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December 21, 2012
Michael Clarke has declared his intention to give Matthew Wade further opportunities to bowl in Test cricket after he delivered an over of medium-pace against Sri Lanka in Hobart. Even by Clarke's adventurous standards, his decision to introduce Wade into the attack as Australia searched for wickets on the final day was a surprise one, especially given that Wade had never before delivered a ball in first-class cricket.
However, Wade was sharper than many people expected, and clocked up to 132kph on the speed gun as he sent down a maiden over just before the tea break. Clarke had been impressed by the way Wade had bowled in the nets during training and although he did not take a wicket, nor did he disgrace himself, and in his column in News Ltd newspapers on Friday, Clarke indicated that he would not hesitate to use Wade again.
"He bowled with good pace. There are some opening bowlers around the world who struggle to reach the 132kph Matt generated," Clarke wrote. "We're going to see more of Matthew Wade bowling in Test cricket, that's for sure. The only thing we have to figure out now is who will take the gloves, Phil Hughes, who did it last Tuesday, or Dave Warner?
"Matt got me out a couple of times in the nets and got himself an over in Test cricket. It won't be his last. He loves his bowling. And it reinforces my belief since I've been captain that it doesn't matter how we get 20 wickets or who takes them to win the Test. If Matt gets some of those or Mike Hussey or Dave Warner then great. It's like making runs. The tail makes important runs for the team, so every now and then the batters are going to have to chip in to help the bowlers."
Australia's bowling stocks were especially thin during the second innings at Bellerive Oval, where Ben Hilfenhaus was unavailable due to a side injury and Clarke's hamstring problem meant his part-time spin was also out of the equation. That allowed Clarke to try something different and while it didn't work on this occasion, unusual and successful bowling changes have been a hallmark of his captaincy.
In 19 Tests under Clarke's leadership, Michael Hussey's gentle medium-pace has resulted in five wickets, compared to two wickets in the 58 Tests Hussey played before Clarke became captain. David Warner's legspin has also brought four victims during Clarke's tenure, and in the series against South Africa Clarke turned to Ricky Ponting and Rob Quiney for overs of medium-pace.
Wade said he was "spewing" that he hadn't picked up a wicket in his one and only over, and while he wasn't expecting to become a regular Test bowler, he would be happy to roll his arm over again if required. He said given his short stature he was only likely to be used on skiddy pitches where batsmen might be troubled by the ball staying low.
"I would like to," Wade said. "The wicket was very up-and-down and I'm not the most gifted in the height department, so I think [Clarke] was just hoping I would get one to run along the ground. We're off to India [next year], I'll keep practising in the nets and hopefully he throws me the ball."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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