Former Australian captain Tim Paine believes keeper Alex Carey is still carrying a mental burden from his controversial Ashes stumping after his opening World Cup failure put his position in the spotlight.
On the eve of the tournament, Australian coach Andrew McDonald backed Carey as his team’s first-choice gloveman despite middling batting returns in recent white-ball games, a 99 in South Africa his only score above 14 in his past eight outings.
Carey was dismissed for a second-ball duck in Australia’s opening loss to India in Chennai, one of spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s three wickets, on the back of scores of 11 and 28 in two warm-up matches and just 25 runs in two matches in the lead-in series against India.
The keeper was also involved in the dropped catch of matchwinner Virat Kohli, chasing the skied ball before pulling out and watching as Mitch Marsh spilt the ball.
With Josh Inglis in the World Cup squad, Carey’s place in the team is under scrutiny and Paine questioned whether he was still burdened by the fallout from his stumping of English batter Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s during the Ashes.
“He’s been struggling, there’s no doubt about that,” Paine said on Monday morning.
“It looks (like) a mindset thing. We know how dangerous Alex can be … I don’t think he’s looked the same since the Jonny Bairstow stumping.
“Whether that’s had an effect on him mentally because there was no doubt he copped an absolute barrel over there from everyone. I know it was a really difficult time for him and his family, he couldn’t go out for a coffee without copping abuse.
“I don’t know if it’s rattled him or if his confidence has dropped off since, but certainly his batting – barring one game in South Africa – he hasn’t looked the same … his body language and his intent, his intent to go out and take the game on from the start.”
Despite Carey having McDonald’s backing, Paine said selectors could be forced to make a call on Carey early in the tournament if Australia wanted to progress deep, with Inglis in form and waiting in the wings.
“It’ll be interesting, Josh Inglis is over there and he’s been playing really well from limited opportunities and he’s a really damaging player and good player of spin in his own right,” Paine told SEN.
“Hopefully, Alex can bounce back in the next game or two, but otherwise I think there might be a bit of pressure coming on.”
Australia has four days to recover before facing South Africa on October 12 at Lucknow.