Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne December 20, 2012

Wade 'disappointed' with missed chances


Wicketkeepers are like umpires: the less you notice them the better. Just as spectators recall an umpire's howlers and forget the correct decisions, a wicketkeeper is remembered not for his catches, unless they are spectacular, but for his grassed opportunities or missed stumpings. Matthew Wade knows that over the past few weeks, he has been a little more conspicuous than Australia would like - and not just by virtue of unexpectedly bowling an over of medium-pace in Hobart.

As Wade prepares for his first Boxing Day Test, he has tried to put behind him a pair of missed stumpings this summer that have stuck in the minds of onlookers. In Adelaide, Wade gave Graeme Smith a life on 46 when he advanced to the spin of Michael Clarke, and Smith went on to score 122. At Bellerive Oval, he denied Nathan Lyon a wicket when he couldn't grasp the ball cleanly while Nuwan Kulasekara was down the pitch.

The Smith chance was costly, the Kulasekara one not so much. But they were both occasions when Wade couldn't hide from the spotlight that comes with Test cricket, especially having been chosen over Brad Haddin at the start of the summer. Wade said his primary challenge was to maintain concentration over the course of a Test match; unlike the other fielders, who can get away with drifting off mentally every now and then, a wicketkeeper must always be switched on.

"I'm disappointed, I don't need to read what's printed or what's said in the media for me to get disappointed or thinking about my glovework," Wade said at the MCG on Thursday. "You can't miss chances behind the stumps, it's as simple as that. I'm thankful that this [Hobart] one didn't cost us as much as what it probably did in Adelaide. When I wake up in the morning I've got to be looking forward, if I'm looking back all the time I'm not going to be improving at all and stuff like that is going to keep happening.

"It's probably concentration, that's probably what it comes down to. I've definitely done enough technically, I do enough training. That's all I can go back to is finding a way to concentrate for a longer period of time and working on it at training. Every keeper misses chances, I know I'm going to miss chances, but I would like to have a little bit bigger gap in between missed chances than one Test match."

Wade conceded that the pressure of Test cricket had become greater when playing at home, after he made his Test debut in the West Indies earlier this year in a time zone that meant few Australian fans were watching. That certainly won't be the case on Boxing Day, the biggest day in Australia's cricket calendar, and under such pressure he will need to find ways to prevent his mind from drifting away from the task at hand.

"You don't know that you're not concentrating," Wade said. "Once the moment is gone that's when you think 'was I there 100%?' That's the question you keep asking yourself. There's lots of pressure in Test match cricket. I knew that coming in. I suppose it's more than what I thought it was going to be, as in ... home Test matches there's a little bit more pressure on the players.

"It's little things. I get nervous a lot, so I tend to not eat enough during the day. Little things like that, nutrition ... concentration is something you've got to be able to switch on and off. I'm learning every day that I play a Test match how to do that. As long as I can continue to learn and improve things can be right."

Wade spoke to Adam Gilchrist in the lead-up to the Perth Test against South Africa, seeking advice on how best to handle the pressure of Test cricket. Like Wade, Gilchrist took over from an established gloveman, in his case Ian Healy, when he arrived on the international scene. Gilchrist's batting quickly won over critics who wondered if his glovework was of Test standard, and Wade's batting has been encouraging enough to suggest he has the temperament for Test cricket.

A strong performance at his adopted home ground would do Wade's confidence the world of good. Although he grew up in Hobart, Wade has played the vast majority of his state cricket with Victoria, and has been part of 23 Sheffield Shield matches at the MCG - usually in front of near-empty stands that make the cavernous ground feel like a completely different venue to the one that appears for Boxing Day Tests or AFL grand finals. It will make Wade's 25th birthday a very special one.

