Matthew Wade denies it was a message motivated by skipper Michael Clarke’s words of support for Brad Haddin but his maiden Test century gives Australia’s selectors plenty to think about.
At age 24 and playing just his third Test, Wade became the youngest Australian wicketkeeper to score a Test hundred when he hit 106 to right Australia’s shaky first innings in the third Test against the West Indies in Dominica.
In an innings that might spell the end of 34-year-old Haddin’s Test career, Wade eclipsed selector and former keeper Rod Marsh’s maiden century age mark set as a 25-year-old in 1975 – with Marsh watching on from the stands.
Clarke said before the third Test that absent Haddin remains his No.1 choice as wicketkeeper despite Wade’s solid performances in the first two games in the Caribbean.
Wade insists those words had no effect on his century performance but it will give Clarke, Marsh and fellow selectors much extra food for thought in the long interval before Australia’s next Test assignment against South Africa in the home summer.
“No one’s comments are going to make me try any harder to play Test cricket,” Wade said. “It didn’t play a factor at all.
“My mindset definitely hasn’t changed. There’s a lot of one-day and T20 cricket in between, a lot of water under the bridge before the first Test against South Africa at the Gabba.
“I’ll do my job and see how it goes.
“Pup said that Hadds is 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.”
Wade came in with the side struggling and marshalled tail-enders Mitchell Starc and Ben Hilfenhaus to lift Australia from 7-169 to 328 on day two on Tuesday. The Windies resume on day three at 8-165, still trailing by 163 runs.
But the most impressive factor was the way Wade changed through the gears in his innings, recovering from a near miss when he was dropped by Windies quick Kemar Roach on 22 to go from 50 to 100 in just 32 balls.
On the way, he hit three sixes, spending just one ball in the 80s as he hit back-to-back maximums, before creaming his 10th boundary of the innings to bring up his 100.
“I don’t think I had any doubt I could play Test cricket,” he said.
“It’s been a massive tour for me. I’ve learned so much from the first game we played, the one-dayers where the conditions were just so different from what I’m used to.
“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 … 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.”