England were 'petrified' of Johnson - Haddin
Brad Haddin has set himself the goal of returning to England for the 2015 Ashes after the joy of regaining the urn last summer in a series he believes showed England were "petrified" of Mitchell Johnson. Haddin said in November the 2013-14 series would be "my last crack at an Ashes campaign", but team and personal success over the summer has left him desiring more.
Although Haddin turns 37 in October, he says a busy off-season of training has ensured he is at peak fitness with a World Cup and Ashes tour looming over the coming year. And although there are several solid wicketkeeping performers at domestic level - he identified Sam Whiteman and Peter Nevill as two stand-outs - none have done enough yet to oust Haddin from the side.
As Australia completed their clean-sweep of England over the home summer, Haddin not only rescued the side with the bat in every first innings of the series, his glovework was generally efficient and his footwork nimble. A strong case could have been made for him being Player of the Series but that award went to Johnson, whose season Haddin viewed from prime position behind the stumps.
"Mitch's summer was something out of the box," Haddin told ABC Radio this week. "I think the one thing is, and Mitch realises it as well, he can't do his job if Rhino [Ryan Harris] or Peter [Siddle] or Lyno [Nathan Lyon] are not doing their job. They bowled really well together as a group.
"Mitch got a lot of the rewards for that because, to be perfectly honest, they were petrified of facing him. We can gloss over it ... but I think that was an exciting thing about last summer, the pace Mitch bowled. But the other guys did an enormous job to support the group. And our slippers caught well."
The series provided the first taste of Ashes success for Haddin and most of his team-mates, and many of the same men will be in England to defend the urn next year. Haddin hopes to be among them, although for the time being he is focusing on the more immediate contests in Zimbabwe and the UAE.
"I do enjoy playing against England, I won't lie about that. There's obviously a goal there," he said. "I know it's a big cliché ... but I'm just worried about the small steps in front of us at the moment. We've got a big series in the UAE, we've got India here, we've got a World Cup campaign.
"So it's important not to think too far ahead to thinking about those events and miss the excitement about playing now. I have got the World Cup and Ashes in my mind, but I'm preparing to play these other tournaments to keep moving Australian cricket in that direction we want to go."
To that end, Haddin has spent the winter working on his fitness with his friend Tom Carter, the former rugby union player. "I'm still in front of all the young guys on the training paddock," Haddin said. He is certainly still at the front of the wicketkeeping queue while others such as Matthew Wade, currently playing for Australia A as a specialist batsman, appear to have dropped back.
"I'm 36 and I'm still playing. There's obviously some candidates there," Haddin said. "I've seen young Sam Whiteman come on, who I think is going to be a pretty good talent, and Peter Nevill at New South Wales, I think is a very, very good gloveman as well.
"I'm all about picking the next best wicketkeeper. I think that's what Australia have traditionally done and that's what I encourage all the keepers behind me, to be the best wicketkeeper they can be."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale