A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Brad Haddin expected to play during back-to-back Ashes series

A bright light has finally broken through Haddin’s year of dark skies

Australia veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin is expected to fill the void left behind after the retirement of batting duo Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey when the national team start preparing for their back-to-back Ashes series against arch-rivals England.

Haddin, who last represented Australia in January 2012 against India, has all but confirmed his place on the Test squad after coach Mickey Arthur stated that he was impressed by the performances the veteran keeper had been putting up in the current Sheffield Shield season.

While it might be a rather nasty observation, Haddin’s return to the Test squad has been a result of Australia losing two of the best players to have ever represented them.

However, Haddin will come into the team as the number two gloveman, as his successor Matthew Wade has been doing an excellent job, despite having some slip-ups in the past.

But, Haddin noted that he had no problems with being the substitute keeper and instead would look to be a batting mentor for the youngsters in the side.

Arthur stated that while Australia may not be taking two wicketkeepers to India, they will definitely be doing so during their back-to-back Ashes series against England.

“We’ve probably looked at a full group of 20, 21 players we need to cut down to take to India,” Arthur said. “Obviously there are two keepers in the 20, 21 at the moment – but whether we take two keepers I’m not sure. I do know we’ll be taking two keepers to the Ashes in England though.

“So really that’s important we know who our second keeper is and he’s comfortable that he knows exactly where he stands as well. At the moment the second keeper is definitely Brad Haddin.”

Haddin was supposed to be part of the Australian side when they toured the Caribbean in April last year, but had to rush home at the very last moment due to his daughter Mia having been diagnosed with cancer.

The veteran keeper has won a lot of praise and respect amongst numerous cricketers, both current and past, since he has been able to work his way back to the international level by dedicating himself to New South Wales, while also having the time to spend many nights beside his daughter in the hospital as well.

“In all honesty cricket was not anywhere in my thoughts,” Haddin had said. “When something like that happens your life is put on hold. I have been lucky that things have gone in the right direction enough to allow me to be back playing cricket. But in all honestly I wasn’t thinking about cricket at all. I would not be playing cricket now if it affected my family. I am no different to anyone. Your family comes first.”

Haddin also noted that he will give captain Michael Clarke all the support he needs after having lost two of his most trusted and influential right-hand men.

“I have played enough cricket now to offer a little bit in that area,” Haddin said. “It is an exciting team for the first game.

“You remember back to when you first started how exciting it was to have guys around giving you those little tips. I was lucky to have Haydos [Matthew Hayden] barking at me and pushing me in the right direction. I have been lucky enough to have a couple of tours to England, one as the No. 1 keeper and one behind Adam Gilchrist. From that point of view I would be ready to go in whatever capacity they want.”

However, while Haddin may be jumping for joy that he has finally earned his recall, the question about forgotten wicketkeeper Tim Paine has been slowly creeping up again as the once regarded ‘golden boy’ of Australia cricket has fully recovered from a devastating finger injury and has been turning heads with his performances in the Sheffield Shield as well.

“Tim’s been knocking on the door,” Arthur said. “Tim’s performances are getting better for Tasmania and the Hurricanes. We still feel right now that at this particular moment though that Brad Haddin is the second keeper to Matthew Wade in all forms. Painey just needs to keep working, keep working hard, keep knocking the door down and he’ll certainly put his name up in lights as well.”

Haddin must also deal with batsman Usman Khawaja, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and Twenty20 captain George Bailey, all of whom are looking to cement the same spot on the Test roster as well.

“There’s massive opportunity for somebody to put their hand up and really tell us they’re around,” Arthur said. “Someone who can really win us games and really make his mark, because losing Ponting and Hussey in the last four Test matches, we’ve only lost 250 Test caps … so if I was a young batsman in Australia at the moment it’s a massively exciting time.

“Some really good performances can give you a gig in all forms. So we are really hoping that somebody puts their hand up. I’m really excited about working with this younger group of batsmen, it really excites me and I’m sure somebody is going to stand up and make a real name for themselves.”

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