Port Elizabeth - Wicketkeeper batsman Brad Haddin turns 34 on Sunday, and will be hoping to celebrate more than just his birthday when Australia take on South Africa in the second one-day international (ODI) at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
One up in the three-match series, and hoping to wrap it up on the weekend, Haddin said there were a lot of changes taking place in Australian cricket and the renewed vigour would have a positive effect on the team.
“It's a very exciting time with the Australian team at the moment,” Haddin said during Friday’s training session.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys coming in and they bring a lot of energy and excitement to the squad.
“We think we're just on the brink of doing something special.”
The Australian team has a strong camaraderie among the players and Haddin said they all had the same goals and that they were winning and moving in the right direction.
“Every series we go into, we want to win and every game we play for Australia we play to win,” he said.
“But, what’s equally important is to continue to take small steps forward to becoming a better cricket team.”
The battle had only just begun, however, as Haddin said they were well aware of the task ahead of them and the force of the Proteas’ bowling attack.
“You've just got to look at their (South Africa’s) three pacemen,” he said.
“They've been around a while now and they bowl very well together.
“So we know they're going to be a tough act for us to come up against, but we knew that before we started this tournament.”
Following in the gigantic footsteps of Adam Gilchrist was no easy task for Haddin and, after making his initial ODI debut against Zimbabwe in 2001, it was seven years before he became an established member of the squad.
He saw off any competition and firmly ensconced himself in the team when Gilchrist retired in 2008.
Haddin recently announced his retirement from Twenty20 international cricket, a move he hoped would allow him to focus more on Test and ODI cricket.
“I'm only 28 so I've got a few years left in me yet,” he said in jest about his age, suggesting he still had some time left in the game.
“That's something you guys (media) talk about a lot but, from inside the team, no one really looks at age.
“We've got guys coming in at 18 or 19 now, so once you're in a squad, the age doesn't really come into it.”
With a couple of one-day centuries under his own belt, Haddin said the Australians had performed consistently in the 50-over format and deserved to be the top-ranked side in the ICC ODI rankings.
“We're ranked number one in this form of the game and we've played pretty consistent one-day cricket for a long time now,” he said.
“Obviously it's a big game on Sunday and we know South Africa are a quality team and they'll be up for this game.
“I think the most important thing for us is to just continue to do what we do well and continue to try and get better every time we go out there.”
Only five runs away from being one of a handful of Australian wicketkeeper batsmen to score 2000 runs in Test cricket, Haddin played down the statistic.
“I haven't thought about that as the Tests are still a long way away but, by the sound of it, it's just one good hit,” he joked.
“Seriously, I'll cross that bridge when we come to the Tests. We're obviously here for the one-day series now and it's a massive game for us.
“We're looking forward to it and to see if we can build on what we did the other night.”