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April 27, 2012
Australia's captain Michael Clarke has signed off from the West Indies by opening up the possibility of Matthew Wade retaining his Test place as a batsman should Brad Haddin return as the Test gloveman next summer.
Wade's pitch-defying century in Dominica earned him man-of-the-match honours in the final Test of a 2-0 series win over West Indies, and also demonstrated his skills as a batsman. It is an exceedingly rare thing in Australian cricket for a wicketkeeper to make the national side on his batting alone, though Adam Gilchrist and Haddin both played as batsmen in the ODI team while waiting for their predecessors to step aside.
"I think if he plays the way he's been playing there's no doubt about it [he could play as a batsman]," Clarke said. "And his numbers say that for Victoria. He's a wonderful wicketkeeper but I think that his batting's got a lot of potential too. He plays spin as good as anyone.
"Like I said, I think he has learned a hell of a lot throughout the one-day series about different conditions and playing spin in Australia compared to playing spin in the Caribbean, which will help him going into the subcontinent. And we've got a Test tour coming up over in India.
"There's a lot of cricket to be played before any of the selectors have to worry about the next XI or the next squad of 15 for our next Test series, but Wadey, hopefully, will continue to perform in the shorter form until the next Test match comes around."
Clarke, an avowed friend and supporter of Haddin, declined to repeat his pre-Test assertion that his New South Wales team-mate would automatically return to the keeping spot for Australia's next Test, against South Africa in November, should he make himself available. However he remained staunch in his support for Haddin, who withdrew from this tour due to a serious family matter.
"I've made it very clear that think Wadey's done everything in his power to put as much pressure on the selectors as possible," Clarke said. "What I also said was that if Brad was available for this tour he would have played the first Test match. I think it's great there's competition as a batter, as a bowler, as a wicketkeeper. It's fantastic for the game. How lucky are we in an Australian cricket team to have either Brad Haddin or Matthew Wade available for selection in the Test team?
"I think, Wadey, if he plays like that, certainly will continue to put pressure on not only the wicketkeeper's spot but a batsman's position too. That's something the selectors will have to worry about in time.
"I will still continue to support anybody that plays for this Australian team. Even though Brad's not here on this tour. My friendship, yes … but also [because of] his experience, his knowledge, his success as a Test player, I'll continue to support him, as I will always support Wadey. I think he's done fantastically in the shorter form of the game. He got his first opportunity here in Test cricket and he's grabbed it with both hands so there's nothing more he can do and now it's up to the selectors, when the time comes, to make a decision."
For his part, Wade said he had derived great satisfaction from developing as a wicketkeeper and a batsman in conditions as foreign as any he has experienced. He also felt the tour would work in his favour ahead of the 2013 tour of India, which serves as the prelude to that year's dual Ashes series.
"Probably the all-round experience of coming over here in the one-day series without knowing too much about these conditions," Wade said, when asked what he had found most rewarding. "Learning a lot in the first three one-dayers, as I've spoken about, in St Vincent and then continuing to develop my game in the nets with Justin Langer and Mickey Arthur, and trying to find my way in difficult conditions against spin bowling. So, probably that's most pleasing thing, going home knowing that I've learned a hell of a lot and I'm improving.
"I've been to the subcontinent a couple of times but only to play the short formats of the game. These conditions are very similar, I've been told. So, fingers crossed, if I get an opportunity to play, hopefully I can bring what I've learned here to the subcontinent and do my stuff."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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