Australia's stand-in coach Justin Langer believes Matthew Wade could become the best wicketkeeper in the country if he was to follow the hard work ethic of predecessors Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist. Wade was key to Australia's win in the tri-series final against West Indies thanks to his unbeaten 57 from 52 balls, and Langer said his batting form at practice was outstanding throughout the tour.
However, Wade's glovework has rarely matched the sharpness of previous Australia wicketkeepers such as Healy and Gilchrist, and earlier in the tri-series Wade himself nominated Peter Nevill as the best gloveman in Australia. Earlier this year, the selectors chose Test wicketkeeper Nevill ahead of Wade in the squad for the World T20 in India, leaving ODIs as the only format in which Wade is the incumbent.
Wade has played 12 Tests and was the first-choice Test wicketkeeper during 2012 and early 2013, until the selectors went back to Brad Haddin for the Ashes campaign in England. Now 28, Wade's international future appears more likely to be in the shorter formats with Nevill well established in the Test side, but Langer said there was no reason Wade could not push his case for a recall.
"What often happens is you only highlight the mistakes," Langer said. "But you don't notice him very often and that's a really good sign. My advice to him, I was very lucky to play with Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist and they always had the best work ethic of anyone in the squad, so if he just continues to work hard there's no reason [he can't improve].
"I heard him say a couple of weeks ago Peter Nevill is obviously the best wicketkeeper in Australia. Well, I'd like to think Matthew Wade is aspiring to be the best wicketkeeper in Australia. He's in the one-day side, if he works hard, if he has a Healy and Gilchrist work ethic, then there's no reason why he can't be the best wicketkeeper in Australia. But that's up to him if he really wants to work at that."
During the tri-series, Wade spilled a one-handed chance that allowed Marlon Samuels to go on and score a century, but, after Australia's win in the final, captain Steven Smith acknowledged that the pitches in the West Indies made it a tough place to keep wicket.
"It has been difficult," Smith said. "He's missed a couple of opportunities but it is a tough place to keep. There's lots of balls that were bouncing before him and the ball was reversing and doing a bit. It is a difficult place to keep."
Wade's batting has always been a plus at the selection table, with two centuries from his 12 Tests and an average of a touch under 40 in first-class cricket. His innings in the tri-series final earned high praise from Langer, who was coaching the side in this tournament due to the absence of Darren Lehmann.
"He showed maturity, he's the captain of Victoria at the moment," Langer said. "He showed really good leadership and he batted very well. A big innings under pressure, that's when you earn respect from your team-mates, that's when you earn respect from the selectors, that's when you earn respect from the public and the media."