Australian Test captain and gloveman Tim Paine is set to undergo surgery on a pinched nerve his neck, casting doubt over his availability for the upcoming home Ashes series.
While Cricket Australia is hopeful the 36-year-old will be ready for the start of the summer, former Australian keeper Ian Healy believes they need a contingency plan.
Renowned as one of the best glovemen in cricket history, there’s not many more qualified to speak about wicketkeeping than Healy himself, and he laid out who he’d select if Paine isn’t available.
“I don’t think he (Paine) would have been right for that Afghanistan Test,” Healy said on SEN’s Pat and Heals.
“Any injury to ‘Painey’ will mean Cricket Australia will need to manipulate this right.
“Alex Carey is the number two at the moment in full format cricket – i.e. four or five day – he’s lost his spot in the shorter formats to Matthew Wade and Josh Inglis has been pumped in from WA.
“I would say Alex Carey, you can still get five years out of him, he’s 30 and has played little cricket.
“He’d be right to do a job for the Test team probably as good as ‘Painey’, he’s a great batsman.”
With Inglis being named in the upcoming T20 World Cup ahead of Carey, Healy believes he should be looked at as the long-term white ball option.
“Inglis is probably more devastating with the bat than all of them,” Healy said.
“If you’re going to play Inglis in the T20 World Cup, then you should wicket keep with him, don’t have him in there as just a batsman.
“Matthew Wade has to really get going with the bat if he wants to keep his spot in those short form games.”
With Inglis earmarked for T20 and One Day cricket, Healy picked a left field option as his second-choice red ball replacement behind Carey.
“Jimmy Peirson I reckon,” Healy said.
“He’s going great, the penny has dropped, his last two years have been outstanding in every form of cricket.
“Alex Carey and Jimmy Peirson are one and two, that’s my queue for me, and Josh Inglis should be playing T20s.”
Australia are scheduled to start the summer with a one-off Test match against Afghanistan in late November, although that appears unlikely to go ahead due to Cricket Australia threatening to pull out of the match due to the Taliban’s opposition to female sport.
The Ashes series then kicks off on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane.