Australia in West Indies 2012 March 16, 2012

Nevill and Haddin trade places again

Peter Nevill is used to having his cricket fortunes determined by the decisions of Brad Haddin.

As club team-mates at Eastern Suburbs in Sydney, or state team-mates for New South Wales, Haddin and Nevill have always had an understanding. If the senior man wants to keep wicket, he does, Nevill happy to step in should Haddin prefer a spell in the field. Most recently, in the Blues' last two Sheffield Shield games of the summer, Nevill was 12th man and then a batsman in deference to Haddin.

Now that Haddin has decided he must fly home to be with his family, Nevill is again stepping in more or less at the behest of his team-mate. When word of Haddin's departure filtered through from the West Indies, there was little doubt that Nevill would replace him, having been a rare speck of light in a grim season for the Blues. But it was with a sombre tone in his voice that Nevill spoke about his call-up, not knowing exactly what reasons - clearly serious - had forced Haddin home.

"I got the call from [Cricket Australia team performance manager] Pat Howard, it was a fairly brief conversation, but obviously it's a call that does get you feeling pretty good about your cricket, [since] the Australian cricket set-up wants you to be involved," Nevill said in Sydney. "So, in that sense, it was a nice call to receive, but in the same breath not knowing what's happened to Brad, it is also a little bit sombre as well.

"It's going to be a great learning opportunity for me, but obviously Brad's left for personal reasons - I'm not entirely sure what those are - and my thoughts are with Brad. He's been a great help to me in my time in NSW.

"I'm over there as back-up for Matthew [Wade]. So whether it's training, helping people mix Powerade or whatever it is, whatever capacity I can help in [I will do so], and learn as much as I can and improve my cricket as much as I can. It'll be a chance for me to pick some of the best Australian players' brains and do what I can to improve."

As a former Victorian who moved to NSW four years ago in search of a greater opportunity with the wicketkeeping gloves, Nevill is well acquainted with both Haddin and Wade. It was Wade whose performances pushed Nevill north, where Haddin's Australia duty gave him a greater chance of domestic exposure.

"I know Brad very well, he is a club-mate as well as a state team-mate, and he has done so much for me in a coaching capacity as well as in a team-mate capacity," Nevill said. "He's got a wealth of knowledge that he's been kind enough to share with me.

"The unfortunate realisation was that there was no opportunity there for me in Victoria at the time and it was a difficult decision [moving states], one I felt I had to make, and it has certainly paid off quite well. It was quite obvious in Victoria that I wasn't getting an opportunity, so I started exploring other possibilities. I knew that to play first-class cricket I as going to have to move states, and the rest is history."

That history now includes the 2011-12 season, which unfolded unhappily for NSW. Juggling a new captain, a new coach and two new Big Bash League teams, the state performed poorly everywhere but in Twenty20, where the Sydney Sixers lifted the trophy under the guidance of the former Blues coach Trevor Bayliss.

"It has been a difficult season. It is always pleasing when you perform personally, but there's a burning desire among all the guys to have a much better season next year and help us get back to the top of the table," Nevill said.

Key to Nevill's contribution for the Blues has been his batting, which reaped 570 runs at 51.81 in nine Shield matches this summer. However Nevill's keeping has also impressed, with his smooth footwork and lightness of touch with the gloves, and he is adamant in describing himself as a wicketkeeper first, a batsman second.

"First and foremost I'm a wicketkeeper and I take a lot of pride in my wicketkeeping," Nevill said. "But the way cricket's evolved over the past however many years is that batting is a vital component of what you do, so I've had to work very hard to get my batting up to standard."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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