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Wade’s Ashes spot almost gone

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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146 Have your say

    Matthew Wade’s Ashes spot hangs by a thread after he conceded a whopping 30 byes and failed with the bat in the first Test against Bangladesh. But Australia’s wicket keeping stocks are worryingly low, with no strong alternative.

    There are only two realistic options to replace Wade – one who already had a long Test stint and couldn’t handle the step up to international cricket, and the other an inexperienced cricketer who wasn’t even his State’s first-choice gloveman 18 months ago.

    The former is New South Wales veteran Peter Nevill, who performed poorly during his recent 17-Test stint and will be 32 years old by the time the Ashes starts.

    The latter is 26-year-old South Australian Alex Carey, who broke the Sheffield Shield record for most dismissals last year, but only averages 26 with the bat in first-class cricket and has limited experience with just 18 matches to his name.

    Neither are particularly attractive Test prospects at this stage. The fact that Wade is the incumbent Test keeper, and his two main rivals are not exactly world-class, highlights the poor quality of Australia’s keeping stocks.

    Compare that to England, whose keeper Jonny Bairstow has improved his glovework considerably while also piling up almost 2,000 runs at an average of 51 in his past 24 Tests. Or Australia’s next Test foe after the Ashes, South Africa, who boast one of the most valuable players in Test cricket in keeper-batsman Quentin de Kock, a superstar with a career batting average of 45.

    Meanwhile, Wade is under enormous pressure, having received fierce backlash from Australian fans and media after his calamitous performance during the first Test loss in Dhaka. As a comparison, Wade’s 30 byes in that Test were almost double the 17 byes Nevill conceded across the entire three-Test series in Sri Lanka last year.

    Matthew Wade keeping

    (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

    It must be pointed out, however, that the Dhaka pitch, with its very uneven turn and bounce, was more difficult for keeping than any of the surfaces in Sri Lanka. So much so that even Bangladesh’s veteran wicketkeeper and captain Mushfiqur Rahim conceded a mammoth 22 byes.

    And while Nevill only conceded 17 byes in Sri Lanka, he did miss four clear-cut chances across the series and was woeful with the bat, averaging just eight from his six innings. Nevill entered the Test arena with a reputation in domestic circles as having the second-best glovework in the country after Queensland’s Chris Hartley.

    Yet his keeping, overall, was only satisfactory rather than outstanding across his Test stint. In that way, Nevill’s glovework could not make up for his insufficient input with the bat, as he averaged just 22 with a highest score of 66.

    It seemed to be this lack of runs which cost Nevill his Test spot when he was replaced by Wade for the third Test against South Africa last summer. Wade has since been similarly poor with the blade, making 155 runs at 21. The 29-year-old Tasmanian did have a good tour of India earlier this year, where he kept quite neatly and averaged 33 with the bat.

    That likely won’t save him though if he has another substandard Test next week in Bangladesh, especially if Australia go on to lose this series 2-0. In such a scenario, Nevill and Carey would surge into contention for the Ashes.

    WA’s Sam Whiteman has long loomed as Australia’s best long-term Test keeping option, but he looks set to miss most or even all of the home summer due to yet another finger injury.

    Carey now is the only young keeper with the requisite experience and form to enter Test calculations. The Redbacks keeper last summer became just the fourth player in Shield history to pass 500 runs and 50 catches in a season en route to breaking the all-time dismissals record with 59.

    As I wrote in June, Carey appeared as though he might have leapfrogged Nevill in the Test pecking order when he was named as the Australia A wicketkeeper for their July tour of South Africa.

    That tour was cancelled due to the pay dispute, robbing Carey of a golden chance to press his case for Ashes selection. This has placed extra importance on the first two rounds of the Sheffield Shield (to be played before the Ashes), which could potentially turn into a shootout between Nevill and Carey, should Wade struggle again next week.

