Alex Carey has Jon Holland nightmares, rubber mats and ignoring his wife to thank for his early success in Sri Lanka.
Which even Australia’s wicketkeeper must know that in any normal world, would not be a good combination.
But when it comes to the spinning wickets of Galle, it’s a cocktail that somehow just works.
Carey perhaps best summed up Australia’s first Test victory.
The South Australian out-kept his opposite number Niroshan Dickwella in difficult conditions, seizing five catches for the match on a big-turning wicket.
Then with the bat, he embraced Australia’s willingness to be unorthodox as he swept or reverse-swept his first 12 balls and 29 of his 45 runs came from the shots.
It is something that comes natural to Carey, and he plans to employ again in the second Test starting Friday.
Spun out by Holland in six of eight innings against Victoria in 2015-16 and 2016-17, Carey knew something needed to change.
“I learned five or six years ago my method didn’t work and I needed to adapt,” Carey said.
“You have some failures against Jon Holland sitting on the crease, you have to go away from it.
“It’s all about trusting what you think works for you.
“I tend to sweep spin no matter where it is. Batting at No.7 … you get a good understanding what is happening in the game.”
Despite traditionally orthodox coaching methods in Australia, Carey said he only had one person close to him criticising the tactic.
“My wife (Eloise) is the harshest critic of the reverse,” he said.
“She says ‘don’t play the bloody reverse sweep, not again’.
“But I just politely tell her ‘you haven’t played the game’.
“Yes, you’re going to get out to reverse sweeps and sweeps. … But it can also produce some success as well.”
Carey has taken the same approach to his keeping, getting an immediate picture of how difficult it would be after Nathan Lyon’s first ball in Galle ripped up and hit his helmet.
After working with Tim Nielsen on indoor rubber spin nets in Adelaide before leaving for Sri Lanka, the ‘keeper is accepting of the fact chances will be missed and he must stay in the moment.
“All you can do is understand the conditions as quick as possible. Getting one between the eyes early woke me up a little bit,” Carey said.
“You can’t control what the ball does.
“It’s about staying in that one ball when the wicket is spinning.
“Reacting well enough to one that goes big and having a steady base for the one that skids on.
“More time behind the stumps to (the spinners) is also great preparation. I know it is in competition, but the more you do it the more you understand as well.”