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Ian Healy

Australia's call to go with one wicket-keeper worries Healy

Ian Healy, the former Australia wicket-keeper batsman, has said that Australia's decision not to include a back-up wicket-keeper in their 15-man squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 could backfire.

Australia named their World Cup squad on Monday, 15 April, choosing Alex Carey as their sole wicket-keeper and leaving out Peter Handscomb to make way for the returning Steve Smith. Healy was among those who questioned this decision, with the wicket-keeping legend worried about a "doomsday scenario Australia is not prepared for".

"I still worry about a warm-up incident; if Carey goes down in warm-ups or in the first 10 overs," Healy told Fox Sports. "I’m a little bit concerned [we don’t have a keeping back-up]."

Handscomb, along with other 'keepers like Matthew Wade and Tim Paine, have been named in the Australia A squads that will tour England at the same time as the World Cup, and can replace Carey if an injury arises. However, Australia might find themselves in a spot of bother if Carey gets injured just minutes before a game or during a match. No other player in their squad has started a game as a wicket-keeper, although David Warner has one catch while standing in behind the stumps in one Test.

Healy believes Handscomb could have been the perfect addition to the squad. "I thought that back-up role was going to be good for him at the World Cup," he said.

"He’s very capable of doing it in the one-day game as we’ve seen for Victoria. I had him in my World Cup squad as a batsman and someone who could do the 'keeping job if there was a warm-up accident or something like that ... I would have had a bit of wicket-keeping back-up in the 15."

I had Handscomb in my World Cup squad as a batsman and someone who could do the keeping job if there was a warm-up accident or something like that.

Ian Healy

Peter Handscomb has been one of Australia's best batsmen in 2019. He averages 43.54 in one-day international cricket and has a ton and three fifties to his name this year. However, with Smith making a comeback after his 12-month suspension, Handscomb took the fall.

Justin Langer, the Australia head coach, also admitted that he has been "brutally unlucky" to have missed out and confessed that dropping him had been a tough call. "Selection is always hard, there’s no doubt about that. It’s the toughest part of the job. It has been for as long as I’ve been coaching but certainly last Tuesday was really tough," Langer told RSN Radio.

Peter Handscomb was left out as Steve Smith returned to the Australia squad
Peter Handscomb was left out as Steve Smith returned to the Australia squad

"I can give you all the cliches, I can try to find some good reasons, but the truth is I can’t tell you how close he was to being selected. He had a brilliant time of it. He played exactly the role that we talked about for the back end of the ODI summer and in India and the UAE. He did a great job."

Langer also backed Smith to perform the role Handscomb's role at the World Cup. "He’s [Handscomb] super fit and a terrific young bloke. He gets on and does his job. But we just felt that Steve Smith would play that same role and Steve Smith is one of the all-time greats of Australian cricket."

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