Australia wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has said that a total in the range of 230 to 250 would have made a difference on what he felt was a deteriorating pitch in Port Elizabeth. After electing to bat, Australia lost their top half in only 15 overs. That they eventually recovered to post 167 was courtesy Wade's fighting fifty and a more patient one from Mitchell Marsh. South Africa chased that total down fairly comfortably with 87 balls to spare.
"I don't think any game that you lose for Australia is tougher than the next, they all hurt just as much," Wade said. "Having said that, on that wicket, if we could have posted a reasonable total, anywhere around 230-250, I think we would have been right in the game. So I think it's disappointing we didn't get those runs on the board because I feel like the wicket was deteriorating and getting a touch slower as the game moved on."
Wade's 52 was studded with five fours and two sixes, but it was not with the bat alone that he showed his aggression. Wade had a series of exchanges with chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi. The two verbally sparred for a lengthy period, before Wade decided to tuck the bowler in the elbow while running across for a single, prompting Faf du Plessis to approach the umpires who had to intervene to calm things down.
"It's just competitive cricket. International cricket is hard work. We had a crack the other night and they came back at us today, so it's fair," Wade said. "I suppose it can get blown out of proportion at times, with all the technology around now. There are stump mikes and cameras everywhere. I enjoy that sort of a game, it got me in the contest straight away. We've got to find a way to keep him (Shamsi) out of the contest. I think if he doesn't get in the contest with wickets as quick as he did today, I think we can keep him a little quieter."
Wade was seen having several conversations with the umpires both while batting as well as keeping. During South Africa's chase, David Warner joined Wade at slip and engaged in plenty of chit-chat with Farhaan Behardien, prompting the umpires to once again get in between. "A lot of the conversations I was having with the umpires were about different things," Wade clarified. "Obviously, there was one moment when I first walked out there that he told us to settle down, and then, after that, it was just general chats. It wasn't really anything to do with what was going on out there, they were just general conversations."
Shamsi finished with parsimonious figures of 10-1-36-3, including the wickets of Steven Smith, Travis Head and John Hastings. "He's obviously something different, we faced him in the West Indies," Wade said. "When the ball is spinning, like it was spinning today, he's difficult. He's a good bowler, he's quite tough to read early. You need to face a few balls to really get a read on him. We need to play him better, for sure, but if the wicket's got a little bit in it, he's tough."
Wade had walked out with Australia 49 for 5 and immediately began a recovery through a partnership of 62 with Marsh. Marsh was dismissed in the 28th over, but Wade batted on for close to nine more overs before becoming the penultimate man to be dismissed. "It wasn't ideal to be out there that early, obviously, but it was good to get it with Mitchy and work as hard as we could to build a partnership. Unfortunately, we just kept losing wickets at crucial times of the game today," he said.
"We need to start winning a few more crucial moments, and me and Mitch, at that point, had put on 60 or so. We needed to probably knuckle down and take the innings as deep as we could to get to a reasonable total."
Wade admitted to Australia being "outplayed comprehensively," but hoped they could bring out their best in the final game. "I think the changes they (South Africa) made suited the wicket; they brought a couple of spinners in. We wanted to really win the last two games and go home on a high, that hasn't happened. We haven't played anywhere near our best throughout the first four games. We've got to have a long, hard look in the mirror and find a way to produce our best in the next game. We're not in a position where we can just walk out and play under par and win games of cricket."