Wade could be Australia’s finest wicketkeeper/batsmen
We all loved Adam Gilchrist, the legend of Australia cricket, whose inconsistent but often breathtaking displays with bat and glove dominated highlight reels for over 10 years.
Since then it has been a dramatic withdrawal from our Gilly hit, with Brad Haddin replacing Gilchrist at the beginning of 2009.
It was such a huge burden to be placed on one keeper, as Haddin was taking the mantle of the greatest wicketkeeper batsmen Australia has ever seen. Haddin struggled with consistency early in his career but went on to chalk up three hundreds for the nation.
Whilst Haddin is a pure strokes player, who’s exquisite cover drive became his trademark, he has suffered a serious form decline, not just with the bat but also with the gloves. Enter Matthew Wade, the young strapping Tasmanian who assumed a home with the Bushrangers.
Wade stands at just 1.70m, but while his stature may be small, his on-field presence in the recent Test matches in the West Indies sold me as a sure replacement in the Australian Test team for the next decade.
A blistering 106 runs, which ensured an Australian victory, with an average of 40 in his first three games, should see Wade anointed the successor to Haddin’s declining performance at the top.
Wade, who is 24, has showcased remarkable ability with the gloves, taking some breathtaking catches and performing some solid stumpings in recent ODI’s. However, it is his batting that has captured my attention and imagination.
Wade has showcased his ability to bat in a way that is appropriate to the innings, a trait that David Warner and Haddin seem to lack. Wade showed amazing leadership and grit in the recent Sheffield Shield game, making 89 runs on a green deck at the GABBA, the next best score for the entire match was 53 from paceman Peter Siddle (who’s batting has improved markedly).
Wade has also shown the ability to be able to destroy an attack, which he did against the West Indies, as well in last season’s T201s where he blasted 72 off 45 balls, including a six which sailed 109 metres at the MCG.
Wade must be played; his upside is enormous, and I don’t think Australian selectors, or for that matter supporters, have grasped how much upside he has, if he is given the opportunities. He looks like a player that could take well over 300 Test catches, and make 6000-plus runs at Test level.
His predesscor Haddin scored three centuries in 43 Tests at an average of 36; Wade has played three Tests and already has one century with an average of 40. The left-hander also has an uncanny resemblance to Gilchrist at times, when he slog sweeps or blasts open an attack but has the grit of Mike Hussey to dig in with the tail and make a big score.
Wade, if played this summer, will dominate this Test series, and I whilst others may be surprised that he may score a couple of centuries in the upcoming Test series and net a few brilliant catches, I will not be. This is the man that will be as close to Gilchrist as you can get, and perhaps, he may be even better.
So it is time we moved on from Haddin, and forgot about Paine, because Matthew Wade is the face of the Australian wicketkeeper… and he will be for another 10 years.