    First Australia need to avoid a 2-0 series loss in Bangladesh and, if they are to do so, they will need a lift from Wade.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (146)

    • September 1st 2017 @ 6:53am
      not so super said | September 1st 2017 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      We have a problem – picking bats who succeed in Oz conditions and expecting them to do well on the sub cont
      additionally the failure of Wade on the sub continent should have no bearing on his chances to succeed in the Ashes under our conditions

      • Columnist

        September 1st 2017 @ 7:04am
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

        Since returning to the team, Wade has actually batted better in Asia than at home ….. average of 26 in five Tests in Asia vs average of 12 in his four Tests in Australia.

        • September 1st 2017 @ 8:53am
          Marshall said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          Low bar to step over…

        • September 1st 2017 @ 9:46am
          Stephen said | September 1st 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          Take wade out and handscombe will be our long term keeper, imagine having a keeper that bats as well as he can, and if he gets back to training as a keeper he will become better then wade

          • Roar Guru

            September 1st 2017 @ 1:40pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            Possibly, though the majority of test cricketers who’ve played as both wicket keeper and specialist batsman have averaged significantly worse with the bat when they’ve taken the gloves. So to expect Handscomb to put in lots of keeping work to up his keeping level to international standard and take the gloves full-time while not dropping off at all with the bat may be a big ask.

          • September 1st 2017 @ 6:12pm
            Brasstax said | September 1st 2017 @ 6:12pm | ! Report

            “imagine having a keeper that bats as well as he can…”

            Yeah, just one fifty in the last 11 consecutive test innings and under 20 in the others… imagine that!!! Sounds very familiar.

        • September 1st 2017 @ 10:28am
          The Fatman said | September 1st 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

          Wade is still the best option. We lost the game because of poor batting not poor wicket keeping.

          • September 1st 2017 @ 11:41am
            Marshall said | September 1st 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            But he contributed to the poor batting, being part of collapses in both innings. This is supposedly his strength so if his strength is to the detriement of the team in crucial situations what is the point of him?

          • September 1st 2017 @ 12:16pm
            Rob JM said | September 1st 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

            We lost by 20 runs, wade scored minus 21, so he was the difference.

            • Roar Guru

              September 1st 2017 @ 1:42pm
              Chris Kettlewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

              To an extent you could say he was -8 on the byes, because he conceded 30 and his opposite number conceded 22. So you could almost say that he netted +1 run overall.

              • September 1st 2017 @ 2:57pm
                Christo the Daddyo said | September 1st 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                Jumped the shark with that one Chris!

      • September 1st 2017 @ 10:22am
        Ross said | September 1st 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Roman admin staff have told me that they have contacted you about accusing me falsely of being a troll and I accept your apology , please don’t do that again. On wade I would look at getting handsombe or Paine to take over as wade is keeping badly and also batting badly

        • Roar Rookie

          September 1st 2017 @ 11:49am
          Lancey5times said | September 1st 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

          Yesterday you called me a racist for judging Khawaja on his cricketing performance.

          Where’s my apology?

          • September 1st 2017 @ 4:49pm
            Basil said | September 1st 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

            That’s true Lancey. Looks like Rossyboy can throw a few stones but screams the victim when they fly back at him.

        • September 1st 2017 @ 1:39pm
          George said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

          Nice one Ross. I nearly commented on that yesterday, suggesting that Ronan needn’t be so sensitive to opinions which differ from his own.

          • September 1st 2017 @ 4:53pm
            matth said | September 1st 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

            Ross however can abuse and pull out the race card whenever someone disagrees with him, apparently.

            • September 1st 2017 @ 5:06pm
              Basil said | September 1st 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

              It’s an untouchable tactic matth. Accusations of bigotry nicely deflect from a losing argument.

              • September 2nd 2017 @ 7:50pm
                ColinP said | September 2nd 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

                Has Ronan been up to his old tricks again Ross?

    • Roar Pro

      September 1st 2017 @ 7:13am
      Ben Sewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      I know it’s a novelty to our selectors, but not every keeper has to be Adam Gilchrist. I’m happy if we just find a keeper who can keep, and any runs he scores is a bonus. This Carey kid sounds good.

