Wicketkeeper Josh Inglis believes he’ll be ready to represent the green and gold should he be tapped on the shoulder for the first Ashes Test on December 8.
Currently with the Australian squad in Queensland in preparation for the series, Inglis is in a tussle with Alex Carey for the spot left vacant by Tim Paine, taking an indefinite break from cricket.
Opportunity knocks for Inglis and Carey, the two glovemen originally picked in Australia’s ‘A’ squad. The pair join bowling all-rounder Michael Neser and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson as potential Test debutants. Elsewhere, Travis Head and Usman Khawaja are aiming to claim the final spot in what is a well-set batting line-up.
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26-year-old Inglis has made a name for himself in spite of stiff keeping competition, even in a Western Australian system boasting Josh Philippe, Cameron Bancroft and Sam Whiteman. The preferred ‘keeper for his state, Inglis has built a reputation for keeping things tidy and chiming in with the bat, averaging a tick over 34 in First-Class cricket. In last year's Sheffield Shield season, Inglis averaged 73 for Western Australia, making three centuries,
“Last (domestic) season was obviously a standout season for myself, and it’s probably the first really good season I’ve had.”
“Being involved in these squads is probably just off the back of that and it’s quite crazy to think how far I’ve come in a short space of time, but it’s really exciting for myself.”
Inglis credits his longer format form to refining his concentration in building longer innings.
“I really narrowed down my focus and my routines and that held me in really good stead going into the Shield hub last season.”
“(I) did a lot of work with our ‘psych’ and our batting coach Beau Casson on that sort of thing. I really wanted to face more balls and really prolong my innings and by narrowing my focus I was able to do that and score a few hundreds so that was really pleasing.”
"I just got to the stage before last season where I was playing well, but I was getting a lot of fifties and starts, and not going on.”
Despite the wealth of first-class runs, it was Inglis' white ball form that grabbed the Australian selectors' attention. Runs both in Australia and England led to a call-up to Australia’s T20 World Cup squad, in spite of being overlooked for tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh.
Remarkably, Inglis almost made his international debut at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final, with Matthew Wade revealing that he almost missed the match with a grade two side strain. Australian team doctors chose not to disclose the extent of Wade’s injury, with the ‘keeper admitting to ‘bluffing’ during the warm-up. Going through the first innings in the field unscathed, Wade was not required with the bat, as Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell steered Australia home to a maiden men’s title in the format.
With Wade not a part of Australia’s long format plans, Inglis’ only threat for the job is 30-year-old Carey, with 45 ODIs and 38 T20Is to his name. After a rough trot to begin his Shield campaign, Carey found his touch with a century for South Australia in One Day Cup action - just the spark the left-hander needed to hit his straps in Australia’s quest to keep the urn.
Unable to enjoy time in the middle through the same competitive action, Inglis believes his preparation still bodes well at the next level should he be selected.
“I wasn’t able to force my way into the team (for the World Cup) but other than that I’ve been training really well, hitting the ball really nicely.
“I’m feeling really confident about my game at the moment so, given the opportunity I feel like I can do a good job.
“I’ve faced plenty of red balls. I’m ready to go.”
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