Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day

Wade vindicates his promotion

Matthew Wade's century in Sydney showed that he has the fighting instincts and batting power to add tungsten to the Australian middle order at a time when there is brittleness elsewhere

Daniel Brettig at the SCG

January 5, 2012

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

Matthew Wade is airborne after reaching his century, Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2013
Matthew Wade's was a performance to hearten Australia, expert in its rhythm and decisive in its execution © Getty Images
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On Test match eve, Michael Clarke was posed an earnest question: having reclassified Mitchell Johnson as an allrounder, was Australia's captain giving any thought to promoting him to No. 6, ahead of Matthew Wade? Generally Clarke will give any question its due, even if most of his answers tend to be towards the safe side. This time, though, his response was pointedly dismissive.

"He won't be batting No. 6 ahead of Wade," Clarke said. "He is a genuine top-order batsman, Matthew Wade. It's just that he keeps, so batting at six or seven gives him more time to recover. He has been hitting the ball really well [though] hasn't made a big score for a while, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see him walk out and make a hundred in this Test match."

Emphatic as those words were, they paled next to the actions with which Wade vindicated his middle-order posting on the third morning at the SCG. In guiding the tail through the morning and making a joyous century, Wade set Australia up for a much improved third-day performance in which Sri Lanka were hurried towards defeat. There is even a case to be made that Australia's wicketkeeper should be considered for a higher commission than No. 6. At the very least, he should be acknowledged as Australia's best allrounder - more reliable than Johnson, more durable than Shane Watson.

As he did in Dominica last April, guiding Australia out of awkward circumstances with another compelling century, Wade arrived at the wicket at a moment on the second evening when the game was slipping from his team's grasp. He was cautious early on, even a little uncertain, as he tried to get acquainted with the turning ball. The early passages of a Wade innings can appear hesitant, almost apologetic, for he commits time to establishing himself deliberately, not manoeuvring the ball around with the alacrity of Michael Hussey.

But there is invariably a moment in Wade's innings when he clicks up several gears, going from a posture of reacting to the circumstances to an altogether more assertive one where his intent is to set the tone for proceedings. In Dominica, that moment had been when he passed 50. Earlier this summer against South Africa in Brisbane, Wade stodged his way to two from 23 balls, before cracking a straight drive that nearly took the head off Rory Kleinveldt, then cutting him to the boundary next ball. Wade plays himself in carefully, but having done so he feels free to unleash.

A special day for Wade

  • Matthew Wade's century had added significance on Jane McGrath Day at the Sydney Test. With the ground decked out in pink to raise awareness and funds for cancer sufferers, Wade felt proud to have made a batting contribution given he had fought testicular cancer himself as a teenager.
  • "It was an amazing feeling," he said. "Driving to the ground today, I didn't think that would happen. To do it on a day like today with the McGrath Foundation day it was something special. I will never forget it. As a young kid growing up watching cricket, the last few years watching this Test match on day three, the pink day for the McGrath foundation - it was a special day for me.
  • "I was really keen to make a good score in this last Test match. I felt like I've been building towards something since the WACA game probably [against South Africa]. I feel like I've been flirting with my form a little bit with the bat, so it's nice to get a score I'm happy with.
  • "We didn't bowl the best we've bowled throughout the summer, but credit to the boys - when we sat down at tea and had a think about it, we took six wickets. It could've gone the wrong way for us this afternoon, but our bowlers are good enough and we fielded very well to pull it back."

In Sydney the point at which Wade declared his intent sticks in the memory not so much for the runs that were gathered as for the pain that was inflicted. On 22 he had endured a torturous period in which he was given out caught behind and escaped via DRS - which spotted a no-ball in addition to the absence of an edge. Next he was dropped at short leg, and finally given out caught at bat pad off Rangana Herath's bowling - this dismissal was also overturned via the DRS, but it was clear that a change in approach was required.

In the same over Wade responded to a pair of similarly pitched deliveries from Herath by sweeping with a great deal of venom. Twice he knelt down to play the shot, twice he connected sweetly, and twice Dimuth Karunaratne was sent hopping around the infield after being struck stinging blows to the body. From this over Wade was far more committed in his intentions and went to stumps well set on 47.

A series of indifferent strokes and questionable judgements by the other batsmen had left Wade with only the tail for company on the third morning, and his innings resumed in a collected manner. Again he followed the pattern of the evening before, gathering himself and reading the circumstances before going on the offensive. This time the loss of wickets forced Wade into greater aggression, but when he chose to attack after the arrival of the last man Jackson Bird he did so with breathtaking precision and power, going from 70 to 101 in 18 blistering balls.

