Brad Haddin’s withdrawl from the second Ashes Test could spell the end of his career. Unlike Shane Watson, who was dropped after a prolonged career slump, Haddin was omitted for family reasons, with his daughter Mia batting cancer. It gives an opportunity to NSW keeper Peter Nevill. How Nevill performs will influence how long Haddin keeps going.
As brilliant as Haddin has been, his drop of Joe Root in the first innings at Cardiff gave England a crucial break. From 3/43, Root’s century propelled England to a match-winning total. It recalls Ian Healy’s crucial errors against the West Indies in 1999. Healy was dropped before the 1999/2000 Test series against Pakistan, denied a deserved Gabba farewell. Gilchrist came in, made that century in Hobart, and that was it.
Gilchrist revolutionised the role of a Test wicketkeeper. No longer could they keep well and average 30. Gilchrist’s aggressive batting added another dimension to the game, where aggressive runs could turn a game or put it out of reach (we all remember his assault on poor old Monty Panesar in Perth).
Debuting against the West Indies in 2009, Haddin – like Gilchrist – could turn games with his aggressive batting. Haddin was vital in Australia’s Ashes whitewash in 2013/14. He scored 493 runs (five fifties and a hundred), regularly rescuing his side from slow starts. When Mia was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Haddin dropped cricket for his family. With Matthew Wade and Tim Paine unable to cement a spot, Haddin came back.
So what’s the future for Haddin? If Peter Nevill has a strong Ashes series, will Haddin gracefully walk away and finish his career for NSW and the Sydney Sixers? Haddin is 38 in October, so perhaps the time is right. Even if Nevill struggles, a relatively easy summer against New Zealand and West Indies is a great time to find Haddin’s successor.
Unlike Watson, who many fans were glad to see the back of; no-one would begrudge Haddin a proper farewell once Mia is better. Time will tell.