BRAD HADDIN may no longer be Australia's No.1 wicketkeeper, but the veteran delivered national selectors another reminder on Tuesday why he is far from a spent force.
The 35-year-old still figures prominently in Matthew Wade's rearview mirror after crunching an at times belligerent 108 not out that rescued NSW from a precarious position against Victoria at the SCG.
While Haddin's second first-class ton of the summer, which required some assistance from No.11 Doug Bollinger, is unlikely to be enough to unseat Wade in the short term, it keeps him in the picture for next year's Test tours of India and England. Haddin's contribution, along with a fine 78 from youngster Scott Henry, was the main reason NSW shared the honours on the opening day against an undermanned Victorian team. On a lifeless track offering little assistance to bat or ball, the Blues made 293. In reply, the Vics were 0-12 at stumps.
Although Haddin's ton came against a significantly weakened Victorian attack, missing Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Clint McKay and Andrew McDonald, it was made under high pressure. Batting at No.6, Haddin arrived at the crease with his team teetering at 4-117 but when he left the Blues had compiled a score they could be confident of defending.
Haddin was watchful early in his innings before tea but he opened his shoulders after the interval and launched a fine counter-attack. His last 82 runs came at a run a ball. He shared a vital 57-run stand with Moises Henriques then added 49 with skipper Steve O'Keefe.
Haddin was given two chances, both by Jayde Herrick. The first came on 43 when he unleashed a blistering straight drive that was too hot for Herrick to take in his follow through. The second came late in his innings on 107 when Herrick failed to hold a chance in the deep as Haddin was chasing quick runs.
The gloveman was on 79 when O'Keefe and Mitchell Starc fell in successive balls to spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and had reached 92 by the time Bollinger strode to the crease. Bollinger defied his lowly status with the bat to see Haddin to his century.
The Blues' other star for the day was opener Henry, who made his maiden first-class half-century. The 23-year-old provided a near lone hand at the top of the order. Steve Smith made a promising 30 but middled a cut shot to Maxwell, who held a sharp chance to his left at point. Henriques was also set, on 20, when he was deceived by some late movement from John Hastings and caught at gully.