The Investec Ashes 2013 July 25, 2013

Wade bids to play as a batsman


David Warner drastically improved his chances of taking part in the Investec Ashes over the course of a single innings for Australia A in South Africa. Now Matthew Wade is earnestly hoping to do the same, under the noses of the national selectors in the tour match against Sussex.

Warner's effort, a blistering 193, has provided inspiration for the rest of Australia's bedraggled squad even if it was made 7,000 miles away. Until that innings the nation's batting had been a laughing stock for the best part of four days, but Warner has at least provided some indication for the rest of what is possible with a little confidence.

So far on tour, Wade has been less a member of the team than the answer to a trivia question: which man apart from Michael Clarke has made a Test century in 2013? Wade's quite brilliant hundred against Sri Lanka at the SCG has since faded from view after he ceded his wicketkeeping position to the vice-captain Brad Haddin.

Nonetheless, the travails of the batsmen at Trent Bridge and Lord's have offered Wade a glimmer of opportunity and, like Warner, he is hoping to barge his way into calculations by rattling to a large score at Hove - not that he is thinking too far ahead of course.

"Any batsman who goes out and dominates and gets 150 or 200 will have a chance to play," Wade said. "But I haven't spoken to anyone about a spot coming up. I'm just excited to have a game of cricket because I've been on the sidelines for a few weeks. To go into a game thinking those sort of things is wrong thing to do. If you go into a game thinking if I get runs I will play the Test match it won't do you any good."

Wade's keeping has been the cause for most concern over his brief Test match career, but his batting is highly regarded. On several occasions when he was still a selector, the captain Michael Clarke suggested Wade would contend for a place as a batsman alone, and it is one after-effect of Adam Gilchrist's influential career that most wicketkeepers have almost had to consider themselves batsmen first.

"Gilchrist ruined it for everyone," Wade said with a laugh. "It's like being an allrounder. I feel comfortable where I'm at with keeping and batting. When I got dropped I went up to the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane for six-eight weeks and worked really hard with Ian Healy. I was going up for a couple of days at a time and did a lot of work with him and Hadds was there as well. It felt like I came a long way in that period. I was here in England for the ODIs and felt my keeping was going pretty well. Fingers crossed things keep going in that direction."

Watching from the boundary's edge, Wade has been greatly impressed by England's bowling, the best he has seen around the world so far. But he harked back to memories of the home Tests against South Africa in late 2012 for a reminder that Australia can bat should conditions and confidence dovetail effectively.

"It's been terrific and world class bowling," Wade said of England. "It's the best I've seen in the 18 months I've been around Test cricket. We knew their bowlers would be hard work. I'd love to have an opportunity to have a crack at them. We played South Africa in Australia and didn't find too many problems scoring 400-500 in an innings. Wickets were different and we have to adjust. We have to find a way. It's not impossible. We have all scored runs against very good players before."

As for the wider questions about why Australia's batting had deteriorated, Wade agreed with Usman Khawaja that the increase in the number of green Sheffield Shield pitches had been a significant factor. "First-class cricket has been hard work over past couple of years to score big runs. Pitches have not been ideal," Wade said. "They have been greener than previously and that is an issue for batmen hitting big hundreds. It is not a technical issue that players have not been scoring big runs.

"It has been great for bowlers. Batting wise it is harder but a good challenge. Everyone talks about batsmen getting big hundreds, 200s and 250s but that is a big ask in games that are only going two and a half or three days."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • din on July 26, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    Wade should concentrate on his keeping first and batting second...he should make himself ready to replace Haddin, who is already getting too old. 3rd test: Watson, Rodgers, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Warner, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Bird, Lyon Lyon should be given a chance, Agar is still very inexperience. Bird should be given a chance, now that Pattinson is out. Warner should be given a chance to redeem himself, he can provide support to Lyon too.

  • Shawn on July 26, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    Why is Marcus North been dropped? I know he only averages 35 but 5 centuries from 21 matches....he always seemed to get runs whenever Ive seen him and hes a proven FC performer

  • David on July 26, 2013, 13:05 GMT

    @Test_Cricket_is_Better: Sangakarra kept for quite a long time while batting up the order. AB de Villiers is currently a gloveman and #5. At the end of the day it's just a matter of how important runs are compared to maybe the occasional extra mistake. In the current Australian team, it's all about maximising the output of the batting line-up.

  • Rod on July 26, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    @Test_Cricket_is_Better clearly you have very fixed ideas about the keeper's place in the batting, but nothing is as certain as this. I remember the great Farokh Engineer who opened the batting for India. His 86 in their first innings at Lords in 1974 lit up the match, together with Bishan Bedi's multicoloured patkas. Unfortunately (for the contest) the England batsmen had by then worked out how to propsper against the spinners and lost heavily. But the point that I'm making is that a wicketkeeper should bat whereever in the order is appropriate for his approach. Engineer was an attack minded opener who averaged 31 in test matches. This seems low today (although it is around about what some of the Australian specialist batsmen average) but made him one of the best Indian batsmen in the 1970s. India were a weaker side than they have been in the past decade, without a genuinely fast bowler and playing three or four spinners. One of their medium pacers, Solkar, also opened the batting.

  • Neil on July 26, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    Yes please, another T20 slogger with no technique for test cricket. 3 - 0 coming up.

  • Rajesh on July 26, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Wade may still have to wait. The most likely 11 for Australia in the next Ashes test is Watson, Rogers, Khwaja, Clarke, Warner, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner, Siddle, Lyon, Harris

  • Stephen on July 26, 2013, 4:54 GMT

    Why does everyone forget that Haddin's batting AND keeping was why he was dropped. He's never been a good keeper and he's a bad team influence. If he wasn't from NSW he would never have been considered. He's already ignored a stack of chances.

  • Andy on July 26, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    Yeah and Haddin's been a real success hasn't he? How many times did he stand and look at 1st slip as the ball sailed between them.

    He's older, his batting is worse and his keeping no better than Wade's.

    I can also recall Haddin throwing his wicket away on plenty of occasions.

    Just face up to facts, Australia are getting beaten by better sides. We have a bunch of very average players being led by an average leader.

  • John on July 26, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Australia are in danger of doing what England did in the 1990s- falling into the 'try anything' mode. If they keep on making changes, bringing in new people, shuffling the batting order, then no-one ever feels comfortable and they become easy pickings for a settled side in which everyone knows his role.

    Starc has been replaced by Harris, Cowan by Khawaja. Only the openers and Haddin have batted in the same position in all 4 innings. Even dropping the established spinner, Lyon, and putting in young Agar smacked of desperation and, well as he batted in his first innings, his 2 wickets @124 compared with Swann's 13 @22 has been one of the big differences between the sides.

    Now one change is forced by Patto's injury, there's talk of Warner coming back in and Wade wants to play as a batsman. Replace Agar with Lyon and more than half the side will have changed from the first test to the third.

    A side which doesn't know its best 6 players, let alone 11, is officially in disarray.

  • Adrian on July 26, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    It looks like those early rumours were true. I will repeat them again. Pattinson and Hughes out, Wade and Lyon in - for the 3rd test. Wade will play as wicket keeper while Haddin will play as a specialist batsman. Trent Copeland is being flown in to replace Pattinson in the squad and Warner will come in for the 4th test, though who he is replacing is unsure - probably Haddin.