      • Columnist

        September 1st 2017 @ 7:39am
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Ben I tuned in to the Shield a couple of times last summer to have a look at Carey and I think he is a very fine gloveman – so sound fundamentally and terrifically agile.

        • Roar Pro

          September 1st 2017 @ 8:09am
          Ben Sewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

          Well I’m sold. I loved Nevill but if we can find a guy who’s a better keeper and is 6 years younger, than sign me up.

          • September 1st 2017 @ 10:19am
            Ross said | September 1st 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            Well said ben

        • September 1st 2017 @ 9:01am
          john ham said | September 1st 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          Ronan – good article.

          What do you think the realistic chances of pickingCarey for the Ashes will be?

          40%? 20% or Wade an auto-pick?

          • September 1st 2017 @ 1:43pm
            Matth said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

            Wade has two qualities rated highly by Lehman and possibly Smith. He talks a good game and he doesn’t get on with Glen Maxwell. I’d say as long as he doesn’t actually kill anybody he will have the gloves at the gabba.

          • Roar Guru

            September 1st 2017 @ 1:45pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

            If Wade get’s two single figures scores in the second test, and then has a poor start to the Shield while Carey has a good start to the shield with the gloves and the willow, then I’d say there’s a very high chance they’d make the call. But even with double failures in the second test, if Wade somehow managed to come out and be the best performed keeper in the first two shield rounds then I’d think they’d probably stick with him.

          • Columnist

            September 1st 2017 @ 5:04pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 1st 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

            Thanks John.

            Right now it’s hard to predict what the selectors will do because Wade’s performance in the 2nd Test will have such a major bearing.

            My gut says the selectors would love to keep Wade for the Ashes but that, if he fails in the 2nd Test and Australia lose the series 2-0, they’ll feel pressured to dump him.

            Then it would be up to who out of Nevill and Carey shines brightest in the first two rounds of the Shield.

          • Roar Guru

            September 1st 2017 @ 5:33pm
            Rellum said | September 1st 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

            I personally think Wade could stand behind the stumps and do nothing but give the middle finger to all for his next four FC games and still get picked for the ashes.

            I just can’t see them dropping him. I have been wrong in the past.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 8:00am
        Mike Dugg said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Unfortunately Ben, that time is in the past. A keeper has to bat well in this day and age. Especially with our fragile batting order.

        • September 1st 2017 @ 11:18am
          Ian Whitchurch said | September 1st 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Playing an all-rounder who is a substandard keeper will cost you both runs and wickets.

          Thats not worth 20 runs on average.

          Where did this Australian fascination with all-rounders come from ? Its like England in the 1990s.

          • September 2nd 2017 @ 1:19pm
            James said | September 2nd 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

            Flintoff in 2005.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 8:42am
        nickbrisbane said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        Pity the selectors treated Chris Hartley so badly

        • September 1st 2017 @ 8:54am
          Marshall said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Too late to bring him out of retirement?

          To think, he would have been a very useful 2-3 year stopgap after Haddin if they had elected to go down that route even after neglecting him so long.

          • Roar Guru

            September 1st 2017 @ 9:29am
            Ryan H said | September 1st 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

            I was thinking the same the other day; I know it would never happen, but Hartley is 35; so in theory he could – Haddin kept in the test side until he was 37, almost 38. It could be a stopgap for either Whiteman to gain full fitness again or Carey to prove a little more with the bat at FC level, but I think we all know it just won’t happen. I’m sure he would pull himself out of retirement for it.

        • Roar Pro

          September 1st 2017 @ 10:47am
          Ben Sewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report


        • Roar Guru

          September 2nd 2017 @ 10:53am
          Michael Keeffe said | September 2nd 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          If only they had picked Hartley 2 – 3 years ago. He’d be entrenched in the side now and would be less likely to have retired when you’re the incumbent Test keeper with a home Ashes series on the horizon.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 2:37pm
        Brendon said | September 1st 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        Had the same problem with spinners after Warne retired. Every spinner had to be immediately as good as Warne. Finally we got Lyon and selectors realised that he was a good player. Just not Warne league.

