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Healy backs Nevill over Wade for Ashes

Cricket

Wicketkeeping great Ian Healy has questioned the wisdom of Australia’s Test selectors while backing Peter Nevill to replace Matthew Wade behind the stumps for the Ashes.

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Wade faces an almighty battle to save his Test career, with Nevill and South Australian bolter Alex Carey jostling to take his spot unless he can deliver much-needed runs for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.

A lack of big scores was the main reason cited by selectors when they dropped Nevill from the Test side last summer in favour of Wade.

But Healy yesterday endorsed Nevill as the country’s most technically proficient glovesman, adding that it was unrealistic to expect the brilliance of Adam Gilchrist – who averaged 48 in Tests – to be replicated by his successors.

With the likes of Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb still settling into the Test batting order, Healy said it was incumbent on Australia’s selectors to focus on shoring up the top order and take pressure off the wicketkeeper.

“I think they sort of disrespected ‘Wadey’ a little bit in India, dropping him for one (ODI) game and then bringing him back… so I sense that they might be going back to Nevill,” Healy told SEN radio.

“What you need (is) someone to average 30, make handy runs when we absolutely need them and make sure your top six do their job.

“The quandary we’ve got at the moment is we do not know our No.6. We’ve got a brand new No.2 (Renshaw), Handscomb brand new at No.5 and (Usman) Khawaja has been in and out.

“The disruption to the top order is putting a whole lot of pressure on the wicketkeeping selection, and it shouldn’t.”

Wade has averaged 20 with the bat since being recalled to the Test side last year – slightly below the 22 averaged by Nevill during his 17 Tests.

The Tasmanian’s combative presence behind the stumps has often been cited as an area in which he excels, but Healy said Nevill could deliver similar energy if given the chance to cement his spot in the side.

“You can’t get significant presence without performance,” he said.

“You just need to perform, perform, perform and the opposition will start to feel you and you’ll start being confident enough to share some energy with your other teammates.

“We’ve got to get this keeping position down pat, and Peter Nevill was on his way to that.

“He had flattened out a little bit, I’ll give them that, but they could have sparked him up with a bit of warning rather than dropping him.”

-AAP

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