Alex Carey packs away reverse-sweep, keeps Australia on course

Alex Carey looks to pull
June 10, 2023

It won't be the performance that takes the headlines from this match, but Alex Carey has put together one of his best Tests with the bat. And, given the fight India have shown in their chase of what would be a record-breaking 444, his second-innings runs could yet prove vital in allowing breathing space to secure victory.

The 114 runs he has contributed across the two knocks make this the most productive of his 20 Tests. There have been bigger individual innings over that time, notably the maiden hundred against South Africa at the MCG late last year, but both his scores in this match have come at important junctures.

In the first innings he ensured Australia passed 450 after the loss of century-makers Travis Head and Steven Smith and in the second he bolstered the lead when India had been buoyed by the early wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, with visions of keeping the target to around 350.

"He's batting beautifully," Cameron Green said. "He's obviously put so much time in in the last few months at home getting ready. He's looking back to his aggressive and positive self and that's what he's been talking to me about, wanting to show intent, and that's exactly what he's shown from ball one."

What was notable about his performance on the fourth day was what was absent: the reverse sweep. He had fallen to the stroke in the first innings making it four times this year the shot at brought his downfall for a tally of just 14 runs. He had also gone that way at a crucial stage of the second Test in Galle in 2022 when he picked out deep cover.

Speaking on Channel Seven before play Ricky Ponting had said he did not expect Carey to play the stroke in the second innings and that's what transpired.

Instead, with Ravindra Jadeja finding significant turn out of the rough, Carey trusted his defence, used the crease well and when he did sweep it was the conventional stroke.

Carey had taken the view that counterattack was the best form of defensive in India, but after making 36 in the first innings of Nagpur he faded with scores 10, 0, 7, 3 and 0.

"It will be my downfall at times, I'll have success with it at times," he said of the reverse sweep during the India tour. "It's finding the right balance, when is the right time to play like that."

The overall split of his scoring was interesting, too, with 70% of his second-innings runs coming on the off side compared to 39% in the first innings.

The runs at The Oval have returned him to the type of productivity he had shown during 2022 where, along with the hundred in Melbourne, he made 93 in Karachi and a vital 67 in Lahore where Australia clinched the series against Pakistan.

Carey has previously shown a liking for English conditions with the bat, albeit mostly against the white ball. He was very impressive during the 2019 ODI World Cup, where he averaged 62.50, and scored his first one-day hundred at Old Trafford on the 2020 tour in the midst of Covid.

However, before this game his only previous red-ball experience in the country had amounted to one game for Sussex in 2019 although the signs were promising with twin half-centuries. A short while later he was drafted into the Ashes squad as a back-up keeper for a tour game against Derbyshire. Four years on, he will be front and centre of Australia's campaign.

Disclaimer: This news is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by Cricday. Source Link