Haddin happy to be his own man

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/b/bradhaddin_ap.jpg' class='caption'> Brad Haddin cut a largely anonymous figure in England four years ago but he is now set to be centre stage when the Ashes get underway next month.

Updated: June 18, 2009 15:47 IST
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Brad Haddin cut a largely anonymous figure in England four years ago but he is now set to be centre stage when the Ashes get underway next month.

In 2005, Haddin was the understudy to Australia great Adam Gilchrist, perhaps the best wicket-keeper/batsman cricket has ever known.

But he bided his time and Haddin, who made his Test debut just over a year ago, is all set to be behind the stumps come the Ashes series which gets underway in Cardiff on July 8.

While Australia has endured some measure of uncertainty when it comes to spin bowling since the retirement of Shane Warne, it is to Haddin's credit that there has been no similar doubt about who is the best man to don the gloves now that Gilchrist is no longer on the scene.

Gilchrist was arguably good enough to have played Test cricket solely as a batsman but Haddin, 31, a stylish if less aggressive shotmaker, is keen that his performances be assessed in their own right.

"There's talk about comparisons and things like that, but I think it's very unfair," said Haddin.

"Adam could be said to be one of the best players to have ever played the game so I think the comparisons are a little bit disrespectful to him because he's one of the greats of the game and I've only just started, only 12 months into my international career.

"Adam could easily take the game away from you with the bat inside a session, but I don't think you'll see any of that flamboyance from me."

It took Haddin 16 Test innings to make a maiden Test half-century but then the New South Wales stumper turned that into a fine 169 against New Zealand in Adelaide.

Since then he has averaged over 48 in six Tests, home and away, against South Africa.

It is a record which suggests Haddin could well be a worthy successor to the likes of Gilchrist, Ian Healy and Rodney Marsh - a trio of Australia wicket-keeper/batsmen who seemed to reserve some of their best performances for the 'old enemy'.

"I've actually been very happy with the first 12 months," said Haddin.

"It was a shaky start but you obviously get tested a lot more in this environment, but I've enjoyed the challenge and the added scrutiny you're under at this level.

"In the last six months I've really started to understand a lot more what international cricket's like. I'm also starting to feel a lot more comfortable in this environment and been able to express myself as a player.

"I want to contribute to an Australian win. I'm not thinking about whether I'm going to be a thorn in their side or anything like that, I just want to contribute to an Australian win in the series."

Haddin and nine other members of the Australian Test squad have spent the last week in Leicester, central England, training at Grace Road following the team's first round exit from the World Twenty20 tournament.

The remainder of the Test squad joined up with their colleagues in London on Tuesday, where they will train for a few days before heading down to the south coast for next week's four-day match against county side Sussex at Hove.

"We've done a lot of training and had some pretty intense training, but it's been good," he explained.

"It wasn't bad boy nets or anything like that, but we only had 10 players there so you can get a lot more done individually than you normally would with a squad of 16 - it was good preparation for what's coming up."

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