Melbourne : Left-handed batter Alex Carey on Wednesday scripted history as he became the second Australian wicket-keeper after legendary Rod Marsh to score a Test century at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), on the third day of the second Test against South Africa, here.
Carey celebrated a brisk maiden Test hundred (111) in typically understated fashion. He carved a wide ball through the off-side with only an ear-to-ear grin giving away the fact he had just reached the rare milestone.
Infact, his batting partner Cameron Green showed even more elation, raising both arms as he ran from the other end before exchanging an embrace with Carey. The 31-year-old, who took 131 balls to bring up his century, was, however, visibly emotional after his achievement.
“As is Alex Carey’s way, there was a real humility in the way that he celebrated that,” his former Test coach Justin Langer told Channel Seven. It marks the first hundred by an Australian Test keeper in nearly a decade.
Brad Haddin, who scored 118 in Adelaide during the 2013-14 Ashes, had been the last. No keeper, Australian or otherwise, had previously reached triple-figures in an MCG Test since Marsh’s unbeaten 110 in the second innings of the 1977 Centenary Test, the first of his three international hundreds.
Notably, Carey had been among the Australian team members who paid a rousing tribute to Marsh after beating West Indies at Adelaide Oval at a memorial unveiled in the cricket legend’s honour last month. And, weeks later, he has his own history.
The left-hander was called to the crease in dramatic fashion late on day two when Green had his finger broken by Anrich Nortje, surviving to stumps to be unbeaten on nine overnight. He then watched from the other end this morning as Nortje knocked over Travis Head and David Warner (bowled first ball after returning from full body cramps the previous day) in successive deliveries.
When Australia lost their seventh wicket not before Carey had reached fifty, he would ordinarily have been required to hit out to amass as many quick runs as possible before the rest of the tail folded.
However the courageous return of Green gave him the perfect platform, taking advantage of a tiring Proteas attack as he played a series of exquisite strokes through the off-side. Carey’s ton came in his 15th Test.
By comparison, the three previous Australian men’s team wicket-keeping century-makers — Haddin, Matthew Wade and Adam Gilchrist — took two, three and nine Tests respectively.