Nuwan Pradeep felt the brunt, as Wade bisected the two men roaming the offside boundary early in an over, before taking advantage of the field coming up to stop the single by cuffing behind point for another. On a pitch Phillip Hughes had described as difficult to drive on, Wade's timing was beyond compare, pinging further boundaries to cover and wide long off. He saved his best for the shot that took him from 97 to 101, gliding with power to the square side of deep cover and racing in ebullient celebration towards the dressing room.

Given that this will be the last match in which Michael Hussey takes a place in the middle order, it was a performance to hearten Australia, expert in its rhythm and decisive in its execution. Wade's wicketkeeping has a little further to go, particularly on the higher bouncing surfaces of Australia, but his fighting instincts and batting power to give them full vent offer tungsten to the middle order at a time when there is brittleness elsewhere.

As for where Wade might bat in the future, it is worth remembering another line from Clarke, which he uttered in the wake of the Dominica innings. "I think if he plays the way he's been playing," Clarke had said, "there's no doubt he could play as a batsman." Those words ring truer now than ever.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (January 6, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

@ygkd: some highly illuminating & incisive insights about the history of Aussie keeping there. Totally agree about Chandimal, too: he oozed class as a batsman during the ODI leg of Sri Lanka's 2011 England tour, made two hugely impressive fifties in a famous Sri Lankan win in his Test debut at Durban in 2011-12, added another against Pakistan last July, already has a Test batting average of 40 & a FC average of 55 (with 27 plus-50 scores in 65 innings), is a demonstrably fine keeper to boot, yet, mystifyingly, cannot command a regular place in a deeply fallible Sri Lankan batting line-up.

Anyway, back to the Aussie keeping conundrum. Wade, in the batting form of his life, has now been 'rested' for the first two ODIs, thus providing a golden opportunity for the excellent Tim Paine (no mean batsman himself) to have a go with the gloves. But wait. Whose name is that I see on the team-sheet instead: surely not that of the modern-day Iron Gloves himself, Brad Haddin? Utterly beyond satire.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 6, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

It's worth remembering that Wade was dropped twice on his way to this century. Obviously many a good innings has been played after being dropped, so I'm not picking on Wade specifically but, if either of those chances had been held then this story would never have been written and, in fact, some people may have been writing specifically that Wade had failed to justify his promotion. It's often a fine line between success and failure for a batsman because it only takes one ball to get out. Sometimes a good batsman gets out early and we say they did badly but if they had been lucky enough to get past that one ball they may have gone on to get a hundred. That's what a lot of people fail to recognise when they complain about bowlers getting dropped more easily than batsmen. If a bowler performs poorly in a game then they have done so over a number of overs. If a batsman performs poorly in a game then he has really only done so for two balls.

Posted by ygkd on (January 6, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

I remember old "Iron Gloves" quite well, presuming that it is Marsh that is meant, not Jones or Kamran or any of the many others who have been so described, for keepers do struggle at times, especially early in their careers. But there's struggling and there's really struggling...

Posted by   on (January 6, 2013, 2:34 GMT)

It's funny, I'm old enough to remember a young Australian keeper get tagged with the nickname "Iron Gloves" early in his career.

Go look him up, he had a fairly respectable career.

Posted by ygkd on (January 6, 2013, 0:08 GMT)

Oops.. said lower than seven when obviously I meant higher. Also, what does Tim Paine have to do now that he's been overlooked for the ODIs?

Posted by landl47 on (January 5, 2013, 23:33 GMT)

I'm with OzWally- as good as Wade was with the bat, he wasn't good enough standing up as a keeper. This might not matter too much in Australia or England (though I'm sure Lyon would disagree) but in India it's vital that the best keeper plays. The best Australian keeper I've seen out of the present crop is Paine. If Wade's good enough to bat in the top 6, then play him as a batsman, but don't pick him as a keeper in India unless he really is the best keeper. England has picked Bairstow as a batsman, but he's not a good enough keeper to displace Prior. Australia needs to make a similar decision.