    • Roar Pro

      September 1st 2017 @ 7:33am
      Jason Rebelo said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      It boggles the mind that Wade continues to be selected. I guess being a member of the boys club is more important than actual results. It says a lot that his greatest contribution to the team since being recalled is noooice garry. Is that enough to keep him there? It’s embarrassing when he’s sledging Bangladesh but hasn’t scored any runs or taken any spectacular dismissals.

      I would throw my hat in with Alex Carey. From what I’ve heard he is the most technically correct keeper currently playing. It doesn’t matter if he averages 25-30. Our tail is very strong with Stars, Cummins both being decent batsmen, and Lyon and Hazelwood can stick around. Also, every chance missed is -30 runs, and I think wade has probably had 3 or 4 matches where he’s ended up with a positive run tally.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 8:00am
        Mike Dugg said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        It does matter with that poor average

        • September 1st 2017 @ 9:25am
          dan ced said | September 1st 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

          Wade is dropping more catches than he is scoring runs!… every contracted keeper in the state would score more runs and take more catches than him..

          I hate it when people who focus on the batting average of a record breaking keeper with 1 full season behind him, the fact that people are even considering giving Handscomb the gloves tells you how bad Wade is. Carey IS much better and WILL perform at a much higher level.

          Get him in there!

        • Roar Pro

          September 1st 2017 @ 1:03pm
          Jason Rebelo said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          Take an example of two different keepers, one averages ~38, the other ~30. Let us assume the following:

          The average runs per wicket in the past 10 years is 32. Each keeper will bat twice per test, and runs per test is 70% of their average. There are no not outs. 12 matches are played in the year.

          The keeper averaging 38 is your former opening batsmen who took the gloves because he wasn’t quite good enough with the bat, but was an alright keeper. He drops a chance once every 2 games, and takes a half chance every 3. He can’t stand up to the quick bowlers, does alright keeping to spin, but makes a lot of basic mistakes, i.e. slow to get back to the wickets for run outs, doesn’t move with the ball etc. He averages 20 byes per test.

          The keeper averaging 30 has never been stellar with the bat, but can stand up to bowlers who bowl up to 135, lets through very little byes, drops a chance once every 4 games, and takes a half chance every game. He is also quick with stumpings on spinners, and good with getting back to the stumps for run outs. He lets through an average of 15 byes per test.

          Now let’s do some maths.

          For the Batsman keeper:
          Runs per year= 638 + 6 half chances a year (6*16= 96) = 734 runs as a gross positive per year.

          Now we deduct the errors. 240 byes per year- 192 in dropped chances means the Net positive per year= 306 runs.

          For the Keeper
          Runs per year= 504 + 12 half chances (12*16=192) =696 gross runs per year as a positive.

          Now we deduct errors. 180 Byes per year – 96 in dropped catches = 420 net positive runs a year.

          The actual keeper is 37% more effective.

          Granted, most of these are assumptions, but you can see that it’s not all about runs scored when you factor in things like half chances taken, byes conceded and catches dropped. That’s not even to mention the extra confidence given to bowlers with a better keeper.

          • September 1st 2017 @ 1:21pm
            jameswm said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            I like it – a mathematical analysis.

            • September 1st 2017 @ 3:01pm
              Christo the Daddyo said | September 1st 2017 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

              Based on assumptions.

              An interesting theory, but I’m hoping the Australian selectors don’t do too much assuming when selecting the team!

          • Roar Guru

            September 1st 2017 @ 1:53pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | September 1st 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            Although, the big issue we have at the moment is the guys who were selected to be the “batsman/keeper” since Haddin have not been scoring the runs. Nevill averaged 22 and Wade 21.

            The other problem is that all the numbers you are putting forward are very hypothetical. How do you know that the “pure keeper” will let through half the buys and half the net effect of dropped catches? If you really did quantify the cost of dropped catches, you’d probably find that it would add up to significantly more than the byes let through also. So way too many iffy variables to take a lot from that “mathematical analysis”.

