Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade says he’s ready and able to step up to No.6 in the batting order for the New Year’s Test – and beyond if required.
Australian captain Michael Clarke has flagged the prospect of promoting Wade from the traditional keeper/batsman role at No.7 in the absence of the injured Shane Watson for the third and final Test against Sri Lanka starting on Thursday.
While Usman Khawaja is on standby for Clarke, who is still carrying a hamstring niggle, allrounder Glenn Maxwell is more likely to take Watson’s place and could slot in at No.7.
Wade is yet to be told exactly where he’ll be batting in Sydney but insisted on Monday he’d feel at home further up the order.
“I’d be comfortable moving up to six if that’s what the team needed me to do to win a Test,” Wade said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to bat at six for Victoria for a couple of years now and, in terms of impacting keeping, it doesn’t make too much of a difference.”
Wade averages 36.27 from eight Tests, including an impressive century against the West Indies in April.
He stressed he wouldn’t need to change his batting style, or preparation, if promoted.
“My personal expectation if I’m at six or seven is to contribute runs for the team,” he said.
“Maybe outside expectation is the number six needs to get a little bit more runs but I’m trying to get runs every time I’m out there.”
Wade also hinted he’d be happy to take on the role permanently.
Asked if he would seek the advice of retired great Adam Gilchrist, who played at No.6 many times to great effect, he said:
“Going forward, if it becomes too much of an issue for me or I’m finding things a bit difficult, I’ll source out Gilly, definitely.
“He’s always there – he’s a phone call away for me.”
Australia have an unassailable 2-0 series lead but will be motivated to send retiring batsman Mike Hussey out a winner in his final Test, starting on Thursday.
Wade said Hussey’s shock retirement meant Australia’s entire batting order needed to step up ahead of next year’s Ashes.
“There’s going to be a lot more expectation on players that have played under 20 Tests but that’s the way it goes. We’ve got to accept the responsibility,” Wade said.
“It’s a big hole that’s going to be out of our team but our young batters are keen and eager to learn and get better and hopefully there’s another ‘Mr Cricket’ waiting in our top six or seven.”
It remains to be seen how Australia will deal with the loss of Hussey and Ricky Ponting for the upcoming tour of India but David Hussey, 35, has not given up hope of replacing his brother in the Test side.
“I desperately want to play Test cricket and I haven’t had the opportunity,” Hussey said on Monday.
“I think Michael Clarke always says that age is no barrier. If you’re making runs at 17 or making runs at 45, you’re still going to be in the frame for selection.
The Australian squad will return to training on Tuesday, when a clearer indication should be given over Clarke’s fitness.