Hartley backed for Australia Test debut

November 18, 2014 12:49:52 UK

Chris Hartley is being backed as the man to come into the Australian side if Brad Haddin is not fit to keep wicket in the opening Test against India.

The 32-year-old Queenslander has yet to make his Test debut, but former Ashes tourist Ray Phillips believes he deserves a chance.

Haddin is set to keep wicket and captain the side if he is fit for the first Test in Brisbane.

That’s still in doubt though, as coach Darren Lehmann insists Haddin needs to play for NSW in their Shield game against South Australia at the SCG beginning on 25th November to prove his fitness.

Phillips, a former Queensland wicketkeeper who toured England with the 1985 Ashes team, is now a radio commentator and has seen all the leading contenders for the role should Haddin not be available.

Hartley, Victoria’s Matthew Wade, Sam Whiteman of WA, NSW’s Peter Nevill and Tim Paine of Tasmania all average between 32 and 40 with the bat in first-class cricket.

Phillips said: “I think their batting really cancels each other out. You’d be happy with any of their batting averages at No. 7 in Test cricket.

“Therefore, you simply have to pick the best wicketkeeper. If Haddin is not playing for the first Test, they should pick Hartley because in my opinion he is the best ‘keeper going around.”

Hartley would become the oldest player to make a Test debut for Australia since Bryce McGain in 2009 if he is picked.

He has had a strong start to the season, making 142 not out in Queensland’s opening Sheffield Shield game against South Australia and 48 against Western Australia in their most recent game.

Phillips said: “In more than 10 years of watching Harts, I could count on one hand the catches he has dropped. I have watched him closely ever since he started playing and he rarely, if ever, makes a mistake.”

Australia are 2.00 to win the 2015 Ashes series, with England 2.50 and the draw 6.00.

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