Carey takes AFL lesson to cricket future

Scott Bailey
Alex Carey has been long touted as Tim Paine's eventual successor behind the stumps

Alex Carey knows from his past life as an AFL prodigy that he is no certainty to one day succeed Tim Paine as Australia's Test wicketkeeper.

Carey has been earmarked as a future star for Australia in all formats, and the eventual heir apparent to 35-year-old Paine when he ends his Test career.

The South Australian's case has only been further enhanced this summer with two Sheffield Shield centuries.

Already Australia's white-ball vice-captain, Carey's name has also routinely been floated as a possible leader in all formats.

But after being scouted as one of the country's best teenagers by Kevin Sheedy at the GWS Giants in 2010, Carey knows as well as anyone the rollercoasters of professional sport.

He captained and was the club's best-and-fairest in the under-18s competition, but missed a spot in their inaugural senior squad for 2012 and gave the game away.

And it's with that in mind he is taking any suggestion he is certain to one day replace Paine lightly.

"When Australian cricket teams are winning it's hard to change," Carey said in Mumbai ahead of the one-day series against India.

"I don't look too far ahead. From my previous experiences with football you know things can change pretty quickly.

"For me it's to do my absolute best here in the one-day team and hopefully be a part of the Twenty20 World Cup, which is not too far away.

"It's (about) focusing on the important stuff and that's playing good cricket in the coloured clothes, hopefully win a series in India."

Paine's Test future was the talking point of the summer ahead of Steve Smith's leadership ban expiring in March.

Adam Gilchrist even noted a sense of "deja vu", claiming Carey's performances were much like the ones he himself ousted Ian Healy with in 1999.

But Paine has shown he has no plans on stepping aside soon.

Regularly citing the 2021 World Test Championship final as the team's goal, he enjoyed the best match of his career in the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand.

He has also kept as well as he ever has, prompting coach Justin Langer to label him one of the Test teams most important players and seeing no reason why he can't stay on.