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April 25, 2012

Australia in West Indies 2012

Wade's coming of age

Jarrod Kimber
Matthew Wade behind the stumps, Victoria v Tasmania, Pura Cup, Melbourne, November 10, 2007
The first time I saw Matthew Wade, it wasn’t clear if he had as yet been allowed into a pub  © Getty Images
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The first time I saw Matthew Wade keep he was horrible. Truly disgustingly bad. It was like his gloves were ceramic tiles that had been attached just for the day. At the time I couldn’t work out why Victoria had been talking this kid up.

And kid was the right word, he looked seven.

Victoria’s wicketkeepers usually look like angry men who you’d see at the back of dodgy pubs playing cards. Men like Darren Berry or ‘Slug’ Jordon who could dismiss you with their gloves, chunky thighs or behind-the-wicket abuse.

At this point it wasn’t clear if Wade had as yet been allowed into a pub.

Wade’s batting was never in question. From the first time I saw Wade bat three things were blatantly obvious. For a tiny little seven-year-old, he could really murder the ball. He was a fighter. And he could really bat.

At this stage it hardly mattered. Wade was a young man trying to make his way. Brad Haddin was the national keeper. Luke Ronchi was back-up limited-overs keeper. Graham Manou was picked for the Ashes back-up slot before Tim Paine was Haddin’s unlucky back-up. Paine was better with the gloves than Wade, was a solid more reliable batsmen than Wade. With Chris Hartley around as well, Wade might have been as far back as fifth in line.

But things changed quickly. Manou was seen as a one series back-up. Ronchi lost form and is now moving to New Zealand. Hartley could never shake the tag of not being quite good enough with the bat. Paine’s hands have never recovered from facing Dirk Nannes. And now Brad Haddin has a family illness to deal with.

You can’t ask for much more luck than this. Not that Wade needs the luck. The player you see now is not the same Wade I saw back at the MCG with ceramic hands and the face of a seven-year-old. His wicketkeeping is not great, but compared with most international wicket keepers it’s not horrible. Most importantly he’s improving all the time. His face has also changed. Australian wicketkeepers have a certain look more often than not. It’s that Marsh, Haddin and Healy face. Grizzled down by a working class life but with a touch of cheekiness to it and vicious squinty eyes. Wade already has that face three Tests in.

Wade looks, walks and plays like a fighter. He’s perpetually scrappy.

Wade also has a Test Century to his name. In only his third Test. Haddin only has three from 43 Tests, and those came in totals of 481, 535 and 674. Wade’s was in a total of 328 when no other batsman had made a hundred. Something else Haddin has never done. It was the sort of Test century you make in a really good day dream. The team are away from home, they’re struggling, and the big names have disappeared. In this knock Wade showed he could defend, attack and annihilate when it was required. And most importantly that he was reliable when really needed.

According to Michael Clarke, and an ever-decreasing group of Haddin loyalists, Brad Haddin is still the No. 1 choice for Australia Test keeper.

It’s hard to see that when Wade plays like this.

Matthew Wade has overcome cancer, improved his keeping at every opportunity, fights as hard as anyone in the Australia set-up and has now shown he can seriously bat. Perhaps he’s not the man just yet, but he’s certainly more than the nervous boy I saw only a few years ago.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by DR on (April 27, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

Agree that Wade is the man. Better bat than Haddin, improving keeper, real fighter.

As well as Haddin's dismissals at The Oval & Jo'burg, the selectors should consider Wade's 96 in the 2010 Shield final v Queensland - a Chris Tavare-like effort when Victoria were on the ropes on Day 1, quite brilliant in its context & which set up their win.

Posted by Meety on (April 27, 2012, 0:18 GMT)

@Ridley - the thing that irked me about the whole Paine for the Test side debate was people were putting him forward (Paine)as a specialist batsmen!!!!

