Carey quietly begins building Test case

Second first-class hundred for Carey

After a breakout 12 months, Alex Carey is out to prove he’s more than just a white-ball specialist.

Carey brought up his second first-class century with an unbeaten 110 for South Australia in their JLT Sheffield Shield clash with NSW at the SCG on Saturday.

Establishing himself in long-form cricket remains the next frontier for the former GWS Giants squad member after cementing his spot in the Australian one-day and Twenty20 sides this year.

Carey put himself on the radar of Australian selectors during the 2017-18 Big Bash League season when he stroked 443 runs – the second-most of the season behind D’Arcy Short – at an average of 49.22.

He made his ODI debut in January and his first Twenty20 international appearance a month later.

Tim Paine is established as Australia’s Test skipper and ‘keeper but at 34 it remains to be seen how many years he has left in him.

“Every time I come back and play first-class cricket I want to do well,” Carey said. “I want to play both well with the red ball and the white ball. Whatever ball it is, runs count.

“If I’m away playing ODIs, then that’s the focus. If I’m back here then it’s trying to do well for South Australia.

“I’m still learning my game. I’ve only played (29 first-class games) now. I want to keep getting better now. Today it was quite controlled and in the past I’d probably get ahead of myself and play too many shots too early.”

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To date, Carey’s Sheffield Shield returns have been modest and he averages 26.95 in first-class cricket.

In 2016-17 he hit 594 runs at an average of 33.00 while also taking 59 dismissals for the season, a record for the competition. Last summer, he managed 455 runs at 35.00.

Test legend Ian Healy, who picked up a lot of the skills and lessons that made him one of the all-time great wicketkeepers while plying his trade on the international scene, insists Carey is more advanced as a ‘keeper in the early stages of his own Australian career.

“Alex Carey hasn’t got as much learning as me to do,” Healy said last month. “He’s a really good performer, and most teams he’s been part of have had success. That’s the type we want in there.

“He’s just working his way up into the one-dayers now, and at some stage, he might take Tim Paine’s (Test) job – in two or three years.”

He was absent from the Redbacks’ first four games of 2018-19 and will miss a good chunk of the second half of the Shield season due to Australian commitments.

“You’ve got to get used to it playing white-ball cricket and then coming back into red-ball cricket, just adapting to batting for a long time,” Carey said.”

“With the white-ball you play on quite flat wickets and the ball’s not doing much and then (in the Shield you might be) playing a spinner and it reserves, and (it’s about) just being really flexible.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a really good day to just grind it out.”