Josh Inglis ready to take Tim Paine’s place in Australian team

Josh Inglis could play in the opening Ashes Test for Australia. Picture: Tony Marshall/Getty Images
Josh Inglis could play in the opening Ashes Test for Australia. Picture: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Alex Carey’s match practice and Josh Inglis’ lack of it could end up being the decisive factor in the crunch call over Australia’s new Ashes wicketkeeper.

Selectors may still be a few days away from announcing who Tim Paine’s replacement will be behind the stumps for the first Test, so nothing is certain, but Carey’s last-start 100 for South Australia was a timely reminder he is the option that comes with a recent form guide.

There is a feeling inside the selection room that Inglis, 26, is the better gloveman and possibly the likely longer-term keeper – particularly looking forward to next year’s tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where keeping to Nathan Lyon on dusty, spinning decks will be tricky business.

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But as it stands a week out from the first Ashes Test, Inglis simply hasn’t had match practice, having served as Australia’s standby wicketkeeper at the Twenty20 World Cup without getting a game.

Carey’s batting form for South Australia has been patchy in Sheffield Shield cricket, but he does have two hundreds in the one-day competition and he is well and truly into the rhythm of the summer.

He also provides the certainty of big match experience as a seasoned white ball international. Inglis played one Sheffield Shield match for Western Australia before flying to the World Cup, but prior to that his performances – although very strong – were in the English Hundred competition in August.

There is also a feeling it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Inglis to have another domestic season performing now that the spotlight is on him – but selectors are yet to make a final call and they could swing back towards the English-born gloveman.

Inglis has been preparing to play for Australia since he joined the squad at the T20 World Cup and says his mindset doesn’t change now he could be on the verge of his Test debut.

More rain in Queensland is expected to wipe out what loomed as a final battle for the Test place in a three-day intra-squad clash, and Inglis said he hadn’t been given any indication which way selectors might go.

“I don’t know when they are going to make their decision. I’ll find out and then get my head around where I’m going to be playing,” Inglis said on Monday.

“The whole time I had the mindset of preparing to play just in case, that’s the same here.

“It’s either the Test match or the Aussie A game, so I have cricket I need to prepare for.

“That’s my mindset at training and how its been for a while.

“I feel in a really good place with my game at the moment and if given the opportunity, I feel really confident.”

Inglis, who was born in Leeds, stormed into national contention on the back of a huge last summer that included three Sheffield Shield centuries for WA and a season average of 73.12

He reaped the rewards of working with a sports psychologist after wanting to find the best way to face more balls, to bat for longer and get the most out of himself. He said it was a new-found method he could draw on should he be picked.

“That’s the beauty of it, I can replicate what I am doing in training and in games,” he said.

“It’s not something that just comes out during a game.

“I was getting a lot of starts and not going on. I went 25 Shield games without making a hundred. I went to Matt Burgan, our psych, and spoke in depth about that and it was brilliant.

“It changed my game and allowed me to build a couple of big innings.

“I am trying to use it every time I pick up a bat, to help myself. It’s before the ball is bowled, when it’s bowled and then after it. It’s making sure I am replicating it as much as possible.

“I haven’t played much cricket but I played a Shield game before I came to Queensland (for scores of 28 and 13) and I’ve faced plenty of red balls, so I am ready to go.”

Inglis has a career first-class average of 34.03 in 45 matches that puts him neck and neck with Carey, who averages 34.73.

Before Carey’s one-day century he had made scores of 0, 7 and 6 in the Shield for SA.

“It’s quite crazy to think how far I have come in a short space of time but it’s really exciting,” Inglis said.

“I feel like if I was given the opportunity I’d do a good job.”

Inglis, who moved to Australia when he was 14, said there would be some “banter over the dinner table” with his parents should he be picked. But there were no divided loyalties anymore.

“Growing up in England I supported England, but that’s all changed now,” he said.

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