“It’s a great honour to be vice-captain, not only of Australia, but in an Ashes campaign. There is no more exciting cricket that you play. You can play all the fancy tournaments around the world but this is it, the whole feeling around an Ashes campaign and everything that comes with it, this is why you want to play.” – Brad Haddin on being a leader in the Australian side that will contest Ashes 2013.
It’s been an astonishing journey for Brad Haddin in international cricket. The 35-year-old would have perhaps been a great of the game by now had he not suffered the misfortune of being the compatriot and contemporary of Adam Gilchrist. He worked all those years in Australian domestic cricket only to be the second best wicket-keeper-batsman in Australia till the day Adam Gilchrist decided to call it a day. Haddin was deservedly drafted into the team the team that played against the West Indies in 2008 as his replacement and he looked the part despite the fact that he played most part of the match with a broken finger.
Circumstances forced Haddin to withdraw from the series against West Indies in April 2012 as his young daughter was not well. Matthew Wade took the chance he got with both his hands and his batting performances ensured that Haddin remained on the margin for almost an year yet again.
Haddin, however, never lost hope. “I never thought it was finished for me. The only worry was whether circumstances would allow me to get back. But I never doubted I could return and keep challenging myself to be a better cricketer, and if I had I would have walked away from the game.”
Brad Haddin was recalled to the Australian side when they were in dire need of experience on the tour to India. His selection ahead of this Ashes series seems to have many positives as he can wear many hats in the game. His glove-work, batting and leadership will all be called upon in this most challenging series.
Matthew Wade’s batting exploits have become a lot more inconsistent and it is difficult to see him succeed on current form in the hostile conditions of England. Haddin, on the other hand, has the experience of playing two Ashes competitions and has done fairly well. He has a batting average of 45 in the nine matches that he has played in the Ashes.
Brad Haddin scored a ton at Cardiff in the opening test of the 2009 Ashes and helped Australia draw that match. He continued to make valuable contributions in that series but could not help his team cross the line as Australia slumped to a defeat. Haddin was even better in 2010-11 and repeated the feat of scoring a ton at the opening test match at the Gabba. He scored 136 runs in that game and finished with 360 runs in that series. He will be hoping to make a hat-trick of that particular achievement at Nottingham come Wednesday when the first test begins.
His glove-work has never been a cause of worry for Australia and he was perhaps the greater wicket-keeper in comparison to Adam Gilchrist. He will be tested in the English condition where the ball swerves a lot but his previous experiences will hold him in good stead. He will have to make sure that he hangs on to the dismissals created by the likes of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle.
The other important role that Haddin will play for this side is that of a leader. He is the vice-captain of the side and with Michael Clarke being injury prone, he might have to take on the reins at some stage. Even if that calamity does not befall the Australian side, the inexperience of the side means that Haddin will have a considerable role to play.
While most of the media is trying to mount pressure by making a comparison to the Australian sides of the past, Haddin has made all the rights sounds by talking about living in the present and investing his faith in the current bunch of players.
He said, “I think it’s important to live in the moment. We’ve got a Test series starting in two days. We can sit and talk about what’s happened before and some great games in Australian cricket and English cricket. It’s about us now, starting in a couple of days’ time – another exciting Test series.”
“It’s a new series. The hurt from the last two series will never go away and nor should it. But it’s a new campaign. New dreams are made, new experiences are about to be had. It’s important we move forward and enjoy this for what it is.”
Haddin’s honesty and old-school approach is a good sign for Australian cricket as he will energize the side with his aggressive style of playing the game as well as nurture it with his wisdom that he has gathered as the captain of New South Wales.