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March 14, 2012
Brad Haddin has the endorsement of the national selectors to keep wicket for Australia in the first Test against the West Indies in Barbados - but will have to perform immediately to stay there.
On the day the Test match touring party for the Caribbean was named, the selector and former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh said Haddin remained ahead of Matthew Wade in the order of preference for the Test side, though the younger man had claimed ownership of the ODI gloves.
However Marsh made it plain that Haddin would need to show himself immediately worthy of a spot in the side as a 'keeper batsman, otherwise Wade would be more than capable of stepping into the team. Haddin endured an indifferent home summer, though his glovework improved towards the latter part of the 4-0 series win over India. He is also valued as a leader within the team.
"At this point of time, obviously the first Test team will be selected after the one-dayers, a lot will depend on what happens in the one-dayers, no doubt," Marsh said in Adelaide. "But if I wanted to place a punt on it, I would have Haddin will play in the first Test match, as he should, and we'll wait and see what happens after that."
Assessing Haddin's summer, Marsh was not overly critical, and could empathise with an older wicketkeeper scoring fewer runs than he would have liked - Marsh's own batting returns dropped away drastically in the latter part of his career, a syndrome that also befell Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist.
"I didn't think he performed badly at all," Marsh said. "He didn't make as many runs as he would have liked and probably as we would have liked. I can recall him dropping one or two catches, which over a summer of six Test matches, that happens.
"He's probably not been at the peak of his form but he's a hell of a good cricketer. I have known Brad for a long, long time and he's just been a good cricketer and he's got very a good record for Australia. I just hope he performs really well in the West Indies because if he performs well, we're going to be a better side, that is the thing."
As for the emphasis on wicketkeepers scoring runs, Marsh said it was an undeniable fact that lower order runs, from bowlers as well as glovemen, were a marker for successful teams.
"It's a fact of life. Whether I'm happy with it or not doesn't matter. The fact is, you expect your keeper to make runs, in fact you expect everyone now to make runs I think," he said. "We made some handy runs in the back half [in] our summer and that is very important, it gives people confidence, it gives the team confidence when you see your bowlers making runs, when you see your wicketkeeper making runs."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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