Emerging wicketkeeper Alex Carey is still coming to terms with his recent rise to fame as one of Australian cricket’s hottest prospects.
The South Australian began his professional sporting career as an AFL aspire, turning down a rookie contract offer from the South Australian Cricket Association to join the AFL’s new expansion club, the Greater Western Sydney Giants.
Carey captained the side and even won a best and fairest, but was not given a place in their inaugural AFL squad for the 2012 season and had to return to Adelaide.
Fast-forward six years and Carey found himself starring for the Adelaide Strikers in their maiden KFC Big Bash League title triumph, earning himself a gig with the gloves for Australia in their unbeaten start to the Gillette T20 tri-series.
The left-hander hit 443 runs at a tick under 50 in BBL07, in one of the most impressive Big Bash batting cameos by a ‘keeper.
“It’s all happened pretty quickly,” Carey said.
“You sit back and pinch yourself, it’s all very exciting, hopefully it’s just a start. But at the moment it’s a really good feeling.
“I felt like I’ve worked really hard the last couple of years to get where I want to be but I’ve still got a long way to go.
“I’ve loved it. It’s a dream come true playing for my country.”
At the start of this summer, Carey had played in just one T20 and was behind Matthew Wade, Peter Nevill and Tim Paine in the national wicketkeeping pecking order.
Paine’s outstanding Ashes series authorised him as the country’s number one gloveman, but Carey is the most likely heir to Paine’s throne in all three formats of the game after an outstanding couple of months.
At 33-years old, Paine is not getting any younger, and Australian cricket supporters can only ponder how good the Tasmanian’s career could have been if not for injuries crippling him.
Carey, just 26 years-old, gives selectors something to think about, providing the national side the long-term answer they have been searching for behind the stumps.
“T20 cricket is really strong in Australia and it’s only getting better with the Big Bash and guys getting picked up in the IPL. We’ve got some fantastic short form players,” he said.
Carey has only been called upon with the bat once this series, aiding Glenn Maxwell to a rare T20 century in Hobart last week.
Needing two to win from 12 balls, Maxwell, on 97, urged Carey to finish the game and ignore his teammate’s milestone, a gesture that represents the camaraderie of the national side.
“It was a nice gesture of ‘Maxi’ and I think that just shows that the group’s really close, we’re having a lot of fun at the moment.
“Winning is helping that but even if we’re (weren’t), the group’s really excited, really close and for someone like Maxi to do that for a guy like me in a short space of time just shows that we’ve got some really good blokes in the side.”