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April 25, 2012
Matthew Wade has refused to lobby for the No. 1 Australia wicketkeeper's spot, even after his match-turning century against West Indies in Dominica made a compelling case for his retention at the start of the next home summer. Captain Michael Clarke has made it patently clear that he wants Brad Haddin back in the Australia Test team as soon as he is able to return - Haddin had withdrawn from this tour due to a serious family issue - and Wade showed no inclination to dispute the order of seniority following his 106 at Windsor Park.
While many observers at the ground were left to wonder how Haddin could take the gloves back against South Africa at the Gabba later this year, given how capably Wade batted with the Australia tail, the man himself said he was quite happy to cede the position come November.
"Hadds was supposed to play this tour and I've come in and taken his spot in an unfortunate situation - personal reasons back home that Hadds has. So that's as far as I'm looking," Wade said. "I know it's cliché, but that's as far as I'm looking. We're playing these games then we've got a pretty big gap in Test cricket. Hopefully I can hold my spot in the one-dayers and take things from there.
"I don't think it [the century] changes [anything], my mindset definitely hasn't changed. There's a lot of one-day and Twenty20 cricket in between, a lot of water under the bridge before the first Test against South Africa at the Gabba, so I'll do my job and see how it goes. Pup [Clarke] said that Haddin's No. 1 in Test cricket and that sits fine with me, I'm happy to fill the void for a while and go and play some one-day cricket."
Having fought and scrapped early on in his knock, as he had done in most of his innings so far on this tour, Wade accelerated in stunning fashion around the fall of Mitchell Starc's wicket. Unperturbed by the fact he was batting with the bowlers, Wade said that while his advance to a century had been dramatic, it was in keeping with the sort of back-end rhythm that typified most of his better innings.
"In first-class cricket that's generally the way I play," he said. "I know that if I can get myself in for long enough that I can make it [the scoring-rate] up towards the end if I'm batting with the tail. I think a lot of my innings at times are like that. It takes me a little bit of time to get going but I can make it up towards the end. Maybe not make it up like I did today, but that's generally my game plan. I'm not too worried about scoreboard pressure as such. I try and build an innings and try, and catch up at the back end.
"Towards the end I knew Hilfy [Ben Hilfenhaus] and Lyono [Nathan Lyon] had been batting well, so I wasn't too concerned. I didn't change my game too much. I backed them because I knew they would stick around for me. If I happened to be not out at the end then I was not out, that's how I looked at it. There was definitely no intent to go out and try and slog sweep or get the run-rate up, I just batted the way I thought I should have batted in that situation and backed the bloke at the other end."
Wade struggled noticeably early in the tour, in conditions completely foreign to him as both wicketkeeper and batsman. But he has learned over time, adding the sweep shot to his game against the slow bowlers, and in Dominica was able to contribute a critical innings when his team was in most desperate need.
"I don't think I had any doubt I could play Test cricket. It's been a massive tour for me, I've learned so much right from the first game we played, the one-dayers where the conditions were just so different from what I'm used to," he said. "I felt every game that I was getting a lot better, we've been working on things every day to get better in these conditions - we've got subcontinent conditions coming up at the Twenty20 World Cup and that kind of stuff.
"It was about more improvement to get better. I felt I was good enough to play at this level if I could just get things to go right for me. It was about improving the little things, the conditions were a massive thing and I brought out my sweep halfway through the one-day series, I decided I'd use the sweep a lot more and I've brought that with me into the Tests. It's going to be a massive shot for me going forward in subcontinent conditions."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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