Alex Carey is the man Australian cricket hasn’t asked for – but certainly needs.
Before Tim Paine’s abrupt departure from international cricket, another man, Josh Inglis, was making a late run to replace Australia’s Test captain at the track.
Already in the World Cup-winning T20 squad, Inglis had big names in his corner, including Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne.
However, Paine’s decision to step down on the eve of the Ashes saw Australia coaches give Carey – the then-experienced 30-year-old who played at the 2019 ODI World Cup – the first chance.
After a flawless opener in Brisbane, Carey struggled through the rest of the Ashes as he made no reasonable contribution with the bat.
More importantly, the catches dwindled while others had to navigate between him and David Warner at the first slip.
A year later, having cemented his reputation – first in Pakistan and then Sri Lanka – Carey is establishing himself as a crucial figure in Australian cricket in 2023.
His elegant and composed centenary on the third day was pure beauty.
He drove gracefully and timed the ball well from the start when he came out at bat on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday he drove the ball to the square and then to the ground, running for half a century with effortless shots through the offside.
Keshav Maharaj came to Australia with a reputation as a competent wicket-taker and spinner.
But after being treated with contempt by David Warner, Carey never seemed to be out of the way with his left arm as he thrust and swept past the Maharaj with ease.
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Later, the South African rapids tried to ruffle him by falling short.
Eventually it worked, but not before he became the second wicket-keeper in history, after the late Rodney Marsh, to reach triple figures in a Test at the MCG.
“Great scenes for Alex Carey,” former Australia goalkeeper Adam Gilchrist said in a comment for Fox Cricket.
“He becomes only the second wicket-keeper in Test history to conjure up a century of the Test match at a Boxing Day Test.
“He joins a great, a great deceased. This test match is all about Shane Warne, and rightly so, but there’s one man watching above.
“Rodney William Marsh, the only other wicket-keeper, not only for Australia but in the history of Test cricket, to score a Test match century [at the MCG]. What company to keep.
Carey looked comfortable in the middle.
Relaxed, easy on the eyes and technically strong, Carey looked like a test cricketer. Not bad for a guy who grew up wanting to play in the AFL and only left Greater Western Sydney on the advice of then manager and soccer icon Kevin Sheedy.
“Seven bats, could beat three with this technique,” Kerry O’Keeffe said on fox cricketas the southpaw got on a short ball and held on to the limit to move into the 90s.
“How clinical was it? Short, seated, weight shift in place, control it beautifully into the ground, split the gap. Worth a hundred.
A score of 8/575 suggests the MCG wicket was a good wicket, but beyond the stats there was a solid quartet of fast bowlers at Dean Elgar’s disposal.
Another great Australian, Mark Waugh, said his century should not be underestimated.
“Just from a pure batting standpoint, it’s been an elite inning,” Waugh said on fox cricket.
“Just the stroke game, the stroke game, the technique, and when you’re sitting around for a long time, it’s not easy to get into No 7.
“Six and seven are tough batting positions. You often get the second new ball. He weathered this storm. He crossed it.
Carey’s form is significant because with a four-Test series against India on the horizon, his contributions will be significant.
A good sweeper, Carey plays better than most Australian batters.
Although Australia is unlikely to be entertained playing five specialist bowlers in India, his batting ability will give Cummins’ men options and flexibility in order.
Flash back to 2001 and Adam Gilchrist scored a jaw-dropping century against India in Mumbai to help Australia take the series lead.
Gilchrist struggled for the remainder of the series, but his contributions three years later, as captain in Ricky Ponting’s absence, proved crucial as Australia conquered the ‘final frontier’.
“Junior [Waugh]I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts on Alex Carey’s ability to play No. 6 in the longer term or, if the situation calls for it, for a one-off test or perhaps a series,” a said Gilchrist.
“India coming, that might be an option.
“It’s all about balance and how much value it’s going to add with an extra pitcher and the look of the cue. I think he’s quite skilled and has a modern game and the skills to go with it. to take that top-six position.
By hitting triple figures, Carey did what Paine couldn’t by scoring a Test Century.
The fact that the monkey is no longer on his back can only bode well for Australia heading into a crucial and defining year for his career.
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