Nothing in life comes easy, and it certainly rings true for Alex Carey in terms of his sporting career. The Australian T20 team’s co vice-captain’s trajectory is far from direct, with the wicketkeeper experiencing more setbacks than most.
Growing up in Loxton, the Riverland region of South Australia, Carey was a natural athlete, showing keen interest in both cricket and football. As a teenager, Alex was playing at a high level in both cricket and AFL, but set his sights pursuing the latter. From the age of 15, Carey played for Glenelg in the South Australian National Football League, but his first real break was being selected for the South Australia squad of the 2008 AFL Under 18 Championships. Unfortunately for Carey, he never played a game.
The following year, while playing for the same squad, Carey was approached by the South Australian Cricket Association. Seeing potential in the young player, Carey was offered a rookie contract, but with his eye firmly on football, he turned it down. Instead, a move to Sydney was on the cards, where Carey joined the Greater Western Sydney Giants, marking yet another milestone in his career that would eventually be marred by bad luck.
He proved his worth with the GWS Giants in 2010, captaining his team to the finals of the TAC Cup. While he may have missed the last four games due to injury, he still managed to be awarded best and fairest. However, after two solid years, Carey missed out on a place on the squad for the 2012 season, soberly informed he was delisted.
The crushing blow came out of the blue, even after delivering consistent performance throughout the year. Due to a number of factors, including increased draft competition, Carey just didn’t make the cut and was forced to return to his hometown, abruptly ending his AFL career.
“It was truly devastating. I didn’t really know how to take it. I was almost in tears pretty much straight away… the dream of playing footy was potentially over.”
Fortunately for Carey, it was a case of one locker room door closing and another opening. He soon took up residence with the Glenelg Cricket Team, and then with the South Australia Team.
“I started to get back into my training. Growing up I’d always loved cricket and that passion was there again.”
However, Carey’s promising cricket career would not come easy. During the 2013-14 season, he didn’t play a single game – and was eventually delisted again, going from a top-order batsman to wicketkeeper, moving steadily down the batting order.
“Yeah, that was really hard to take as well, putting 12 months back into cricket to then be delisted again… I was left asking myself again, ‘what do I do?’”
But if there was one thing this Adelaide kid had going for him, it was unfailing determination.
Fortunately, Carey’s sheer commitment and hard work eventually paid off. In 2016, he became the fourth player to record 500 runs with the bat and 50 dismissals as a wicketkeeper in a single Sheffield Shield season, resulting in securing a position on Australia’s National Performance Squad.
Today, we know Carey as an Adelaide Striker and co Vice-Captain of the Australia T20 team, but these runs on the board were only made possible by his gutsy attitude. This approach saw him repeatedly recover from defeat, when most people would have given up.
“I knew it was going to be hard work to get back to playing at a decent level of cricket, to then to get an offer from the Adelaide Strikers was huge. I went back to playing with freedom, to be knocked down and to get back up, all these challenges have built up to something special.”
Watch Alex’s Gutsy story here:
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