"It's my birthday as well, on Boxing Day, to cap it all off," Wade said. "I didn't think a few years ago I'd be driving in to the MCG on my birthday to play a Boxing Day Test. I thought I'd probably still be down in Lauderdale having a couple of beers with my mates watching the Test match. It's all going to come true Boxing Day morning."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Philip on December 23, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    @featurewriter is correct. I believe Hartley is sorely under-rated. Ludeman has the potential, I think, to be the best gloveman in the country (opportunities in SA where Darren Berry coaches have certainly helped, for he's improved considerably since leaving Melbourne). So, although Wade could certainly improve with time, I'd go for someone who is closer to the required mark. As for comparing against Gilchrist, a keeper's batting is something which has been considered for over a hundred years. Even Bert Oldfield was seen as a better bat (6 FC centuries) than the younger Chilla Walker (no FC tons). Their glovework was probably on a par - the result though was two tours for Walker but no tests before his untimely death in the Second World War. Oldfield had been a little luckier - he was near death when rescued in WWI before going on to play over 50 Tests. So, batting mattering is nothing new. It's just how much & maybe comparison with Gillie is expecting too much, as @featurewriter says.

  • Rajaram on December 22, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Both Brydon Coverdale and Mathew Wade have conveniently (?) omitted the MAJOR goof -up in Mathew Wade's wicket -keeping in the seconfd innings of south Africa'a Adelaide Test.Mathew Wade HAD NO BUSINESS to STAND UP CLOSE TO THE STIUMPS to Ben Hilfenhaus' FAST bowling,because of which he dropped a SIMPLE CATCH off Faf du Plessis in the 116th over,when South Africa were 5 / 212. Had he caught it,we would have won the Adelaide Test. Faf du Plessis went on to score a century and saved the match for South Africa.ABSOLUTELY UNPARDONABLE JUDGEMENT by Wade.

  • gnanavelu on December 22, 2012, 3:11 GMT

    @wellrounded no one is dissing sl,i believe. I accept sl has world class players in sanga and mahela. Herath is a good spinner. Dilshan is in form. Other 7 are all average street cricket stuff

  • associate cricket fan on December 22, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    @gnanzcupid u said its a shame to lose a series to countries like Eng at home. But u just lost the test series to Eng at home and we have drawn the series against them. can u tell me wats wrong with losing a test match to NZ? Are they minnows?

  • Rich on December 22, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    Honesty Wade isn't as good as Prior, but he's got potential. Prior goes in and consistently scores 60-70 with a high strike rate. Wade's yet to establish himself at that position.

  • Dale on December 21, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Not sure why everyone is dissing SL so much. They are a quality side. Sure their attack is a little stagnant with no real fast bowlers but they get their lines and lengths right consistently and bowl pretty well. They have a world class batting lineup with Thiriman Jayawardene and Sangakarra in the side. And not to mention Angelo Matthews. These are all players most sides would love to have in their team. Also Herath is leading wicket taker this year ahead of Ajmal, Steyn, Philander, Anderson, Swann and Siddle. They are a good side they're just struglling to put 5 good days of cricket together consistently at the moment but when they do they will start winning series regularly

  • Mashuq on December 21, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    Good luck with getting the knack of concentrating as wk but the challenges in the Caribbean were nothing compared to what you're going to face in India and England! If I could pick a new keeper it would have to be a right-hander given the number of lefties in the Aus top 6. Paine and Neville suggest themselves but one is no longer keeping and the other's batting has slipped this season. But I'm not keen on going back to Haddin for obvious reasons, no matter how much MC would appreciate his advice, mentoring of youngsters, etc. But Wade has to improve as a keeper - we can't have a Kamran Akmal missing vital chances, but scoring valuable runs. Agree @featurewriter but Hartley has as much chance of playing for Aus as Copeland has of being picked again.

  • Graham on December 21, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    Whizzer801 - Wade got picked when both Haddin and Paine were unavailable and did a great job in the west indies thus keeping his spot. Haddin has never been the best gloveman, Paine was but hasnt played enough good cricket since coming back from his two years of injury.

  • rob on December 21, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @ the Prior guys,

    Early in his late starting Test career Gilchrist carved up Waquar, Wasim and a young and lightning fast Akhtar with Saqlain providing the spin. He put on a double ton stand with Langer of which he supplied 149 no. It was the fourth innings and we were 5 for not many chasing 300+ and it was at Hobart on a pitch that was worse than the one that the last test was on. In two and a bit sessions he pretty much single handedly blasted us to an incredible victory. .. over the years he did it time and time again. .. Prior may be good, but is he really THAT good?

  • Ayush on December 21, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    @hatsforBats awesome answer, but in @mikey's defence, maybe he recently started watching cricket...u can hear all you want, you believe what you see...

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