MELBOURNE: Brad Haddin is back in pre-season training with New South Wales and is available for national selection during the home summer, starting with the first Test against South Africa at the Gabba in November.
Following a difficult off-season in which Haddin flew home abruptly from the West Indies in order to be with his seriously ill daughter, Mia, the wicketkeeper and sometime Australian Test vice-captain has turned his attention back to cricket and been a welcome addition to the Blues' preparations for the new season following their own summer of discontent in 2011-12.
While the Victorian gloveman Matthew Wade acquitted himself ably in the Caribbean Tests that Haddin was absent from, he struggled in the subsequent ODI series against England in the UK, having difficulty with the ball moving after it passed the bat and also battling to cope with the high standard of the home bowling attack.
These reverses have added weight to Haddin's case for inclusion in the Test side at the start of the home summer, provided he can prove his readiness with a string of good performances for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield fixtures that will serve as a precursor to the South Africa Tests.
It was also felt that Australia missed Haddin's presence in the dressing room, as a doughty campaigner and leader with a strong record of individual success against England over the past two Ashes series, even if the team stumbled to defeats in each case. Michael Clarke, the Test captain, remains a vocal supporter of Haddin, and even suggested in the West Indies that Wade may be considered as a specialist batsman to accommodate the senior man's return.
Haddin retained his Cricket Australia contract when the slimmed-down list was released in June, and in July it was announced that he had re-signed with the Sydney Sixers in the BBL. His presence around the Blues squad is another reminder that he is on the way back, with an eye on lining up at the Gabba.