Nothing to lose for Maddinson and Wade

Brett McKay Columnist

By , Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    I know I wasn’t alone this week in expressing surprise at the selection of NSW bat Nic Maddinson and Victorian ‘keeper Matthew Wade for the Third Test against South Africa starting today in Adelaide.

    I know this because Twitter blew up when the announcement was made on Sunday afternoon, and there have been countless articles written about it since.

    And text messages. When I’m getting text messages about something, then people are really annoyed.

    Like most of you, my reaction to the changes was pretty simple.

    – Matt Renshaw: haven’t seen him, but I like what I read;

    – Peter Handscomb: happy days, I’ve been raving about him for years;

    – Chadd Sayers: yeah, fair enough, he’s been bowling well for a while;

    – Jackson Bird: good, probably should’ve been in the squad from the start;

    – Matthew Wade: whoa, let’s not go overboard here, and

    – Nic Maddison: oh, good grief.

    There are numerous reasons why I’m not a huge rap on either Wade or Maddinson, and there are numerous reasons why I don’t think either should have been picked.

    But they have been picked, and there’s no point debating their selection any further. They’re both in the side now, they’ll both play in Adelaide, and given the upheaval the selectors have now brought upon the team, they will be in the Test team now for the rest of the summer. At least.

    Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne (R) attempts to catch Australia's batsman Matthew Wade (L)

    Of course, the last thing either player should be doing is trying to please the masses. The only opinions that count are those of Steven Smith and the selectors.

    But both players will be aware of the conjecture; it’s almost impossible to escape the commentariat in this day and age, especially when there has been as much written and said about their selections as there has been.

    And that means that both players can play with complete freedom. With expectation around these players set where it is, almost any success they have in this Test will be a welcome bonus. It might be one of those rare moments in professional sport where they can’t lose either way.

    For Wade, I don’t really care if he’s prepared to throw out some lip to the South Africans; what’s more important is that he can show the kind of pluck and guile and fighting qualities with the bat that he’s been selected for.

    It’s certainly true – in part – that Peter Nevill lost his place because of the batting failings of those immediately around him in the batting order, but Wade can’t be walking to the crease with any other attitude than scoring runs himself.

    He’s certainly capable of this. He’s made Test centuries, and one of them was batting at six. He’s batted himself at five for Victoria this season, and that has brought him a degree of success in both the one-day and Shield competitions. He also showed some ability to bat with the tail during the one-day series in South Africa.

    A total of 11 Shield catches and a stumping in three matches this season suggests there is some merit to his self-assessment of being a vastly improved wicketkeeper than when he last wore the baggy green, too. There may not be a more anticipated and eagle-eyed study of a single moment of ‘keeping than when the first ball hits his gloves.

    For Maddinson, he gets the opportunity to repay the significant faith of the national selectors, an opportunity that feels like it’s been mentioned prospectively in recent years way more and way sooner than perhaps it should have been. The talent is undeniable, but the application thereof remains in question.

    But like Wade one spot below him, Maddinson is definitely capable of making the no.6 place in the order his.

    New South Wales opener Nic Maddinson bats on day one of the Sheffield Shield match between Queensland and New South Wales at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.

    He came into First Class cricket as a young opener, a stodgy young opener at that, but has reinvented himself in recent years as a middle order strokemaker of enormous potential. Mark Waugh, Darren Lehmann, and maybe even Greg Chappell around the selection table will have seen parts of their own game in Maddinson, and if the young batsman gets even in the ballpark of their quality, then his selection will have been a huge success.

    Hopefully he’s still got a bit of nervous young opener’s stodge in him still, because by his own admission, there will be times in Adelaide where he’ll have to work bloody hard for his runs. But if he can come out the other side unscathed, then his natural game can certainly – and rapidly – turn a game.

    We have to go back to the not-so-glory days when relatively unknown kids like Jones, and Ritchie, and Waugh were thrown into the deep-end of Test cricket to remember such a sweeping change of selection direction.

    We know more about young players these days, but many of those same puzzled questions of the mid-1980s equally apply today. ‘Are we really sure this is the way we want to go?’

    And we’re not sure, if we’re honest. But with Wade and Maddinson now in the Test side, I’m looking forward to being wrong about both of them.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.