Australia to take two keepers to West Indies
Matthew Wade is expected to earn a Test call-up for the tour of the West Indies in April after the national selector John Inverarity expressed his desire to have two wicketkeepers in the squad. Wade has been named in Australia's side for the first three ODIs of the upcoming tri-series while Brad Haddin rests following a long period of cricket.
Strong performances from Wade in those matches could build pressure on Haddin, 34, who has had a difficult few months with the bat and behind the stumps. The coach Mickey Arthur wants Haddin to still be around for the 2013 Ashes but Wade, 24, is also viewed as a potential Test player and averages 40.16 in first-class cricket.
Last time the Australians played Tests in the West Indies they were forced to fly Luke Ronchi in mid-tour as a standby player for Haddin, who in his debut Test series broke a finger, but battled on and played all three Tests. Inverarity said a backup gloveman was desirable for this year's Caribbean trip, which included three Tests in April.
"The West Indies is a pretty difficult place to get to from Australia, so at this stage and it will depend on the budget, but we're keen to have two keepers there throughout the West Indies tour," Inverarity said. "If a keeper breaks his hand it would probably be five days to a week before a replacement could get organised, get there, recover from jetlag and be ready to play.
"If you've got one wicketkeeper in the West Indies and two days before a Test he breaks his hand and cannot keep, what do you do?"
With Tim Paine still out due to a long-term finger injury, Wade is the logical choice as the next in line behind Haddin, although Peter Nevill of New South Wales is also pushing his case. Wade might even open the batting in the ODIs in February, as no obvious opening partner for David Warner was named in the squad with Shane Watson still injured and Shaun Marsh dropped.
Inverarity said it remained to be seen whether Haddin would return for the later stages of the one-day series against Sri Lanka and India or whether he would be better off taking a longer break. He said it was up to Haddin, who will captain the Prime Minister's XI against Sri Lanka this Friday, whether he would play any Sheffield Shield cricket in the meantime, after a lean few months with the bat in Test cricket.
"That's up to Brad. He won't be playing the next Shield match because being a Canberra lad he's captaining the side for the Prime Minister's XI," Inverarity said. "The Shield match starts the next day. I think that's a good opportunity for Brad to be able to put his feet up for a bit. I think an essential part of preparation is refreshment and the opportunity to take it easy for a time and get mentally refreshed.
"It provides a terrific opportunity for Matthew Wade. We hope Matthew Wade keeps and bats brilliantly and then we have two keepers at the level, because you never know when a wicketkeeper is going to break down. We're all for developing Matthew Wade and Brad Haddin both together."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here