Oz wicketkeepers battle for potential Ashes berth

March 2nd, 2009 - 2:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Mar.2 (ANI): Wicketkeepers in Australia are locked in a keen battle for being incumbent Brad Haddin’’s understudy during the Ashes in England.
A Fox Sports report says that the leading contenders are scoring heavily in a late-season rush to impress the selectors.
The keepers are jostling to fill Luke Ronchi’’s shoes after the West Australian was dropped by his state last month.
Ronchi’’s future looks grim with national selector Jamie Cox declaring the understudy job vacant. Cox urged the prospective applicants to go forth and score runs.
Matthew Wade, Chris Hartley and Graham Manou are doing just that. After a moderate season with the willow, Wade made 100 and 46 not out for his adopted Victoria against his home state of Tasmania on the weekend.
The haul hoisted his aggregate to a respectable 375 runs at 37.50, with one century and two 50s.
Wade, 21, has the most dismissals this season, 52 caught, no stumped, from his nine games.
Hartley, 26, had an extraordinary game in Queensland’’s rout of NSW at the Gabba on the weekend. His 10 catches edged him to within three scalps of Wade.
But his 121 in the Bulls” sole innings will be of greater aid to his Ashes cause, pushing his aggregate to 524 at 40.30, with two hundreds and three 50s.
The weekend heroics of Hartley and Wade have reined in Manou, who had seemingly booked a ticket for England with 124 against Victoria at the MCG and 108 against Queensland in Adelaide last month.
Manou could manage only a paltry 85 against WA on the weekend, the Redbacks skipper putting the team first by succumbing to a slog before a declaration.
Manou’’s rich vein of batting form - he also won successive man of the match trophies last month - has lifted his aggregate to 560 runs at 40 in 15 innings.
In an age when a wicketkeeper’’s glovework is often rated secondary to his run tally, Manou prefers to talk about his work behind the stumps rather than his stroke making in front of them. Cricket Australia is considering trimming the Ashes squad to as few as 13 tourists.
If this happens, the second keeper would be stationed at a County or League club and called into the party as required.
Manou said he had no plans to play in England, but would answer the call if tapped on the shoulder by the selectors.
Manou has always been regarded as a gloveman of rare class - Australia coach Tim Nielsen is a big fan - but has been held back by a batting average that has hovered near 20 since his first-class debut 10 years ago.
He was sent back to club cricket after a run of outs two seasons ago, but since his return has scored four centuries, with a best of 190 against Tasmania last season. Manou attributes the turnaround to the wisdom that comes with age, the responsibility of captaincy, and inner peace.
Tasmania’’s Tim Paine is another vying for an Ashes berth and is regarded as the best batsman of the leading contenders. But, with 375 runs at 28.84, he has had a lean run for a man who has played as a specialist batsman in past seasons. (ANI)

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