Perth: Even though critics have questioned Brad Haddin's position in the Australia Test team, the wicketkeeper has proved his mettle and his leadership skills are also turning out to be pivotal to his efforts to fend off challenges from the next generation, feels Stuart Clark.
Undoubtedly Haddin's position has been strengthened by a serious injury to gloveman Tim Paine and concerns over Matthew Wade's ability to keep wickets at the highest level but his promotion as the vice-captain of the team in the absence of Shane Watson has helped the youngsters.
"I think it's important he's in the team for that reason. Those guys are still learning their craft, they need an older head around," Haddin's Big Bash League side, Sydney Sixers' teammate Stuart Clark said.
"He's important for them because he can bridge that gap from someone like Ricky (Ponting), who has played 160 Tests, to someone like Dave Warner, who has played four," he was quoted as saying by the Age.
Haddin, who had captained New South Wales on and off last decade and also led Australia at Twenty20 level, was recently appointed skipper of Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League.
"If we didn't think he was a good leader we would have never decided to make him captain," said Clark.
"He's a guy that everyone will follow if he shows them the way and that's what we were looking for. Brad is prepared to stand up for what he believes in, he'll tell you how he wants you to play and he expects you to follow him, but he's also prepared to value the time to understand what you need," he added.
Haddin, who has played 159 international matches after he became a regular for Australia following Gilchrist's retirement in 2008, had been recently condemned for reckless dismissals in Cape Town, when Australia was bundled out for 47, and during the unsuccessful run chase in Hobart against lowly New Zealand.
In Sydney also he dropped a regulation opportunity off Gautam Gambhir and his glove work was unconvincing against balls that swung late.
"It's disappointing to miss chances, we'd just gone up an extra metre to make sure the ball was going to carry, it just flew off. It dents your confidence a little bit, but it happens. You've got to get back on the horse, show what sort of person you are and keep throwing punches."
"The bottom line is this happens in cricket and it happens as wicketkeeper, you just don't want to make a habit of it," Haddin told Sky Sports Radio.
Clark believed that although he had missed some important catches, he has also contributed to the team's cause by scoring a few vital half centuries.
"His contribution is still very valuable. Brad's got a lot of different strings to his bow," insisted Clark.