The Investec Ashes 2015 July 21, 2015

Nevill's lesson in temperament

Peter Nevill enjoyed an impressive Test debut with seven catches © AFP

If Peter Nevill's Ashes record of seven catches on debut were an indicator of his skills behind the stumps, it was his reaction to the one he was denied that showed the Test match temperament of a far more seasoned gloveman.

All of Australia's players and many around Lord's felt that the low edge offered by Jos Buttler on the third afternoon had whirred straight into Nevill's outstretched right glove, and that it was glove, not ball, that had scraped the turf as his momentum carried him downwards.

When the third umpire Chris Gaffaney's verdict of not out was relayed via the big screen, the Australians looked notably annoyed, and the captain Michael Clarke was seen to remonstrate with the on-field officials. Such moments can throw a fielding team off the scent, much as Brad Haddin's drop of Joe Root in Cardiff was followed by a critical half-hour of profligate bowling.

Nevill, however, was equanimity personified. As the huddle dispersed, he bore not a grimace or a snarl but the studious look of a man intent on ensuring that a moment's frustration would not linger. Sure enough, Buttler soon gave another chance, this time a thin edge from a Nathan Lyon off-break that ran across him down the slope. Had he been lost in a fog of what might have been, Nevill might easily have grassed it. Instead he hung onto the best of his snaffles for the match. It was a model display of focus.

"With those catches it felt it went straight in and those things just happen in such a short amount of time," Nevill said of the catch that wasn't. "It's a split second type of thing and I felt it go in, but unfortunately it's just taken a bit of grass.

"Especially when you're diving like that and the ball is coming as fast as it was it tends to if you catch it there, even though you've felt it go in, the pace tends to turn your hand a touch and you saw on the replay when you saw it brush a bit of grass but it was great to be able to get that wicket shortly after.

"I don't think anybody did worry about it for too long. I suppose guys are used to refocusing especially in cricket. Any sort of thing can happen on the field. You can play a bad shot, you can get hit for a boundary you cannot bowl the ball where you want to bowl it. All that matters is the next ball and re-focusing and everyone was able to do that quite well."

Nevill had thought his duties on this tour would extend only as far as a couple of tour matches, plenty of training and still more drinks duty - the lot of a reserve wicketkeeper. But family concerns for Haddin pitched him into the midst of the Ashes, and from behind the stumps he had an ideal vantage point to witness the destruction wrought by Mitchell Johnson and company.

"The nerves were fine leading up until the day before," Nevill said, "And then I think Michael Clarke asked me if I was nervous and I said I wasn't and then he goes 'well don't worry mate that'll come this afternoon'. He was right.

"Seeing Mitchell Johnson in full flight, wicketkeeping is a great place to be when he's got his tail up. I'm sure it's a lot more fun than batting against him. I think him and Starcy both at times bowled very quick and when Jono was bowling and really had his tail up, he was hitting the gloves very hard."

Having experienced the emotional highs of Lord's, Nevill will now turn out alongside Haddin in the tour match against Derbyshire. The pair are the friendliest of rivals, demonstrated by the fact that Haddin and his wife Karina had a bottle of champagne sent to Nevill's hotel room by way of congratulations.

"Brad has always been really supportive of me and even this week he's been great when you completely understand if his mind was elsewhere," Nevill said. "He and Karina sent a bottle of champagne to my room just to say congratulations on making your Test debut. He's just a genuinely lovely person."

And should Nevill find himself back in the drink runners' seats for the third Test at Edgbaston, the way he handled the Buttler catch may come in handy again. There will be no cussing over losing his place, just calm acceptance of events and a resolve to make the next chance count.

"I was picked on this tour as Brad's back up," he said. "I don't think anything has changed in that respect."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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