Down and dirty: Carey's big moment in Indore triumph – cricket.com.au

India v Australia Tests – Men
Alex Carey has been credited with turning the Indore Test with an overlooked piece of glovework
Louis Cameron
5 March 2023, 07:21 PM AEST
Alex Carey would surely have presumed his days of hard knocks and upper-body bruises were over when he quit his first sporting pursuit of Australian rules football.
But Australia's battered Test wicketkeeper has not only put his body on the line in India, he has also been credited with turning the third Test his side’s way with an overlooked piece of glovework.
Two momentum-shifting catches from Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja were widely acknowledged as major factors in their victory in Indore this week.
Yet it was another less flashy but equally vital piece of fielding that Australia have pointed to as being the tone-setting moment in India slumping to a rare defeat on their home patch.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill had blazed 27 runs – which turned out to be nearly a quarter of their entire first-innings total – in quick-time before Matthew Kuhnemann spun one prodigiously past the advancing Rohit.
It turned so much that Steve Smith at first slip raised his hands in anticipation of catching the ball himself.
But Carey kept his composure to effect the stumping.
"Instinct takes over when you see a ball bounce like that," Carey said. "I don't think many of us were expecting an eight-degree turning ball that early in the game.
"But it was nice to hold onto that and for us to get a bit of momentum and Kuhny as well (got) a lot of confidence out of that wicket especially.
Coach Andrew McDonald identified the stumping – just Carey's second in 18 Tests having gotten his first in Delhi – as a major moment in the match.
"The one part that hasn't been spoken about enough is Alex Carey’s keeping," said McDonald.
"I think that on day one, that ball to Sharma, that high take, that stumping – if he doesn't execute that, Sharma gets a look at the wicket, he plays differently and the game rolls in a different direction.
"I think sometimes we are quick to criticise wicketkeepers. In this instance, I thought that day one was an absolute clinic and gave us control of the game.
"We saw (India keeper KS) Bharat miss a couple of half chances, or get his leg in the way of balls that could have went to first slip. So I thought that was a key moment in the game."
It had come in a first hour in which Australia had failed to review two appeals against Rohit (one caught-behind, one lbw) that were both shown to be out.
"It was nice after we missed a couple of reviews to get that one – I thought once the big screen showed the nick, I thought he might have settled in for a nice 150 or something like that," said Carey.
"It was challenging conditions throughout the match, but it was nice to get that one away and for us to get on a bit of a roll after that."
Carey also got struck in the helmet by a Kuhnemann delivery that exploded off the pitch, bringing back memories of getting smashed in the grille off the first ball Nathan Lyon bowled in their Test series against Sri Lanka last year in Galle.
The South Australian’s lack of byes conceded has also been important. Since 2006, only two visiting wicketkeepers to India have conceded fewer byes in a series of at least three Tests than Carey's 17 in this campaign.
He let through none in India's (admittedly short) first innings. By contrast, Bharat conceded nine, which is more runs than Australia's last five batters scored between them in their first dig.
"Galle I had a ball hit me in the head and (then again) at Indore as well – so those two are quite up there in terms of turn and bounce," Carey said when asked if the Holkar Stadium surface had been the most challenging he has kept on.
"I think more than anything (not letting through byes) just helps with the scoreboard. If we leak 10, 15, 20 runs it's quite a lot on that wicket.
"It can turn out to be an extra batter at times. You don't really think about it at the time, you probably look back and go 'that was pretty good'.
"But a few nice little bruises as well … on the shoulders, I've got big shoulders."
Carey's keeping had come under the microscope during his first Test series after taking over from ex-skipper Tim Paine at the beginning of the 2021-22 Ashes.
The work he has put in even since taking over the Test job has shown in this series, with a leg-side catch on the first ball after the tea break on day two in Nagpur off Virat Kohli another standout moment.
Carey said Tim Nielsen, Ian Healy, Brad Haddin and Adam Gilchrist have been important influences on his glovework.
"I speak to guys regularly who've played for Australia … then when you land over here, you get a bit of a feel," he said.
"I think our training wickets have been really difficult as well so it's been nice to actually stand in a training wicket and keep to our bowlers.
"You don't always do that in Australia, the nets are a bit shorter, and you probably go about your business more standing back.
"I think just to land here, get stuck in, get dirty and understand it's going to be a tough tour behind the stumps."
Main image credit: BCCI/Sportzpics
Border-Gavaskar Qantas Tour of India 2023
February 9-13: India won by an innings and 132 runs
February 17-21: India won by six wickets
March 1-5: Australia won by nine wickets
March 9-13: Fourth Test, Ahmedabad, 3pm AEDT
All matches broadcast live and exclusive on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat
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