Australia wicket-keeper Alex Carey has revealed he maintains a close relationship with a host of former keepers that have previously worn the Baggy Green and often turns to them for advice as his own burgeoning Test career continues to prosper.
Just seven players have donned the gloves for Australia at Test level since the turn of the century, while keeping legends Rod Marsh and Ian Healy were among a group of former players that paved the way for the next generation that Carey is now attempting to emulate.
Fellow keeper Adam Gilchrist presented Carey with his Baggy Green when he made his Test debut against England in Brisbane during the most recent Ashes series in 2021 and the left-hander said the Australia great is among a small, but select, group of former keepers he still remains in contact with.
Carey, in England ahead of the ICC World Test Championship Final against India and an eagerly-awaited Ashes series with England, admitted he enjoys hearing regularly from the tight-knit group of Australian wicket-keepers.
"The beauty of representing Australia as a wicket-keeper is it’s a pretty small club," Carey said.
"Adam Gilchrist presented my Baggy Green and is a guy I obviously looked up to when I was a youngster.
"Brad Haddin was part of the one-day World Cup, I have done some work with Ian Healy, Graham Manou is a South Australian boy and Tim Paine recently as well - and Matty Wade is another.
"It is really nice to be able to bounce ideas off those guys, even just some thoughts and questions to get a second opinion. They are really open to offering advice and support and like I said it is a pretty small club so it is always nice to hear from those guys."
Ricky Ponting is another ex-player to have worked alongside Carey, with the duo's relationship blossoming during the 2019 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup and then re-ignited shortly after when they joined forces in the Indian Premier League with the Delhi Capitals.
Ponting spoke glowingly of Carey on the most recent episode of The ICC Review, with the Australia legend declaring the current gloveman had improved immensely behind the stumps in recent times and was "currently second to none around world cricket" when compared to other Test wicket-keepers.
Carey said he was stoked to hear such strong praise from an iconic Australian player and he will continue to work hard on his trade and become even better over the coming years.
"To hear those words from Ricky is great,” Carey noted.
“As a player I have tried to improve with every game and with every opportunity I get. To work with Ricky over the last number of years, starting over here in England four years ago and part of the One-Day World Cup was great and it would be nice to have a great tour here."
Carey will be aiming to further strengthen his credentials when Australia play six Tests in quick succession over the next two months, with his first chance to add to his one Test century coming in the World Test Championship Final against India at The Oval from June 7.
Australia will enter the one-off Test without playing a competitive warm-up match and the decision raised some eyebrows back home with former skipper Allan Border among a group to have queried the move ahead of an extremely crucial stretch of Test cricket.
But Carey has defended the move and urged the naysayers to hold fire until the completion of the tour.
"The guys have all gone away and had individual programs over this (recent) period. We have had guys playing cricket here in England. The guys at the IPL and some guys at home spending some time there," Carey noted.
"Coming together now we really feel the excitement heading into the Test Championship and I think it will be a hindsight thing about whether or not we should have played a warm-up match.
"As a player I feel like we will be ready come that first match so I think it will be one of the things talked about after the Test match."