Australia in West Indies 2012

Nevill and Haddin trade places again

Daniel Brettig

March 16, 2012

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Brad Haddin reacts after dropping Gautam Gambhir, Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2012
Peter Nevill: "Brad Haddin has done so much for me in a coaching capacity as well as in a team-mate capacity." © Getty Images
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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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Posted by Meety on (March 18, 2012, 23:49 GMT)

@Gordo85 - I've banged on a bit about Hartley as being worthy of a shot at Test cricket, I think his batting is no worse than Paines, however the NSW bias thing you mentioned really doesn't stack up well if you look at career stats, + the fact Neville is from Victoria.

Posted by gogoldengreens on (March 18, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

Hartley should have been given a gig he has performed well over a long period of time...

Posted by RandyOZ on (March 17, 2012, 7:18 GMT)

Probably the second best keeper in the world right now behind Wade.

Posted by Gordo85 on (March 17, 2012, 5:35 GMT)

It is good to see Chris Hartley making some runs. He has had abit of a lean run of late but he is finding form right about now only a short time after Cricket Australia picked someone else to replace Haddin. Lets hope Hartley isn't the new Darren Berry because that would be a really big shame. For a long time now I have heard a number of times how he is the best Keeper behind the stumps. It is funny how people in the past were saying you can't have two rookie keepers in the West Indies but now it looks like that has happend and at the time I was in favour of picking two new so called Keepers for the West Indies. To me though it is just a shame one New South Wales player goes back home only to be replaced by another one in the squad however I am sure he will be there only as a back up so thats not so bad.

Posted by Wefinishthis on (March 17, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

Excellent, Wade and Nevill are the two best keeper/batsmen in Australia and should be the no.1 and no.2 choices. Forget Haddin and Paine.

Posted by daSaj on (March 16, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

@reinzied. Nevill is the 12th highest scorer in the Sheffield Shield this season with 570 runs @ 51.81 and is the highest ranked regular wicketkeeper there, even ahead of Wade. Saying that Copeland is an average test player is very harsh considering that he has only played 3 matches; all in Sri Lanka. Also, where did you get 70% from?

Posted by wrighty1012 on (March 16, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

@rienzied name one other australian keeper at the moment who could do a better job in windies. There isnt one

Posted by GMFoley on (March 16, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

I'm pretty sure that Nevill had the best stats of all wicketkeepers this season across both keeping and batting. He's earnt the right to be fourth in line behind Haddin, Paine and Wade Will need to keep an eye on Triffit and hopefully Carters though.

Posted by Meety on (March 16, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

@rienzied - cry me a river, apart from the fact that Lehman & Hofge were at their peak in another era, the fact of the matter is ALL the players you mentioned - performed exceptionally well in Domestic cricket before being selected. Name a better keeper batsmen to replace Haddin! The only one that could/should of gone is unavailable!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

@rienzied As much as it does seem a 'baggy blue' turns into a 'baggy green', in this case Nevill is the logic choice and a reward for a fantastic summer. Possibly the only other candidate would have been Chris Hartley, but he turns 30 this year and its good to give a younger guy, albeit only 3 years the chance to be right around the mix and being the backup keeper. Its a good sort of generation at the moment with Wade, Nevill, Paine when he returns and also Tom Triffit.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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