Posted by splitvocal on (January 5, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

maybe all these other players arent in the team because they arent friends with clarke!! we all know from the past doesnt matter how good or what form your in if you not nice to clarke you cant be in his team! katich for instance

Posted by ygkd on (January 5, 2013, 21:33 GMT)

I recall reading that Dinesh Chandimal struggled with the bat at U19 level and below and thus relied heavily on his keeping. He now, at the tender age of 23, looks like a right-handed Sangakkara, with a FC batting average well over 50 and a more-than-respectable keeping technique to spin. As such, I believe he is fortunate he is not Australian, as late developers are not afforded such time here. I would like to be wrong about that, because wicket-keepers are not made overnight. Gilchrist started about the age of nine. Healy started at a similar young age. And they both worked intensively at their technique up at the stumps, fitting it in with their batting. The proof was in in the pudding. The best FC keeper currently in the land said a few years ago that he believed child keepers, if they could bat, should concentrate most on their glovework. Their batting would improve with age. I wasn't sure about it then but I believe it now. There lies the difference between Wade & Chandimal.

Posted by ygkd on (January 5, 2013, 21:06 GMT)

If Matthew Wade is to bat lower than seven, surely it must be as Michael Hussey's replacement (and therefore all must surely acknowledge a chasm of class between the two). To continue using Wade as a keeper is to risk him being seen as the worst gloveman in a baggy green since.... well, since no one in the last forty years. I have said for a long time that ability to take a catch standing back to pacemen and ability to work neatly up at the stumps are of completely different orders of magnitude. Wade has the lowest Sheffield Shield stumping percentage of any keeper with more than 150 Shield dismissals. Victoria rely on pace. Sending Wade back to SS will not remedy his technical flaws to spin. Even the Channel Nine commentary box is starting to open up about these flaws and they are hardly known for heavy-handed criticism of current Australian players. It is time to bring in a better keeper and play Wade as a batsman, if needs be. The contrast to the younger Dinesh Chandimal is stark.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (January 5, 2013, 20:48 GMT)

@Si Baker,

I wouldn't call it a spectacular success. SL have essentially put on 300 runs in both innings despite having a depleted line up and their best player out. We also only barely managed to get over 400 despite the sub par attack we were faced with. I think 7 batsmen is a better option. In inda we will struggle, Lyon is a solid chip in spinner but hardly a game winner, and we really don't have much else to choose from. Hopefully Warner and Clarke can offer something as part timers

Posted by Beertjie on (January 5, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

Agree atm @dessertfox that he shouldn't bat at 6. I'd go further and say I'd rather have Paine as soon as he returns to batting form (also because he's a rhb). But Wade COULD keep and bat at 6 (just as Maxwell could play as an all-rounder at 7), just not now. When the batting re-solidifies in the future and Maxwell and Marsh develop into the kind of all rounders who deserve to be chosen for both their skills, then Wade might be considered. With all the flux around the Aus team, considering Wade to play as a bat is just reflective of confusion. Let him improve his keeping first so he can stay in the side and pick specialists on the basis of their proven FC achievements. When a good leggie develops Wade's task as wk may be beyond him but atm even a miss in India against a spinner (what spinner? FFL asks) may be costly so be warned Ozfans. Maybe that's the real point of DB's article?

Posted by Peterincanada on (January 5, 2013, 17:28 GMT)

@vishnu27 If Anderson goes down we will probably fill in with some South African quick who can't make the A-team but has a second cousin born in England.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (January 5, 2013, 16:32 GMT)

Rahul_Ashok I seriously hope you're right mate, re: Bresnan & Broad still being in the England make-up come Ashes time. Nothing would warm my heart more than seeing those two lobbing up their pies. The fact they can still get an England game shows the tenuous threadbare status of pace bowling over there. Deary me, if Jimmy was to go down... but then there's always Finn & Meaker...

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (January 5, 2013, 16:23 GMT)

Top innings from Wade at a key moment of the match. There is something that is hauntingly familiar about the ongoing development of this new bunch of Aus cricketers that echoes back through many, many decades of Aus cricket. Most satisfying to see the English trolls advertise their sense of alarm.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (January 5, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge: "a natural keeper" like Prior & the previous keeper you lot had for any length of time, the lad from PNG/Wales/Queensland? Hardly "natural keepers" as you call them. Jones was a thoroughbreed shocker with the gloves & Prior has had to do massive amounts of remedial glove & batting work to finally consolidate his place as England's keeper.Your unabated diatribe towards Australia strikes me as desperate concern that Ashes are anything but a foregone conclusion for England. If Australia are the rabble you constantly make them out to be, why the feverish trolling? Just nip down to your local betting agency & put your house on an England win. @SamRoy: the worst keeper in international cricket by a massive stretch is the horridly fluffable MS Dhoni. He can't even catch straight ones.

