‘Super-excited’ Carey wins race to be Australian keeper for Ashes

Alex Carey called it “a boyhood dream” as he won the race Thursday to be Australia’s wicketkeeper for the first two Ashes Tests against England after scandal-hit Tim Paine stepped down.

The 30-year-old Carey has played plenty of limited-overs cricket for Australia and stood in as the one-day captain in the West Indies this year, but is yet to feature in a Test match.

That will change in Brisbane next week, barring any late mishaps, after he was added to the 15-man squad.

“Alex has been a regular member of the national side in white-ball cricket, particularly in the one-day game,” said chief selector George Bailey.

“He is an excellent cricketer and a fine individual who will bring many great strengths into the team.”

Carey and fellow gloveman Josh Inglis were in a showdown for the role, but the writing was on the wall after Inglis returned home to Perth this week when Australia’s planned intra-squad match in Brisbane fell victim to rain.

Carey has long been considered the understudy to Paine, but Inglis’ superb domestic form in recent seasons saw him vault into contention.

“I am incredibly humbled by this opportunity. It’s an exciting build-up for what is a huge series ahead,” said Carey, adding that he had “a smile from ear to ear”.

“We all know there is a lot going on at the moment and my first thoughts are with Tim (Paine) and his family. Hopefully, we see him back here soon. The full squad is with him and his family.”

Carey got the nod after Paine quit as Test captain and then last week stepped away from cricket over a text-message scandal, leaving selectors scrambling for an alternative just ahead of the December 8 first Test.

While Carey was overlooked for Australia’s T20 squad that won the World Cup last month, with Inglis preferred, it ultimately worked in his favor with plenty of domestic red-ball cricket under his belt in recent weeks.

“I feel like my lead-in has been pretty good and super-excited to get the call,” he said.

“To hopefully have full stands, an Ashes series on home soil, it’s really boyhood dreams coming true and excited to prepare as best I can.”

Australia’s starting eleven is now largely locked in, although selectors need to decide between Usman Khawaja and Travis Head at number five after incumbent Matthew Wade was axed from the squad.

There has also been some chatter that paceman Jhye Richardson might be preferred to Mitchell Starc.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (capt), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.