Dealing with loss of Haddin all part of professional sport

THE wicketkeeping situations of both Australia and South Africa have made for plenty of media space in the lead-up to Friday's eagerly anticipated first Test at the Gabba.

While everyone in Australia who loves their cricket had an opinion on whether Matthew Wade or Brad Haddin should have got the gloves for this series, the South Africans have been watching on as "new" keeper AB de Villiers battles a back problem.

Those of you who read my column regularly will know I am a big Hadds fan and personally I was very disappointed that he wasn't given another go, particularly in light of the very difficult circumstances that he faced on returning home from the Caribbean earlier this year.

In saying that, Matty Wade is a good young fella and obviously deserved his spot.

He took a bit of time to feel his way about where he fitted in the dressing room and importantly got the numbers on the board in the Tests in the West Indies.

While it won't be the same without Hadds in an Australian dressing room this summer, we are all professional sportsmen and it is part and parcel of our life to accept and deal with change.

The other side of the fence is just as interesting.

Mark Boucher had been South Africa's wicketkeeper for as long as I can remember but when he suffered a serious eye injury just before the Proteas' Test series against England, they decided to give the gloves to de Villiers.

De Villiers was the world's No.1 Test batsman in the April rankings released by the International Cricket Council, but has slipped down the admittedly close rankings since then.

It is a huge challenge for him to bat at No.4 or No.5 after spending 100 overs in the field and I suspect he might go to No.6 at some stage if he keeps the gloves.

The whispers keep on coming that his back is not great but mentally he is a really strong character.

It's a bloody tough job wicketkeeping and only time will tell whether it has been a strength for the Proteas to have him take the gloves, or a weakness because his runs output is less.

I was curious to see that he made three scores in the 40s and a 20 in the last Test series against England, so he made some starts but didn't go on.

Let's hope that continues here.

I'm tipping a draw for the first Test, as much as I hope Australia win.

I think the batsmen are going to be very cautious because of the strength of both bowling attacks but I reckon the bowlers will try to be patient too with their plans as both sides circle each other.

It will be a really close series and Australia can win it.

Topics:  australia brad haddin cricket gabba matthew wade south africa

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