Australia in South Africa 2011-12 September 29, 2011

Paine's loss is Wade's gain

Matthew Wade is looking forward to making the most of his big break, he just wishes it hadn't arrived because of the wrong kind of break for his good mate Tim Paine. When Paine was ruled out of Australia's upcoming Twenty20s in South Africa due to a fractured finger, Wade, 23, was the logical choice to take the gloves.

As Victoria's wicketkeeper over the past four seasons, Wade has made impressive progress in both his glovework and his batting, and was second on the Ryobi Cup run tally last summer. He had moved to Melbourne from Hobart when he realised that sneaking past Paine into the Tasmania side would be a very difficult task.

Wade knew from personal experience just how good Paine was. The pair had known each other from their childhood days, when they competed in games of backyard cricket that became so serious that the loser had to go and buy fish and chips for everyone.

"Tim and I grew up together, so I'm disappointed for him to have to go and get another operation on his finger," Wade told ESPNcricinfo. "It's devastating for him. But I'm really happy to take the opportunity. I know that he's happy for me - I got a text from him and I know that he's happy I got the opportunity."

By winning an international call-up, Wade has already beaten the odds. It has been notoriously difficult for glovemen to force their way into Australia's team over the past couple of decades, with Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist and Brad Haddin each monopolising the position during their respective eras.

In the past 20 years, only nine specialist wicketkeepers have taken the gloves for Australia in any format, plus a few non-specialists like David Boon, Justin Langer and Jimmy Maher. During the same period, more than 50 fast bowlers, 40 batsmen and 20 spinners have played for Australia.

"I'm really happy to get the chance to play for Australia," Wade said. "It's everyone's dream. A lot of hard work goes into getting there. I'm just stoked that I've got my opportunity. Hopefully I can take it and things can go further from here."

A muscular left-hand batsman and a good keeper whose glovework has improved dramatically over the past four years, Wade is likely to slot in down the order for Australia. However, the highest score in his 27-match Twenty20 career - which included some IPL games for Delhi Daredevils this year - was 80 opening for Australia A.

"I haven't played a lot of Twenty20, it's the least amount of games I've played out of the three forms," Wade said. "But I feel like I'm getting better. I know my game very well now. I'm happy to get an opportunity in whatever form it is, and T20 I feel comfortable playing it and hopefully I can do the job."

There will be plenty of familiar Victorian faces in the Twenty20 side with Wade, including the captain - and selector - Cameron White, the batsmen Aaron Finch and David Hussey, and the fast bowler James Pattinson. The two Twenty20s in Cape Town and Johannesburg on October 13 and 16 will be followed by three ODIs and two Tests.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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