IT had looked all over for Brad Haddin.
Clearly Australia's best keeper, the veteran had flown home early from the tour of the West Indies in April, 2012, to be with his young daughter Mia who had been diagnosed with cancer.
His place behind the stumps had been taken by Matthew Wade, who kept the gloves for the Test series last summer and for the tour to India in February and March this year.
But with a leadership vacuum in the side after the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, not to mention Wade's poor form with the bat and gloves, selectors turned back to the man who had averaged 45 in nine previous Ashes Tests.
Now 35, the same age as recalled opener Chris Rogers, Haddin is excited to have been given not only another chance at what he said was the pinnacle for any Australian cricketer, but also to be made skipper Michael Clarke's deputy.
"It's a great honour to be vice-captain, not only of Australia, but in an Ashes campaign," the New South Welshman said.
"There is no more exciting cricket that you play. You can play all the fancy tournaments around the world, but this is it - the whole feeling around an Ashes campaign and everything that comes with it, this is why you want to play."
Speaking ahead of the first Test which starts at Trent Bridge tomorrow night, Haddin said he had never given up hope that he would be given another opportunity to wear the Baggy Green.
"I never thought it was finished for me," he said. "The only worry was whether circumstances would allow me to get back. I never doubted I could return and keep challenging myself to be a better cricketer. If I had I would have walked away from the game."
Not only is the veteran seen as crucial to adding stability to the middle order, he could end up being captain if Clarke's back takes a turn for the worst.
The skipper, who missed all of last month's Champions Trophy tournament in England after a recurrence of his back injury, sat out most of yesterday morning's training session to have treatment with team physio Alex Kountouris.
Rogers, who has had his own back issues, said he expected Clarke to lead the team into battle tomorrow.
"I don't know whether he's 100% or not, I think he's had to manage it," Rogers said.
While Haddin loves playing for Australia, the man who has capably led New South Wales said stepping into the top job was not something he would look forward to in England.
"Captaincy is not something I have ever thought about," he said. "I haven't sat at home hoping I could lead a team. No, I don't like captaining."
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