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News

Captain Wade unsure if he will be Australia's first-choice keeper at T20 World Cup

Wade was surprised to see senior players David Warner and Steven Smith in the squad but is excited to captain his country again

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
30-Oct-2023
Australia's interim T20 captain Matthew Wade says he was not striving for a leadership role on the tour of India, but is keen to be a senior figure in the side for the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States next year although he is unsure if he will be the first-choice wicketkeeper.
The announcement of Wade as the captain of Australia's squad for the five-match series against India immediately following the ODI World Cup came as a surprise to some people around Australian cricket but it had long been in the works as the selectors manage the workloads of their senior players.
Australia do not currently have a permanent T20I captain with Mitchell Marsh filling the role in the recent South Africa series with great success, which was the first series since Aaron Finch's retirement. Marsh is being rested from the series against India to prepare for the home Test summer. ODI and Test captain Pat Cummins is also missing the tour alongside Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green.
Wade was Finch's long-time vice-captain having led Australia in seven T20Is when Finch was injured, including in their final game of last year's T20 World Cup against Afghanistan. But he was not initially selected for the South Africa series with the selectors to give Josh Inglis some opportunities with the gloves, with the intention of Wade returning against India. Wade did end up touring South Africa as an injury replacement for Glenn Maxwell but did not play.
Speaking the day after he helped guide Tasmania to what he described as his best-ever Sheffield Shield win against Queensland, making 105 in a fourth innings chase of 432, Wade said he had not expected to be named Australia captain again.
"I've never really strived so much for leadership," he said. "I think you kind of look after your own backyard and those things kind of take care of themselves.
"With the relationships that I've got with [coach] Andrew McDonald and obviously [head selector] George Bailey and all the coaching staff around the Australian team and selectors, whatever situation I was going to be going over to India in it would have been in a senior role anyway.
"So it's just a bit of a cherry on top after a long career I suppose, to get another chance to go and captain in a country that is so much fun to play, it's going to be a hell of a time."
Wade was one of Australia's heroes of the 2021 T20 World Cup triumph but he admitted on the eve of the 2022 edition in Australia that it could possibly be his last tournament in international colours.
However, he has maintained his form and, more importantly, his hunger to keep playing at the highest level. He made the decision last summer to not play Shield cricket for Tasmania after the BBL and instead travelled to the SA20 to play with Joburg Super Kings. He then went to PSL for Karachi Kings before heading back to Gujarat Titans in the IPL after winning a title with them in 2022. He was with the squad throughout the 2023 IPL but did not play a single game. He then went and played in the Hundred with London Spirit.
Inglis has long been nipping at Wade's heels in Australia's T20 side and has already usurped Alex Carey as the No.1 ODI wicketkeeper-batter. Both men have been named in the squad to face India but Wade will be the captain and first-choice wicketkeeper. Wade said he was unsure though whether that would be the case for the T20 World Cup next year.
"We've got the T20 World Cup coming up, whether I'm the number one keeper there and play, whether that be that I go as a spare bat/keeper I'm not 100% sure. I don't know if the selectors and the coaches are 100% sure.
"But I want to be there. I want to play. If it ends up being that No.7 role as the wicketkeeper, I feel like I've probably nailed that spot down in the last few years for the Australian T20 side. So fingers crossed I get the nod in that but if I don't I'm really comfortable going and playing my role."
Wade added he was surprised that the selectors had named David Warner and Steven Smith in the squad, despite resting a host of other senior three-format players ahead of the first Test of the summer against Pakistan in mid-December.
"It's a really exciting squad," Wade said. "I didn't expect to see some of the older faces in there. The guys have been over there for so long, to be honest, and they're going to hang around and play in those games.
"Matt Short, who's come on in leaps and bounds in the last little bit, he'll be around there. I was in South Africa and I saw these young guys perform at international level and I'm excited to go out and see them do it in India."
Despite several key players being rested, Wade expected the series against India to be the start of Australia's preparations for the T20 World Cup next year. They only have 11 T20Is between now and the start of the tournament in June, with five against India followed by three at home against West Indies in February and three more in New Zealand later that same month.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo