too many balls. You've just got to find that right balance."
Despite considerable public and media pressure on Haddin, he has retained the faith of the national selectors, who have not only kept him in the team but named him vice-captain to Michael Clarke in place of the injured Shane Watson, and also chosen him to captain the Prime Minister's XI against the Sri Lankan tourists on February 3. As a gutsy, aggressive former captain of New South Wales, Haddin's contribution to the dressing room is considered significant.
Another significant factor in Haddin's selection across the summer is the serious finger trouble afflicting his heir apparent Tim Paine, who played four Test matches in 2010 when the senior man was injured. Paine is recovering after another round of surgery on a badly fractured index finger, and his return to the game remains clouded.
Matthew Wade, the Victorian gloveman, has performed strongly this summer and has won a place as Australia's Twenty20 keeper, but it appears the injured Paine is still the preferred candidate to replace Haddin at Test level. Haddin has brushed off the effect of speculation about his place, saying he always felt he was in a fight for his spot irrespective of how he was performing.
"What people underestimate is the pressures you're under whether you're doing well or not," he said. "It's a big effort to get yourself up for a four-Test series and I think [evidence of the drain of that effort] was the case last night."
The fast bowler Peter Siddle is an Australia team-mate of Haddin and a Victorian compatriot of Wade, and said he was still very much behind the Test incumbent.
"I've played all my Test cricket with Brad and he's been amazing contributor," Siddle said. "He's had some tough times at the moment but he's a great player. He's obviously got a good first-class record which shows he can perform at the big times.
"I'm definitely backing him ... I think Adelaide will be a good wicket for him to bat on and hopefully we can get a few more nicks through to him to give him some support."
As for Wade, Siddle described the 24-year-old as a most impressive character and cricketer.
"Being a Victorian he's kept behind the stumps a lot of times for me. He's a great player and he's shown in the last couple of years how much he's matured," Siddle said. "He's a great leader for the team and his performances with the bat and the gloves have been outstanding.
"When Brad's time is up, whether that's in a couple of weeks or hopefully I'll get to play a few more years with him, Matthew is definitely a talented player."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here