Adelaide: Understudy Brad Haddin is widely regarded by former cricketers as the most likely replacement for retiring Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
Gilchrist, 36, the veteran of 96 Tests, announced on Saturday he will hang up his gloves at the end of next month's triangular series with India and Sri Lanka, after becoming the record holder for most Test dismissals with 414.
Haddin, a dashing wicketkeeper-batsman in a similar mould to Gilchrist, who hails from the eastern state of NSW, has been his understudy in recent years.
Haddin, who was among the players Gilchrist telephoned after making his decision, and is a former Australian under-19 captain, has played 26 one-day internationals for Australia.
A member of Australia's World Cup winning squad in 2007, the right-hander debuted for Australia in limited-overs cricket in 2001 and has scored 693 runs in those matches at 31.50, and completed 35 dismissals.
Although youngsters Luke Ronchi, from Western Australia, Tim Payne (Tasmania) and Chris Hartley (Queensland) have their supporters, the 30-year-old Haddin seems certain to finally get his chance at Test level.
Gilchrist's predecessor, Ian Healy, said here Sunday that Australia was blessed to have a player like Haddin to call upon.
"We are very lucky with wicketkeeping, we have got as close to Gilly as there is in Brad Haddin," he said.
"Haddin is the closest in world cricket to being able to emulate Gilchrist."
Taking over from the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman the game has seen will be daunting, but Haddin has been in fine form for NSW this season, averaging 60.80 in first-class cricket.
Former Australian wicketkeeper Steve Rixon told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that Haddin would fill the Gilchrist void comfortably.
"He has been ready for two years to take the next step," Rixon said.
"The Test side will not lose a thing with Brad there, he's still young enough and certainly has the skills and the right attitude.
"He has worked hard for this and he thoroughly deserves the chance to prove himself."
Former Australian captain Kim Hughes also endorsed Haddin.
"He deserves his chance, he has done well every time he has replaced Gilly," he said. "He's a very good cricketer and he's not as good as Gilly, but then no-one is."
Former West Australian coach and Test bowler Wayne Clark said the younger wicketkeepers in Australia were not yet ready to take on the role.
"Haddin will slot straight in," he said.
"No-one else is consistent enough and he's proven himself at that level.
"He's done well when called up and deserves his chance in Test cricket."
Australia is scheduled to tour Pakistan in March-April, although that tour remains in doubt, and then the West Indies in May-July.