Australia in South Africa 2011-12 November 17, 2011

Healy says Haddin's keeping is "substandard"

Brad Haddin has been under fire for his batting on the tour of South Africa but now Ian Healy, the former Australia wicketkeeper, has delivered a stinging attack on Haddin's glovework. Healy said Haddin's work behind the stumps had been "substandard" in Sri Lanka and South Africa, although he said he believed Haddin was still the best man for Australia's wicketkeeping position.

The criticism will come as a surprise to Haddin, who earlier this week said he was very happy with his keeping and that it had "felt good for a while now". On the first day at the Wanderers, Haddin let through two sets of four byes, although both were difficult takes that required him to dive down the leg side off the fast bowling of Pat Cummins.

"I think his [Haddin's] performances have been substandard and not good enough in the last two tours," Healy told the Sydney Morning Herald. "He's definitely under pressure but I'm comfortable with the pressure he is under because I think he should be feeling that. I think he is the No.1 in the country to do the job but for some reason it's not coming out in his play.

"His footwork, sharpness and crispness are nowhere near what an Australia wicketkeeper's should be and that really surprised me. I was disappointed to see his form in Sri Lanka when he had [former wicketkeepers] Steve Rixon and Tim Nielsen both over there. His form looked very lethargic, and that happens because of one of two things: you're nervous or you're lazy. Only those closest to the arena would know which one it is."

Haddin did himself no favours with his strokeplay during the first Test in Cape Town, where in both innings he flashed irresponsibly outside off and edged, to gully on the first day and to the wicketkeeper on the second. His choice to back away and slash hard in the second innings when Australia were 18 for 5 was especially reckless from a senior player.

The Victoria wicketkeeper Matthew Wade brought up another century in a one-day game on Wednesday and has continued to push his case to take over from Haddin, while Tasmania's Tim Paine remains injured. However, Healy said there was no "automatic apparent" to replace Haddin, who he believed should remain in the Test side in the immediate future.

"He's got to work out immediately why his form with the gloves is down and find the remedy and get it going. I still think he's the No.1 in the country but we don't tolerate underperformance for very long. It's all about performance. If anyone in that team right now is underperforming they're under the gun. Australian cricket has to get back to a performance culture."

At training on Wednesday, Haddin spent plenty of time in the middle working on his glovework and chatting to John Inverarity, the new national selector. Inverarity's panel will soon need to choose a squad to take on New Zealand in the upcoming two-Test series, which begins on December 1.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo