John Townsend: Brad Haddin back in his pomp with bat and gloves
The Aussie Angle: Wicketkeeper's blinding catch shows sticky start to series is behind him
Sunday 04 August 2013
It was a candid Brad Haddin who brooked no sentiment or excuses in his assessment of his performance at Lord's. The Australian veteran struggled in the Second Test.
He made seven and seven and exuded little confidence with the gloves at the ground where he had a nightmare match in 2009.
But the worst of his game came from what he didn't do. Haddin twice started to move then pulled out of catching attempts as edges flew between him and first slip.The first innings flinch didn't hurt because James Anderson was dismissed next ball. But the Joe Root twitch in the second innings proved fatal. Root was on eight at the time and advanced to 180 as he swept the game beyond Australia's reach.
Haddin blamed himself for the Lord's blunders and was adamant that accountability for his actions required him to improve significantly at Old Trafford.
"I thought they were both going straight to first slip but I will take responsibility for them," Haddin said. "They were my fault. They were obviously my fault."
Haddin is in his second life as a Test cricketer. He left the game last year to deal with his baby daughter's illness but has returned with a clear sense of his destiny and focused on regaining the Ashes.
He took Australia within a handful of blows of winning the first Test and saw little value in quibbling over spilt milk in the second. And it was evident from his display with bat and gloves that it was a considerably more intense player who took the field in the third Test.
His unbeaten 66 in the first innings was vintage Haddin from a decade ago. Featuring the breathless cascade of drives, he put his foot down just when Australia needed to accelerate.
But his display behind the stumps was even more impressive. The legside snare of Tim Bresnan was sound but had nothing on the one-hander to dismiss Alastair Cook that was the equal of any of Haddin's 184 Test scalps.
There is a photograph in the WACA Ground members' bar of Rod Marsh diving at full-length to capture Clive Lloyd in the 1960s. The Haddin catch was no less athletic and far more significant. It ended an innings that was starting to gain great consequence.
Haddin's only blemish was in failing to convince his captain to review the caught behind appeal that could have seen Ian Bell dismissed without scoring. Bell appeared to feather a catch as he poked at Mitchell Starc but Haddin was the only Australian to appeal with any vigour.
Clarke's reluctance to examine the incident was understandable. Haddin is from the wicket-keeping school which believes that virtually every not out decision is worth further scrutiny, a policy that has spread disappointment and cost reviews often enough for his advice to be discounted.
The reality, too, was that the slight noise as the ball passed Bell's bat may not have been enough evidence to overturn Marais Erasmus's decision.
It was a curiosity, then, that Haddin had little interest in supporting Shane Watson's lbw appeal against Kevin Pietersen when the batsman was on 62. Hawkeye predicted that the ball would have hit leg stump but Pietersen had taken a large stride and it was understandable that the fieldsmen harboured little optimism about the appeal.
Haddin is Australia's fifth most successful gloveman, needing only four more dismissals to pass Wally Grout. The landmark of 200 is looming too, and given that Australia's second keeper Matthew Wade is not pressing as hard as he was two years ago, it is likely that Haddin will be given the chance to reach the milestone by starting the return Ashes series.
"I know I've got more games behind me than in front of me," Haddin said, "but if my job gets taken away I'm happy I've done everything possible to keep it."
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