Haddin satisfied he's done all he can
Brad Haddin speaks with the assured air of a man who knows he has done all he can to regain his Test place for Australia when the team is named for the first Test against South Africa in Brisbane next month.
Following a winter of personal trauma, in which his daughter Mia was diagnosed with cancer, Haddin has benefited from a strong pre-season with New South Wales, and showed he was in good fettle with bat and gloves during two Sheffield Shield matches in September.
Pleased with how he kept wicket against Western Australia in Perth, Haddin followed up with a first innings century against Tasmania at Bankstown Oval, and effected a snappy legside stumping off the bowling of Trent Copeland in the second innings to underline his sharpness.
Now helming the Sydney Sixers' preparations for a tilt at the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa, Haddin said selection for the Brisbane Test - ahead of Matthew Wade who deputised ably for Haddin in the Caribbean earlier this year - would follow naturally provided he kept himself in decent touch with the gloves and the bat.
"Selection is the easy part, if you're performing well there's no topic of conversation about it, and if you're not performing the way you should then it's open for debate," Haddin said.
"From that point of view my mindset is the same as when I started playing, I've just got to make sure I'm in the best possible space I can be as a cricketer, and everything else takes care of itself.
"There's enough to worry about as a team without worrying about selection. If you're playing well as a team and winning games, more guys get pushed on to higher honours. I'm happy with where my game's at batting, keeping and just enjoying being back playing cricket."
Haddin's desire to be with his family at a time of adversity meant he departed suddenly from the West Indies tour in March, and since then the matter of his international availability has been an open question. He remained in touch with Australia's coach Mickey Arthur, captain Michael Clarke and the national selector John Inverarity, and took his place as a contracted player when the slimmed-down list was announced in June.
While Wade retained the limited overs gloves he had taken from Haddin on merit last summer, there remains the strong sense that Haddin, having shown his readiness for NSW, will retake the Test gloves in November.
"The pre-season has been good. With the way international cricket is shaped these days you don't often get a long pre-season, so it was good to get a pre-season under my belt and get my body where I needed it to," Haddin said. "But the bottom line is cricket's about performance and that's what you've got to do, you've got to make sure you do your pre-season, the reason you do it is to get out on the pitch and perform."
The Sixers' qualification for the Champions League, thanks to their victory in the inaugural BBL last summer, means a choppy preparation for several members of Australia's likely Test squad, including Haddin, Shane Watson and Pat Cummins. Haddin said the players would deal with it as best they can, and felt happy he at least had been able to play a pair of Shield games before departing for the event.
"That's international cricket these days, you chop and change formats and that's been happening for a long time now, so from that point of view it's not that big a change," Haddin said. "What's good about it actually is getting the volume from a cricket point of view, the Shield has given us a chance to get some cricket and some miles in our legs.
"I find preparing for tournaments like a T20 event, there's no better way to do it than actually get some longer form cricket, so your body gets used to playing cricket again. You can go through all your processes, get all your shapes right, without having to rush into the T20 format. Now it's just a bit of maintenance and making sure we get the squad together and everyone knows what we need to do once we get to South Africa, because with these tournaments it is very important to start well."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here