Ashes 2015: Australia forced to call on novice Peter Nevill as Brad Haddin pulls out of Test

However, all-rounder Mitchell Starc has been passed fit for Lord's clash

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The Independent Online

Brad Haddin, Australia’s veteran wicketkeeper, has withdrawn from the Second Test of the Ashes series for family reasons. After a day of speculation, his self-imposed absence was confirmed by the team management and he will be replaced by Peter Nevill, the reserve who will be making his debut.

There were no details of the precise reasons for Haddin’s absence and Cricket Australia said there would be no further comment. Haddin, however, will be remaining with the squad, which suggests that he does not feel the need to dash home.

While everyone will wish Haddin well, it is the sort of unforeseen setback that often seems to afflict teams, especially those on tour, who are up against it. Things keep going wrong. Australia are 1-0 down in the Ashes series  after suffering an unexpected 169-run defeat in Cardiff on Saturday and their team selection for the second Investec Test at Lord’s on Thursday was already a delicate affair.

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Peter Nevill will be making his Test debut at the age of 29 when the series resumes at Lord’s (Getty)

With Haddin out and without any indication of when he may return, it is unlikely that the tourists’ selectors will dare make other changes. The position of the all-rounder, Shane Watson, was in some doubt, but the alternative is Mitchell Marsh, who has played only four previous Tests without any marked success.

A side featuring Marsh at six in the order and Nevill at seven would be dangerously inexperienced with England suddenly so confident. The good news for Australia was that Mitchell Starc, who had a sore ankle which hindered his bowling in Cardiff has been passed fit.

Haddin will understand that if Nevill does well, his own career, at the age of 37, could finally be over. Two years ago, Haddin’s daughter, Mia, then 17 months old, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. He flew home from a tour of the West Indies and put his cricket career on hold. Only when Mia was on the road to recovery did he think of donning his gloves again.

 

Widely respected by most of his team-mates, Haddin is a contentious figure. Always a highly competitive wicketkeeper, he seemed to add an extra edge during this year’s World Cup final when Australia defeated New Zealand. The aggressive manner in which Haddin behaved towards to some of the opposition when they were dismissed was unsavoury and puerile.

It is to be hoped that Haddin’s unfortunate withdrawal may have a sobering effect on the teams. The match in Cardiff was conducted in splendid spirit almost throughout, but there have been veiled suggestions that might change.

Jimmy Anderson, England’s senior bowler, criticised the Australians for not accepting the invitation to have a drink in the victors’ dressing room, conveniently overlooking the fact that drinks are normally shared after the series, not during a campaign – with one infamous exception.

Following England’s shattering defeat at Adelaide in 2006 after scoring 551 in their first innings, their captain, Andrew Flintoff, visited Australia’s changing room for a consolation drink and was virtually the last to leave.

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