Posted by Ridley on (April 25, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

These are good points, largely, made about Wade's ascendency. What strikes me, however, is that Paine's potential reign would have also been stop-gap until a stronger batsman arrived. Paine's leadership skills were often touted, however much like Callum Ferguson, his record isn't a particularly great one (also elegant at times to watch). Wade now has 5 1st class tons against Paine's 1, with one less fifty in less innings (17 to 18) and a 10 run lead in average. And for those who think that averages don't tell the full story, then you will have to wait a little longer for Sean Marsh and Ferguson (or the like) to replace Ponting and Hussey. And as statistics don't mean much, you won't mind the 0 digit against Australia's name in series scorelines.

Posted by Raj on (April 25, 2012, 13:42 GMT)

I really hope Tim Paine comes back to keep wickets.He would be my fierst choice wicket keeper after Brad Haddin. That said, Brad Haddin has good glovework,has been Captain of NSW, so he brings leadership advice to the field. His ONLY problem is his undependability in the batting department. There, both Tim Paine and Mathew Wade score above Haddin. Michael Clarke has to be polite and follow tradition We do not make sweeping changes ,unless called for.Mathew Wade is still young. Perhaps intwo years he will be the firstchoice wicket keeper when Brad Haddin retires.

Posted by Davo on (April 25, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Don't be too hard on Clarke for backing Brad Haddin at a time like this. Haddin and his family are doing it really tough at the moment and it is a great gesture for the captain to come out and back him rather than abandon him no matter how things happen to turn out next summer. Wade's comments about willingly ceding the gloves to Haddin if asked too is a credit to him and shows how quickly he's maturing not only behind the stumps. For now, let's just hope everything turns out ok for the Haddin family and not worry too much about who says what about who.

Posted by MrBS92 on (April 25, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

Good positive article...didn't know the bloke had beaten cancer...also it didn't mention Gilchrist as looking 'grizzled' and he was the best of all time...no comparisons which is the pitfall of any English allrounder since Botham or any Aussie spinner since Warne..it was a good knock in difficult circumstances and an important stepping stone for the lad...but lets not extrapolate too early..with Paine injured is there actually anyone knocking on the door? Being unchallenged has worked wonders for Prior..

Posted by Gavin on (April 25, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

Great artical. Though I still rate Paine as the best keeper in Aus. Followed by Wade, Hartley and Haddin. Wade has taken this opportunity with open arms and he should be congratulated for this.

Posted by Alvaro on (April 25, 2012, 8:07 GMT)

He looks the business. Perhaps John Inverarity could get Boof to have a word with Haddin about knowing when the time is right to pass on the baton and how exactly to do it. Clarke should appreciate that kind of sentiment.

Posted by Mister Obvious on (April 25, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

Yes, he's an especially nuggety type, not the least cause of which is that he's survived testicular cancer & has only one left where everybody else has two. So he's a scrapper with something to prove - which he did in grand style with a knock in the dashing, slashing Hussey/Gilchrist vein of saving the Australian bacon & making the final score look respectable. I imagine him playing rover in Aussie Rules, everywhere at once on the field, yapping endless encouragement to teammates. This is how he approaches his cricket - as a force of personality as well as ability. As a 'keeper, I reckon he's a keeper - meaning: Wade in, Haddin out, for good.

Posted by ramanujam sridhars on (April 25, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

I think Clarke"s comments were particularly badly timed. Clarke has hardly put a foot wrong as captain- whether it is bowling Hussey, Warner or bowling Beer with the new ball, not to forget his declarations he has been truly outstanding as captain. And yet his comments right in the middle of an important and crucial test were needless. Maybe that is what spurred him to play what could be a match winning innings. Australia have made mistakes before with players in form like Hodge who have been consigned to IPL thanks to strong performers and the old 'mate " principle. Australia is on the way back thanks to strong performances by the newer players like Warner, pattinson, Lyon and now Wade. I do agree that Wade can keep better specially on spinning tracks like the current one. But he has come a fair way as the author says and if persisted with , can go further.Dont look back Inveraity and co you are on the right track and when you feel weak look at Haddin"s dismissal at Johannesburgh.

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