Having earned his praise for his performance at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, Australia wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey welcomed the opportunity to work with Steve Waugh.
Carey was one of the standout performers in Australia’s World Cup campaign, which he finished with 375 runs in nine innings, at an average of 62.50. But more than the numbers, it was his composure under pressure and range of strokes with which he impressed. It prompted Waugh to compare the youngster to Michael Hussey.
With the former Australia captain now mentoring the team in the early part of their Ashes campaign, Carey is making use of his availability to transition effectively into red-ball cricket. "If I'm half as good as him [Hussey], I'll be happy, he's an incredible player," Carey said. "Having Steve is amazing for the group. I think he's won nine [eight] Ashes [series as player] and been over here [England] and played a lot. To have the knowledge of Steve Waugh, one of the greatest Australian cricketers, be a part of this group is something we're really lucky to have.
"Personally, I just had a quick chat just getting to know Steve. It's quite early and he'll mentor us and have his spin on things. It's just great knowledge to have. Steve's been watching the one-day stuff and commentating a bit there. I've had a few little chats with him, but more moving now into the red ball and getting that focus of a longer format.
"The patience of the game, staying focused for longer, little things that will come out over the next few days. The more we train, the more you start talking, you start asking questions."
Some of Carey’s best performances at the World Cup came in crunch situations. Against West Indies, he made 45 and partnered Steve Smith in a 68-run stand to put up the first signs of recovery, after Australia had sunk to 79/5. They ended up making 288.
Then, in Australia’s next match, against India, he slammed an unbeaten 35-ball 55 against one of the tournament’s best attacks. Australia were still comprehensively beaten, by 36 runs, but the ease with which Carey stroked the ball while the rest had struggled in a tall chase of 353, was eye-catching.
His 71 against New Zealand from No.7 was integral to lifting Australia from 92/5 to 243/9, which they eventually defended by 86 runs. Even in Australia’s last game in the round-robin, against South Africa, he nearly helped them chase down 326 with a superb 85 off 69 balls.
All through, Carey kept a cool head and absorbed pressure while enticing with his strokeplay. "I guess different circumstances throughout the World Cup were really good learning experiences for me," Carey said. "Having Smith and Warner back in the side, and the experienced guys I got to bat with, you learn a lot out in the middle.
"Obviously, batting [at] seven, you hope to come in during the last 10, and if you don't, then you do your best through the middle to be busy, occupy the crease. At times, it felt just like play good cricket, and play a bit of Test cricket - absorb some pressure and rebuild at times. It was good to go through different circumstances and have some success.
"The last six to eight weeks have been a massive learning experience for me and then going back 12 months even. Every time I go out to play, I try to learn as much as I can from success or failures, learn from the experienced guys in the team, and once you get put under pressure, you learn a lot about yourself pretty quickly as well.”
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