Posted by OzWally on (January 5, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

I would have thought Wade's innings today would have given him more confidence with the gloves, but not so. Very ordinary behind the stumps and if he struggles keeping to Lyon at home, I sure hope Paine is the touring party for India. You may see both in the team at some stage. Paine keeping and Wade filling in for a Watson injury or top order player out of form.

Posted by stormy16 on (January 5, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

Yep Wade played a sensational hand in my books turned the game in Aus favour but Aus will be ill advided to play the 6/5 combo. SL played reasonably poorly in this game but with a quailty team, I think Aus need to play 7 batters with Wade at 7. Wade's keeping to Lyon has been poor and will be a factor in India but for the Ashes in Eng and Aus, guess its not a huge issue.

Posted by rohanbala on (January 5, 2013, 15:02 GMT)

Wade's innings at the SCG has effectively put the lid on the come back plans of Brad Haddin. Hope Mathew Wade will continue the good work both as an efficient keeper and a dependable batsman.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 5, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

@ Okakaboka, Teaching Wade to Keep would be like re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic - Clearly not a natural keeper, so why waste time on him instead of giving the gloves to someone who can keep? This will only further stifle Australia's cricketing growth and continue their slide. The void they have in test-level batsmen laid bare by Hussey's departure is still not as bad as having Lyon in the team, who is really a seam bowler pretending to be a spinner.

Posted by Okakaboka on (January 5, 2013, 12:59 GMT)

What a lot of you Wade knockers are not considering is that Wade's keeping stuff-ups have nearly all been linked to spin.....with Wade up at the Stumps. His keeping to the quicks is way better than Haddin's who used to drop sitters (Siddle, Harris and Pattinson all suffered). He is also way better in the way of byes conceded when compared to Haddin. Yes, his keeping to spin has to improve. The obvious solution is to get him mentored by Darren Berry. However, our strength lies in our fast bowling attack..... this is where the keeping has to be of a high standard and it has been.

Posted by   on (January 5, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

Wade's only going to get better as both a keeper & a batsman. He already bats with such finesse that he could easily slot in at Six on a permanent basis, allowing Oz the luxury of exploiting their main strength by fielding four seamers in each game outside the subcontinent, where they could deploy three seamers & two specialist spinners instead. If they're to stand any hope against India, playing two bona fide spinners is an absolute must. With Wade at Six & O'Keefe - as the second spinner - Johnson/Starc, Siddle, Bird & Lyon to follow, they'd be guaranteed plenty of lower-order runs against India's misfiring popgun attack. Why would you abandon an experiment that's proved such a spectacular success in its very first phase?

Posted by Slysta on (January 5, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

Get used to Wade at 6, guys. Bottom line: we need 5 viable bowlers to win Test matches, as Adelaide and Hobart (nearly) showed. Watson is critical for balance, and when he is not fit, the attack will need to be rebalanced as in this match. Which unfortunately means Johnson, as we don't have any other viable no. 7s yet (although I still hope Pattinson might become one eventually). But agree with others (and English trolls), Wade's keeping to Lyon this summer has not been Test standard, which is OK in Australia where the quicks will always do a lot of work and take a lot of wickets, but if he doesn't improve in India, he won't have to worry about the Ashes, because Paine will be back in by then.

Posted by whensdrinks on (January 5, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

Very good batting display, but a poor exhibition behind the stumps. He has cost Lyon 5 wickets that I can recall this summer including some crucial stumpings. Smith in Adelaide when he had only scored 20 or 30 may have made a huge difference to the result. We need our best gloveman and Wade is not it. Get some sheffield shield into Paine and take him instead to India and the UK

Posted by Tumo on (January 5, 2013, 12:37 GMT)

A good innings, think Mark Nicholas overdid it a bit with his "an innings those watching will never forget" lark. It was good. Nothing more, nothing less. Still incredible how Tim Paine/Chris Hartley don't get a look-in ahead though, two of the best (if not the two best!) keepers in the Aussie set-up, with batting ability rivalling that of Wade.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (January 5, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

Wade did very well today. but Lewis and Macca have a valid point that against the likes of Anderson, Swann, Broad, Bresnan, Finn we will need 6 speciast batsman and few batsman play swing bowling as well as Khawaja, another 60 odd in the Big Bash last night so he is in great form.

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 5, 2013, 11:49 GMT)

I think Wade is a potential all time great. At least he is in Aussie fans eyes and what do they know about cricket eh?

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 5, 2013, 11:48 GMT)

There is no doubt Wade has to improve his glove work but give him time and todays innings showed the man can bat. But agree with Lewis he has to bat 7. Players at the end of their careers having developed into champion players dont just happen. They take years of experience and training and commitment. Hussey was an excellent batsman and fielder and we'll miss him. But in a couple of years we may have players who we also laud coming through. Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Burns. Khawaja especially has the technique and is developing aggression through a few good T20 games. If he keeps developing as he is, he could be the next champion batsman. And how good was Hussey's catch today, why is he retiring.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 5, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Wade's main job is to keep and without his wicket keeping wouldnt be in the team. Great hundred but 3 drop catches of Lyon this game is frustrating. Going to India next and unless he improves his wicket keeping to spin could find himself out of the team. Also no need to bat him at 6, only need 4 bowlers (with a few overs from all-rounders) and Clarke has found it really hard to rotate 5 bowlers and give them the bowling they would like.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 5, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

Lets take it easy, this was against Sri Lanka, no doubt a very good innings but he is not our number 6, we need 6 specialist batsman in the ashes and Khawaja has to be the man to come in at 6. Wade would be a very good batsman to come in at 7 similar to what Gilly did. Remember Gilly was better then Wade and never came in at 6 because against the top teams you need 6 specialist batsman.

Posted by StarveTheLizard on (January 5, 2013, 10:28 GMT)

I see a couple of notes here bagging Wade's keeping skills. I wasn't able to see him keep so I cannot comment. I would hazard a guess that this won't be enough to keep him out of the line-up. Unless Wade gets injured or his keeping ability diminishes, he won't be going away any time soon. The team needs his batting - especailly now Hussey is on his way out.

Interesting thought though - Clarke did give Wade the ball and had Hughes keep a week or so ago. Perhaps there are some long-term changes in the offing for Wade. Once the team is settled he might find himself higher up the order as a specailist batsman. It's not the first time such role changes have occured.

Posted by KingofRedLions on (January 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT)

If we're going to have Wade in as a batsman only, then I would prefer Hartley to Paine.

Posted by Andross on (January 5, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

There are quite a few of Australia's batsmen you could say have an iffy technique at the moment, but I agree that he should stay at 7 if only from the point of view that he's actually quite good at batting with the tail as he did today. As for his keeping, the only thing that I see being wrong with it is that someone needs to tell him that he doesn't have to stand right up to the stumps anytime someone is bowling less than 130ks, he can stand a metre of two back to people like Watson and hussy, as there is realistically not going to stumping chance.

Posted by AnImpatientFan on (January 5, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

Matthew Wade has proven that he can stand up when Australia are in trouble. When Australia are dominating he tends to not make a score. Look at Dominica where he made the century and the WACA when he made the 60 to get Australia above 120.

Already he has impressed with the bat more than Haddin ever did. He might not be Gilchrist with his batting or Boucher with his glovework but Wade is the bset man for the job no doubt.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 5, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

Wade is without doubt the worst wicket keeper, there have been so many wicket keeping mistakes made by him this series not even jonesy2 can find something positive to say about him. You could release a DVD of it! He's got to therefore be in the team as a batsmen, why doesn't he move up to protect Clarke from facing something other than a non-seaming tennis ball?

Posted by splitvocal on (January 5, 2013, 9:47 GMT)

i think tim paine should be back in, better keeper, better batsmen and right handed, when it comes to the ashes having so many left handers in the team might play right into swanns hands!! whats with the commentators saying wades one of the hardest hitters in world cricket today, as far as i could tell he couldnt clear the rope!!

Posted by SamRoy on (January 5, 2013, 9:28 GMT)

Another Daniel Brettig nonsensical piece. Of all test teams (except Zimbabwe and Bangladesh), Wade is definitely the worst wicketkeeper. Even goalkeeper Haddin was better than him. Wade should play as a specialist batsman in India and Paine should keep otherwise Australia will lose. Wade, when he is keeping upto to stumps is not even first class standard, forget test standard.

Posted by dessertfox on (January 5, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

It's good to see Wade establishing himself in the side, but his place will always be no. 7 in the (test) batting order. The Aussie batting lineup is brittle enough as it is, especially with Hussey now gone as well, without trying to go with Wade at 6 & playing 5 bowlers. Johnson's batting is not good enough for him to be considered as an all rounder. The occasional good innings doesn't cut it. How many 50s do you see him making in England if he's played in the next Ashes series? "None" would be my answer. He doesn't have the technique. Get real.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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