Alex Carey has been told he’s going to South Africa as a back-up keeper to Test captain Tim Paine.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns also basically declared the South Australian was next in line to take the gloves when Paine, who turned 36 in December, finishes.
But the fickle nature of Australia’s middle-order could present a batting opportunity and Carey, who is 29, knows that if former keeper Matthew Wade can make it as a batsman, he can too.
Carey, who has scored first class, one-day international and T20 centuries, isn’t getting ahead of himself, however, and is just excited to be “one step closer” to his Test dream.
“I take lots of pride in my batting. But my keeping is the first and foremost skill I am trying to nail for Australia,” he said on Wednesday after being named in the 19-man squad to tour South Africa in February.
“I love batting and hopefully my batting improves to a level that can be seen, as we saw with Matthew Wade over the last few seasons, he’s been so dominant with the bat, hopefully I improve my game so one day if I play Test cricket as a keeper that my batting is just as strong.
“Being a part of a series means the selectors have you in mind for something down the track. So I’ll be training really hard, hitting lost of balls, catching lots of balls, hopefully I score more runs in the next BBL game and the Shield game to come before we head off if I am a part of that.
“I will be putting my hand up with the gloves firstly but just trying to score as many runs as I can as well. That’s the way I see it.
“I’m really excited and even if I go across and I don’t play … I am a part of my first Test squad. Hopefully it means I am a step closer.”
Hohns made it clear how highly selectors thought of Carey and his place as next in line to Paine.
“He‘s played limited overs cricket for us, and we thought that was the ideal pathway for him to get to Test match level,” Hohns said.
“Alex, over the last 18 months, has got better and better as a player, so I think our thinking is reasonably clear there, without rubber stamping it, if I could put it that way.”
Like every player who has been asked, Carey said being on the plane to South Africa for a Test series was the easy choice over being part of the T20 squad in New Zealand despite the lure of back-to-back T20 World Cups over the next two years.
But Carey isn’t taking his eye off the white ball and knows his duties with the Adelaide Strikers, who qualified for the Big Bash finals despite a last-game loss, has to be first in his thoughts for now.
The Strikers will take on the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Friday night in an elimination final.
“It’s been a pretty crazy 36 hours,” Carey said.
“But it turns out we are on a plane to Brisbane, which is a great opportunity for us.
“The guys are relieved we are in it, and it’s about rocking up with a big smile on our face and playing out best cricket, and hopefully getting on a bit of a run.
“We would have to win four games to win the title, so it’s a huge game on Friday night.”