Australia's selectors want to take Brad Haddin to the 2013 Ashes, and have challenged the 34-year-old gloveman to raise his level of performance to get there. Haddin is being rested for the first three ODIs against India and Sri Lanka, granting Matthew Wade the chance to push his case for a greater role behind the stumps, but the senior man remains well entrenched in the selectors' plans as both keeper and leader.
Mickey Arthur, the national coach and also a selector, said the panel wanted to be able to keep Haddin on until the next meeting with England, but needed to see more runs from him to turn the possibility into reality.
"Behind the stumps, the leadership he gives us is insurmountable and you can't put a price on that," Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm comfortable with where Brad's at, yes we'd like more runs from him, but I'm really comfortable that Brad is on the right track. Yes we've got to get performance and nobody is guaranteed their position, but I'm very comfortable that Brad Haddin could potentially go forward to the Ashes series."
Haddin's current place as Michael Clarke's deputy is significant, as the duo formed a potent leadership axis against India. Alongside Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, Haddin's experience and savvy are considered critical to the team's development. Asked to quantify the value of the elder trio, Arthur said: "They are adding a massive amount, a massive amount."
Australia's series win over India was a marker of significant progress for the hosts, but its aftermath has been dominated by criticism of the Indian effort. Arthur said the Australians were due some credit for the way they had performed across the four Tests.
"I'm not sure what the issues are that [India] have among themselves, but what I do know is that our guys played exceptionally good cricket, and sometimes your opponent is only allowed to play as well as you let them," Arthur said. "There has been a focus on India not performing, but we need to have a look at ourselves and say 'maybe we did play some good cricket'.
"We need to give ourselves a pat on the back. We know it is just the start of this journey though, we're nowhere near the finished article as a Test team, there's a lot of room for improvement, a lot of things we can do better, and it is the start of what could be a very exciting journey."
That journey leads to England in 2013, and Arthur said he had kept an interested eye on the concurrent series between Andrew Strauss' team and Pakistan. A dramatic 2-0 series victory for Pakistan has opened questions about England's No. 1 status, but Arthur said the circumstances they encountered were extremely difficult for any touring team.
"One thing we do need to understand about that is England have just come out of a winter, where they haven't played a huge amount of cricket," he said. "They've gone to conditions where it's turned, which is really tough to counter... [One warm-up match] was a big contrast to last summer ... I wouldn't read too much into it, they were us much out of their comfort zone as they could possibly be, and they'll be on the money for the following [Ashes] series, no doubt."