The BBL10 century drought has been broken in the classiest and most impressive of circumstances. And the timing couldn’t have been better for Alex Carey.
The Adelaide Strikers vice-captain and Australia’s No. 1 short-form wicket-keeper on Thursday night produced a clinical and near flawless knock against the Brisbane Heat to notch the first BBL hundred of the summer.
Carey picked the Heat’s bowling attack apart and played the quintessential T20 innings at the Adelaide Oval on his way to his second ever BBL ton. He became just the sixth player to ever score multiple BBL centuries.
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The left-handed opener barely made a mistake on his way to 101 off just 62 balls – an innings that included 10 fours and three sixes. And when he was eventually caught behind by Jimmy Peirson off Mark Steketee, replays suggested he shouldn’t have been given out as the ball appeared to graze his shoulder.
Nonetheless, Carey was again the backbone of the Strikers’ batting innings, helping his team reach 5-197 at the end of their allotted 20 overs.
“That is a superb innings, just class,” former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds told Fox Cricket. “Never been in a flap or fluster, he’s just cruised his way to a hundred in a magnificent innings.
“For the young kids out there watching this man play tonight, this is how you play white-ball cricket. He’s been in control of this innings all night.”
Legendary Aussie batsman Michael Hussey heaped praise on Carey’s ability to score runs in a variety of ways, declaring after the match it was “close to the perfect T20 hundred”.
“You just don’t really notice him scoring his runs. You look up and, gee whiz, he’s 25 and then he’s 50. He’s almost like a silent assassin, he sneaks up on you,” Hussey told Fox Cricket.
“He’s played beautifully. He’s played the quicks well, he’s hit beautifully through cover with those classical drives, he’s played the spinners well with a couple of big slog sweeps but then he’s rotated the strike and run hard between the wickets.
“He’s just so hard to bowl to, especially when he’s in this sort of form.”
Carey didn’t produced an explosive start to his innings, scoring just seven runs from the first 11 balls he faced.
But he soon found his rhythm, especially when part-time leggie Marnus Labuschagne was introduced into the attack, with Carey smashing two sixes in the sixth over.
“I would’ve loved to have gotten off to a flyer, but I suppose standing at the other end to a Jake Weathered going really strongly, I wasn’t too flustered by that,” Carey told Fox Cricket post-game. “Then Marnus came on (to bowl) and I thought that could be a pretty good match-up – and then it started to flow.
“In T20 cricket, you can have some dot balls and singles and you probably feel like you need to get on with it. I think the thing for me is staying quite still, really clear and calm in those situations. If you bat long enough, you know you’re probably going to get into a surge in the end.”
Carey’s knock saw him move to third on the leading BBL10 run-scorers table behind Sixer Josh Philippe and Hurricane Ben McDermott.
The timing of Carey’s performance – and his bulk of BBL10 runs – makes for intriguing timing with Australian Test captain Tim Paine under the biggest spotlight of his career following his performance as a skipper and keeper against India.
Paine remains determined to lead his country to this year’s Test championship final and he’s not looking beyond next summer’s Ashes. But with several pundits questioning his tactics in the field, as well as criticising some uncharacteristically sloppy performances with the gloves, his spot in the side has been questioned for the first time since taking over the captaincy reins in 2018.
Carey is not only considered the Test wicketkeeper-in-waiting, he’s also regarded as a future Aussie captain. When he led Australia A against India in an exhibition match last month, he top-scored in a tough first innings for his side then notched a gritty half-century in the second dig.
“There’s so much to like about Alex Carey,” Symonds said.
“His leadership, there’s no mess and no fuss with him. He just gets out there and plays cricket.
“He’s calm, his decision-making is good. He’s one of those blokes that would be first picked in your team. He’s really of quality – and that quality is very, very high.”
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