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Alex Carey determined to keep focus in 'the biggest game I'll play' as Test debut locked in

The South Australia left-hander has been preferred ahead of Josh Inglis

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Alex Carey ducks underneath a short ball, Australia A v Indians, day-night tour match, third day, Sydney, December 13, 2020

Alex Carey will be behind the stumps in Brisbane  •  EPA

Alex Carey is determined not be overwhelmed by "the biggest game I'll play" after having his Test debut confirmed against England at the Gabba next week as Tim Paine's replacement.
In a move that had been expected for the last couple of days, Carey has been preferred ahead of Western Australia's Josh Inglis. He was told of the news by national selector George Bailey on Monday night but was only able to inform family and friends in the last 24 hours after also meeting with coach Justin Langer.
"The phone started to blow up a bit this morning which is nice. Definitely feeling the love," he said. "You hear the stories of the Ashes, I do understand the significance, but I've also got a job to do. I'll focus on what I've done in the past to get to this moment and not be too overwhelmed by that. It's the biggest game I'll play and I'll try to perform the best I can.
"This is also for my dad who has been my coach, mentor and mate, my mum, my wife Eloise, kids Louis and Clementine, my brother and sister and all of those who have supported me. I will be doing my absolute best to make them and our country proud."
Carey has made just 153 runs in eight Sheffield Shield innings this season - with single-figure scores in his last five outings - but did score a century in the Marsh Cup before heading to Brisbane.
He was due to be part of the Test squad for the postponed South Africa tour earlier this year and last season played for Australia A.
"Alex has been a regular member of the national side in white-ball cricket, particularly in the one-day game," Bailey said. "He is an excellent cricketer and a fine individual who will bring many great strengths into the team. He will be a very deserved holder of baggy green cap number 461."
Speaking yesterday about his relatively season, Carey said he remained confident in his form.
"I feel like I'm hitting the ball well and although the runs didn't come as I would have liked in the first part of the Sheffield Shield season I think consistently over the last couple of years I've been pretty solid," he told RSN radio.
He believes his extensive experience in limited-overs cricket - he has played 45 ODIs and 38 T20Is - will aid the transition especially when it comes to his work behind the stumps. He is also the current ODI vice-captain and took over the captaincy when Aaron Finch was injured in West Indies earlier this year so won't feel out of place offering advice to the new leadership pair of Pat Cummins and Steven Smith.
"Playing a number of games in the short format as vice-captain on the recent tour of West Indies I see it as another opportunity in that role but I'll also offer what I can," he said. "Playing alongside a lot of these guys in the past, even though it's a different format, I'll feel comfortable enough to say what I see.
"Pat Cummins is now the captain which is so exciting for Australia, a quality person, quality player and Steve Smith alongside him, the group is in really good hands with a lot of senior players. Whatever advice I can give those guys I'll definitely do that."
Carey's confirmation means there are two selection questions left to be answered before the first Test. Mitchell Starc is expected to retain his place but faces competition from the in-form Jhye Richardson while it is between Travis Head and Usman Khawaja for the No. 5 berth.
Australia's planned three-day intrasquad match has been cancelled due to the poor weather in Brisbane to be replaced by indoor training and potentially some centre-wicket sessions.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo