Healy slams Wade over glovework
Ian Healy has slammed Matthew Wade's wicketkeeping during the Test summer and said Australia needed to choose their best gloveman for the upcoming tours of India and England. Healy, who watched from the commentary box as Wade kept wicket for his first home summer, was disappointed not only with the way Wade missed opportunities for stumpings and catches, but also what he perceived as a lack of discipline in getting the basics right.
"He's not happy at all. He didn't have a good summer with the gloves at all," Healy told Radio Sport National on Friday. "Even some of the basic stuff that he's not tidying up, he's not getting to the stumps, he's not taking returns well, he's not sharpening up the fielding effort. Even those basic disciplines weren't being created, let alone missed dismissals.
"Nathan Lyon wouldn't have been that happy, there were four or five chances missed from his bowling. He's getting criticised for not taking wickets. These are all the little internal conflicts of an under-achieving wicketkeeper. Matthew Wade says he's still young and he wants to keep improving, but I don't think he's that young. He's 25.
"If he is keeping for Australia, these sort of things have to be done, and they have to be done better. We're playing against Sri Lanka, it's not as if we're playing against South Africa or England for five Tests [where] we need everything taken. He needs to really get a look at what Brad Haddin is doing and try to find a way to get it done himself."
Healy's strong words came as Wade was at home resting from the first two one-day internationals against Sri Lanka, having played more matches for Australia over the past year in all formats than anyone except David Warner. John Inverarity's selection panel is so keen on Wade as a Test player that he even batted at No.6 during the third Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney, and scored an unbeaten century.
That was a position that not even the great Adam Gilchrist occupied on a regular basis during his days in the Test side. Healy is widely regarded as the best of Australia's modern glovemen, while his replacement Gilchrist performed adequately behind the stumps and was brilliant with the bat. Healy said during Gilchrist's time, when Australia had bowlers like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, they could afford to play a wicketkeeper whose batting was his stronger suit, but not anymore.
"What Adam Gilchrist had was a relevance to his team," Healy said. "He was appropriate to the team. He had a team with a great bowling attack that created more chances than you needed. We haven't got an attack like that now. We've got an attack that if you need 20 wickets in a Test, they might create 18 and you'd better take a half-chance here or there or a great run-out and you might get over the line.
"That's where you don't need a wicketkeeper missing stuff. Right now Australian cricket in the Test form initially needs the best wicketkeeper. We need to find out who that is, and someone who is not making mistakes."
Healy said he could not understand why the selectors had chosen Wade ahead of Brad Haddin at the start of this summer. However, he also said that he believed Queensland's Chris Hartley, 30, was the best pure gloveman in the country but that he was unlikely to earn an opportunity at international level with Wade, Haddin and Tim Paine all ahead of him in the queue.
"I don't understand why they dropped [Haddin] and it's never been explained to me or the public after the West Indies," Healy said. "He wasn't in great form [and] he had to go home and look after his ill daughter. Then when he gets that right and he's ready to play again, he's not picked. I thought that was a bit harsh.
"Tim Paine can emerge without being picked for Australia. Chris Hartley must be sitting in Queensland thinking I'm gone here, even though he's probably the best keeper of the lot. You talk to the players and they say that all the time. He's missed out I'd say. He's 30 and there's three being talked before him."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here