CRICKET: Australia's greatest wicketkeeper-batsman has spoken and he wants selectors to know one thing: pick a pure gloveman first, worry about the runs later.
Adam Gilchrist has heard whispers that there will be a change to the Australian line-up for the Gabba Test with speculation rising South Australian star Alex Carey will be named as 'keeper in place of incumbent Matthew Wade.
While the debate has raged over who deserves to don the gloves when the Ashes get underway at the Gabba on November 23, Gilchrist has sat back and become increasingly concerned about the pressure on the three main contenders - the Wade, Carey and NSW's Peter Nevill - to focus on their batting.
All three struggled with the willow in the opening round of the Sheffield Shield, with Nevill the best of a bad bunch, scoring 20 in the first innings on a seamers' delight at Adelaide Oval.
But for Gilchrist, who averaged an astonishing 47.6 at Test level while also excelling behind the stumps, selectors can't be swayed by those numbers.
It's what happens behind the stumps which matters.
"Definitely gloves first, without doubt,” Gilchrist told SEN's the Run Home when asked what was the most important factor out of glovework, batting and sledging.
"(Being energetic and talkative is) just an added bonus if you're good enough gloveman and you're getting some runs as well. But really, in answer to the question the best 'keeper should be there.”
Worryingly, Nevill's normally crisp work with the gloves was blighted by some costly drops as NSW cruised to victory over the Redbacks.
Gilchrist believes that could be put down to the pressure placed on the trio to deliver a big score and cement their cases.
"The guys would've been walking out in Shield cricket this weekend so focused on scoring runs and probably not as focused on their keeping, such is the focus on the runs,” he said.
"I believe Nevill might have dropped one or two over in Adelaide, so that's clearly showing that if everyone thinks he's the best gloveman and he's dropping them, and relatively easy ones that he'd normally take, they're probably not focusing on the keeping as much as their batting.
"And the batting side of it didn't reveal anything from anyone in the pink ball matches just gone by.”
Gilchrist believes selectors were "hasty” in dumping Nevill last summer in the wake of the Hobart "trainwreck” but, equally, feels for under-pressure Wade whose stocks have plummeted after tough series in India and Bangladesh.
"There were hasty getting rid of Nevill but now that they've got Wade back in there he's had six Test matches in the subcontinent the poor bloke, that's the hardest spot to keep and bat,” Gilchrist said.
"He's probably owed a few games back in these conditions to show what he can do.”
It may all count for nothing, however, with Gilchrist revealing he'd heard of "a big push” for Carey.
Carey is as clean a gloveman but has struggled to back up his sharp work in that facet of his game with steady contributions with the bat.
Gilchrist admits to having only seen snippets of the rising star but is optimistic about his future.
"I've seen a couple of highlights of his and he looks brilliant,” Gilchrist said.
"And I suppose if you looking average in your highlights package you don't want to see a bloke's lowlights package, do you?
"It's always going to be impressive if you look and see highlights of diving catches.
"That's underselling him, all word is he's a very tidy 'keeper, very solid and again very solid without being spectacular by way of the results he's produced with the bat.
"I'm probably starting to think it's more likely that they might say 'righto youngster, you're in'.
"Whoever they pick, they've just got to give them a good run at it.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.