            • Roar Pro

              September 1st 2017 @ 2:19pm
              Jason Rebelo said | September 1st 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

              I fully admit the numbers are hypothetical. The assumption I put through was that the keeper would be 30-35% better at keeping than the batter keeper, and vice versa.

              As for the quantification of dropped catches, yes they could be more, they could be less. I went with the average runs per wicket over the past 10 years, and went with what I saw of matthew wade and dropped catches and byes.

              This was an on the fly analysis done in my lunchbreak. It might be worth writing an article with more in depth analysis with solid figures.

              • Roar Guru

                September 1st 2017 @ 5:34pm
                Rellum said | September 1st 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

                You numbers a fine and a nice way to show the value of a keeper for those that love to play moneyball.

              • September 10th 2017 @ 7:01pm
                John Erichsen said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                What relevance was there in the batting average of 38? I like figures and their analysis but not sure where 38 and 30 were plucked from. Certainly not from any recent Aussie keepers. Your point is still valid but we can only dream that the batting option keeper averages 38. Wade averages 28 and Haddin 32. Gillie (47.61) is the only Aussie keeper to average 38 or more, so it seems a little unrealistic to use that figure as a comparison. Perhaps a truer comparison is for the batting option keeper to average 32 and the keeper option to average 22 or in Wade’s case, since his recall, the batting keeper option can average 20.2?

                Our current reality strongly supports your hypothesis.

            • Roar Pro

              September 1st 2017 @ 2:19pm
              Jason Rebelo said | September 1st 2017 @ 2:19pm | ! Report

              I fully admit the numbers are hypothetical. The assumption I put through was that the keeper would be 30-35% better at keeping than the batter keeper, and vice versa.

              As for the quantification of dropped catches, yes they could be more, they could be less. I went with the average runs per wicket over the past 10 years, and went with what I saw of matthew wade and dropped catches and byes.

              This was an on the fly analysis done in my lunchbreak. It might be worth writing an article with more in depth analysis with solid figures.

        • September 1st 2017 @ 3:36pm
          Timmuh said | September 1st 2017 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

          I’d rather take the best keeper regardless, which is certainly not Wade. Its doubtful he would be first chocie with the gloves for Tasmania if not the Test incumbent, and Paine is, at best, ordinary himself with the gloves these days.

          If Wade’s saviour is his batting, the numbers since his recall suggest he’s in trouble:
          9 Tests
          253 runs
          Average 21.08
          50s 1 (an important one)
          HS 57
          In form, he can bat well. He’s not in form and hasn’t been for a while.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 8:18am
        George said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        Agreed. Picking a guy because he exemplifies bogan is plain weird.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 8:52am
        john ham said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Well said Jason, perhaps the best Roar post all week!

        I want Wade out and Carey in too

        Sadley the selectors will go with the boys club picks

    • September 1st 2017 @ 7:37am
      John360180 said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      What’s the story with Tim Pain, Ronan?
      Why no mention?

    • Columnist

      September 1st 2017 @ 7:47am
      Ronan O'Connell said | September 1st 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Paine said he was on the verge of retirement at the end of last summer John after struggling to get a regular game for Tasmania in the Shield.

      He’s about to turn 33 years old and has battled injury and form problems in red ball cricket for years now. It’s those injuries which I think stopped him from fully exploiting his considerable talent as a long form cricketer.

      It’s a pity because 6-7 years ago Paine was being spoken of as a potential future Australian captain or VC.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 11:02am
        Chui said | September 1st 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        This is what worries me about Sam Whiteman. I hope he can overcome his finger problems.

      • September 1st 2017 @ 3:02pm
        Christo the Daddyo said | September 1st 2017 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

        Can’t help but wonder what might have been if he hadn’t suffered that injury in a hit n giggle game all those years ago…

    • September 1st 2017 @ 8:03am
      Mike Dugg said | September 1st 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

      It’s a sad day when all the international keepers are better than our keeper. Rahim has a better record than all our keepers bar Gilchrist

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