Graham Manou is putting off that chat with the Australia selectors over what might happen next. He knows the answer: everything depends on Brad Haddin's fingers and fitness.

Manou was the last-minute replacement for Haddin in the third Ashes Test, had the best five days of his playing life, but ended the match with what would eventually be diagnosed as a fractured hand after being hit by Stuart Broad. In the next game Haddin came back and will have the spot as long as his bones stop breaking, which is a shame for Manou, who is by far the better keeper.

Tasmania's Tim Paine went over to England for the one-day series and has fitted in with bat and gloves ever since, leaving Manou in a tricky place. Being the understudy is always a worrying position, but Manou can avoid thinking about his international future by concentrating on the plight of South Australia, the unpredictable outfit he captains.

"It's nice to be home amongst family and friends, and to get back in the swing of things with the Redbacks," he said. "An experience like the Test has certainly allowed my eyes to be opened even wider. More so to the realms of possibility of what our squad can achieve, not necessarily just this year, but over the next four years. This group certainly has the potential over the next little while to play some exciting and good cricket and hopefully in that next bracket of four years there's a Shield victory in there somewhere."

The aim is as big as Manou hoping for a full series under the baggy green for South Australia haven't reached a final since they won in 1995-96. One thing they have had during the off-season is a stable playing roster and the only major changes are the exit of Mike Deare, the SACA's chief executive, and the batting coach Kim Harris, who was a strong ally for the top seven.

"It certainly is nice," Manou said of the lack of movement. "That's what gives the group a bit of comfort in some ways. We always talk about playing our best cricket when we're in a calm state, you certainly feel more in control of what you're able to do individually and collectively."

Even in England Manou was thinking about what the squad needed to do when he came back. Only in the first week of October did he trust his hand enough to go on to the field, playing some practice games in Queensland. He knows that if the team has a strong season it will also help his claims.

The misdiagnosis after the Test at Birmingham allowed him to stay with the squad for the entire tour, although he was unavailable for the final game when the fracture was finally revealed. "There obviously was always a break there," he said. "It wasn't until we went to Canterbury for the tour game [before the final Test] and I put my hand through a jumper and spread my fingers apart and it was quite painful. So then I had some scans and they eventually confirmed that there was a break in there. I was just wondering whether the English were trying to play some funny buggers with me."

He smiles as he says it, but after a Test taste he is desperate for more action, even though the road is going to be blocked by Haddin. Jamie Cox is the state's high performance manager and doubles as a national selector. Manou will chat with him at some stage, but doesn't want the answer to diminish his Ashes experience.

"I haven't really broached the subject, to be honest," he said. "Just the emotion of the series as a group, and myself, being the first time I was away with the Australian guys, I just wanted to get away and let all that sink in.

"It's probably a subject I might get to sit down with Coxy or one of the selectors before the start of the season and just ask how I should continue to develop my cricket. To do that would be nice, but it's still important that I continue to play the same role that I have over the past couple of years anyway."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo