Carey makes 101 off 93 for South Australia, but Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald does not know yet who will play the first Test against England
But in the 48 hours since the Australia selectors, George Bailey, Justin Langer and Tony Dodemaide, have been mulling over the choice of Carey and Inglis to make their debut in Brisbane with McDonald none the wiser as to which way they are leaning.
“I think it’s really still up in the air,” McDonald said. “I think if it was clear then there would have been an announcement, so I’m sure that the selectors will be taking all the information in the last game today, I think, domestically before we switch out our focus into the Test match.
“We’ve got plenty of time before the first Test match, but I’m sure once they’re clear that there’ll be an announcement because we’ve got an Australia game and obviously Australia A game as well. So the preparation will split into sort of two camps from [December 5] onwards, so that’ll be something that will become clearer I would say over the next few days for us as coaches and then communicated externally.”
“It’s white-ball cricket, but any form is good form as we like to say,” McDonald said. “Obviously we’ve got Josh Inglis in camp with us at the moment, so he starved for match opportunities. Alex Carey was named in Australia A squad as a keeper as well. So we’ve got some options.
“And that’s the beauty of it, it’s always better to have options than no options. So look forward to whichever way that goes and the start of someone’s career.”
Carey does have a distinct advantage over Inglis having already played three years of international cricket, including in the cauldron of a World Cup in 2019. He has captained Australia in ODI cricket as recently as this year and has led Australia A twice in first-class matches. He had long been seen as the natural successor to Paine both as a wicketkeeper but also as a leader.
Carey’s toughness and temperament has long been his great strength and he bats No. 5 in South Australia meaning he is exposed to tougher batting conditions than Inglis is batting at No. 7 in a very strong Western Australia team.
While both men have solid first-class records with the bat, the debate among the selectors appears to be around their glovework with a clear preference to pick the best gloveman for the role, as was proven by Paine’s four years in the team having been recalled from near obscurity in 2017.
“Really positive return clearly on the back of some shoulder issues last year, so it’s great to see him up and running,” McDonald said. “George Bailey, has been casting a keen eye along with Tony Dodemaide following that form line very, very closely.
“There’s no doubt that he’ll be putting some pressure on across the summer, whether that’s the first Test match, whether that’s later on in the summer, but, you know, there’s three very handy ball is in front of him at the moment.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo