Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney December 31, 2012

Wade set for promotion to No.6


Matthew Wade is confident he can do the No.6 position justice in the Sydney Test after the captain Michael Clarke declared Wade would likely move up in the absence of Shane Watson. Usman Khawaja is on standby for Clarke, who is still carrying a hamstring niggle, but is not expected to replace the injured Watson, with the allrounder Glenn Maxwell more likely to take Watson's place.

Clarke said after the Melbourne Test that if Maxwell played he would most probably bat at No.7, with Wade to shift up to six and Clarke and the retiring Michael Hussey also moving up the list to Nos.4 and 5 respectively. That means extra responsibility for Wade, who has scored a hundred and two half-centuries during his eight-Test career, but he said his experience in the top six for Victoria would hold him in good stead.

"I'd be comfortable moving up to No.6 if that's what the team needed me to do to win a Test match," Wade said in Sydney on Monday. "I've been lucky enough to bat at six for Victoria for a couple of years now. In terms of impact on keeping, it doesn't make too much of a difference coming one up the order. I'm happy to bat at six if the team needs me, or stay at seven."

Traditionally, No.7 has been the position occupied by Australian wicketkeepers. Even the great Adam Gilchrist only batted at No.6 on 14 occasions in his Test career, while Wade's predecessor Brad Haddin filled the role seven times. Gilchrist had success in the No.6 spot, scoring 645 Test runs at 49.61 including two centuries, but Haddin managed only 126 runs at an average of 18.

But more often than not, Gilchrist had the luxury of coming in with plenty of runs already on the board. Australia's average four-down total when Gilchrist came to the crease as a Test No.6 was 223; for Haddin, the average was 110. Given the lack of experience in Australia's batting line-up, Wade shouldn't be surprised if he walks out with relatively few runs on the board, but he does not believe he will be under any extra pressure.

"My personal expectation if I'm at six or seven is to contribute runs to the team," Wade said. "Personally that doesn't change for me. Maybe outside expectation is that the No.6 needs to get a little bit more runs, but I'm trying to get runs every time I bat.

"I'll bat exactly the same. If I get the opportunity to bat at six, I'm guessing Pup will talk to me a couple of days out and he'll just want me to bat the same but in the No.6 position. I wouldn't be changing my game plan at all."

Wade, 25, has proven himself a consistent scorer at first-class level during a career spanning six seasons. After 92 first-class innings, Wade has scored 3055 runs at 40.19, very similar figures to those of Gilchrist at the same stage of his career. After 92 first-class innings, Gilchrist had made 3080 runs at 41.06, while Haddin had 2971 runs at 35.79.

Whether a move up the order could become permanent after Hussey's retirement remains to be seen, but if Watson chooses to give up bowling such a change would allow Australia to pick an extra bowling allrounder for each Test. Regardless of where he bats, Wade's role in the coming months is likely to include greater leadership, for the absence of Hussey and Ricky Ponting has left the Australian line-up lacking experience.

Over the past year, Wade has become a permanent presence in the Australian line-up in all three formats and only David Warner, who hasn't missed a match, has represented Australia more times in the past 12 months than Wade, who has played 46 of a possible 49 games. In that time, the only matches he didn't play were during last summer's Test series against India, when Haddin remained the first-choice gloveman.

Wade's heavy workload could mean he is asked by the selectors to rest during the upcoming ODIs or Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka or West Indies, especially with a big year coming up, including a four-Test tour of India and two Ashes series. Wade said he was not keen to take a break but would do so if the selectors insisted.

"I don't want to stop playing cricket for Australia, not at all," Wade said. "But I don't think that will be my decision, that will be a decision that will be made higher up, if I am going to rest any games. I want to play every game that I can for Australia, but I fully understand where the people are coming from above.

"Going forward with how much cricket we are playing, the rest of the fast bowlers and if I end up having a rest, it will be beneficial down the track. But at the time, no cricketer wants to rest. I'm not expecting it, but if it comes along I've got to be open to that discussion."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on January 2, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    On Ffirst class averages Maxwell is as good a batsman as Watson. I'm not clear why Maxwell's batting at 7 but I don't think it's because he's bad at it. Australia is more likely to miss Watson's bowling than his batting.

  • Tony on January 1, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    The phrase laughing stock was not aimed at the Aus team rather the frankly bizarre selections over the last 6 months... Wade @6 Maxwell!!!, Starc rested after a handful of games, Hastings!!!!!!!! Hughes reselection but not agasinst SA and the continuing bizarre selection of an incredibly average Ben Hilfenhaus. I think Aus have done very well considering these strange selections

  • Nathan on January 1, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    lol I know I shouldn't feed the trolls but really, front-foot-fool, the aim of trolling actually isn't to make oneself look idiotic, despite what you seem to think. England dominated one series v Aus, the last one. And Aus last held the Ashes until 2009. So ... ummm .... how can anyone with mathematical abilities beyond that of a five year old think that this equates to 'over five years dominating'? I know the trend now seems to be for everyone to go over the top and carry on with ridiculous comments, but even in that context, fff is truly a 'special' commenter ...

  • Nathan on January 1, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    @chicagoan76 - quite frankly, that's ridiculous. Do you have any evidence for your assertions? Of course not, I'm quite sure you cannot read minds so please don't present opinions as fact. The FACTS are that Khawaja HAS had chances, and he's failed to grasp them. That's not Ponting, Clarke, Inverarity, or anyone else's fault other than Khawaja's. As for the Hughes/Khawaja comparison ... one guy has several test tons and shown that, while there may have been technique issues, he can make big scores against top class bowlers in decent time. Khawaja has shown none of that at test level. And his fielding is not 'much better' than anyone. Why don't you just come out and call the selectors and Australian cricket's hierarchy racists, since that seems to be what you're angling at, without having the guts to say it outright.

  • disco on January 1, 2013, 7:07 GMT

    @ jkidst, you've got two excellent spinners, that made it easier for Cook, his captaincy had nothing to do with that. In the same way that Ponting was disparaged because he had McGrath and Warne to make it easy for him. What I'm getting at is that, OK, he's showing the way with the bat, that's a minimum but Clarke has shown that modern captaincy is more than that. But then again with a young squad Clarke needs to be innovative. Let's see how Cooke reacts when it's all going pear shaped.

  • disco on January 1, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (January 01 2013, 00:33 AM GMT), no I don't call either of those serious pressure. In a sense he failed badly by not backing Panesar for the 1st Test. He just hasn't been in enough intricate home situations to be properly tested yet. This is why the upcoming b2b Ashes will be so fascinating. I'm not suggesting that Cook will fare badly, quite the opposite in fact and he did get the best out of KP when it mattered.

  • Graham on January 1, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    Ross Hambling - I am a fan of Khawaja and pretty sure he will be playing test cricket in India (replacing Hussey). I think the selectors are checking there all-rounder options for India. I am just saying that he hasnt done everything possible to guarantee him a spot and those saying Hughes is a Clarke man well Hughes has performed better than Khawaja in shield cricket. However outside Hughes Im not sure there is anyone that deserves there place before Khawaja (Maxwell is just a check of the allround options).

  • John on January 1, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    @featurewriter on (December 31 2012, 22:58 PM GMT), I'm guessing that Sangakarra's keeping has dropped off a bit lately because he's not been putting in the hours he was when doing the job full-time. That said, he would never have been the world's best keeper. I agree that many fans in particular, but also selectors to a degree, judge a keeper-batsman more on the batting aspect than the keeping. It's as though if two players can both keep at all and one is a better batsman then he's adjudged the best keeper-batsman. It's more prevalent now but this has been going on for quite some time. I remember when Wayne Phillips from SA getting the gloves for the Australia Test team over Ray Phillips from Qld even though the Queenslander was obviously the better keeper.

  • Marty on January 1, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Replacing Ponting and Hussey in the squad is important from a cultural and experience point of view. If the following three guys toured with the team in India and The Ashes they are very handy back ups to injury and would be geat dressing room soundboards. Marcus North, Cameron White and Brad Haddin. All captain's of their various states.I am not saying put them in the first X1 but have them around the younger blokes.

  • Peterincanada on January 1, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    The selection of Maxwell makes no sense. They are replacing a #4 with a #7. Number 7 is a spot for a bowler or wicket keeper. But Maxwell is not a test bowler. Just another stupid selection of a bits and pieces player who is not good enough at either discipline.