Matthew Wade did not need a long conversation with Australia’s selectors after being dropped for the Test squad, knowing he missed the chance to keep his spot in the side against India but insisted he has no regrets about taking on the opening role early in the series.
Wade was elevated to the top of the order when Australia were hit by an opening crisis ahead of the Tests due to injuries to David Warner and Will Pucovski. He made scores 8, 33, 30 and 40 before returning to the middle order for the final two Tests with scores of 13, 4, 45 and 0. That wasn’t enough to make the cut for the now-postponed South Africa tour, although the flip side for Wade is that he has the chance to play T20Is in New Zealand in a World Cup year.
“I’ve been around long enough [to know] that if you don’t perform at my age at a high level then your spot will be up, and if the team isn’t winning then there’s more chance of something like that happening,” Wade said. “I don’t need to dive into it too much, I know where I’m at and comfortable with what I did. There was always someone who was probably going to get left out when we lost the series and that was me.”
Trevor Hohns, the national selector, referred to Wade’s seniority when he was dropped while saying they saw more “up side” in Travis Head who was retained despite losing his Test place during the summer.
Wade believes converting one of his starts into a substantial score would have been enough to retain his place, right down to the penultimate innings of the series when he was well set before top-edging a pull to mid-on, which was followed in the last innings by a nick down the leg side.
“The only regret I have is not turning one of my starts into a big score,” he said. “I batted really well at the top of the order…so the two games I opened I actually batted as good as I did all series. Even the last Test I batted really well, got 40-odd, then got booted down the leg side in the last innings. That’s the way the gods can treat you sometimes, it’s a bit cruel, but I had the opportunities to turn those starts into big scores. If you don’t do it, this is what happens.”
Having missed out in the IPL action, Wade is set to have two Sheffield Shield matches for Tasmania when he returns from the tour of New Zealand but his focus will be on team success rather than worrying about making a statement to the selectors. “I’ve never been a player that goes back and just individually wants to score runs for himself, it’s about trying to win games,” he said.
The immediate trade-off for Wade is a chance to build on his successful returns in the T20Is against India earlier in the season when he made 58 and 80 opening in place of the injured Warner and in the second match of the series he captained Australia when Aaron Finch was injured.
Wade has been confirmed in the top three for the series against New Zealand, alongside Finch and the uncapped Josh Philippe, although the order may be flexible but he expects to take the keeping gloves throughout the five matches.
Due to pre-tour biosecurity protocols it wasn’t possible to amend the T20I squad after the South Africa trip was canned, meaning a number of players who would normally have been selected are instead playing Sheffield Shield cricket.
“Not going to South Africa wasn’t a great result for all the players in that squad,” Wade said. “It’s an unfortunate situation for them that they haven’t had the opportunity to come to New Zealand because that tour fell through. For me personally it’s nice to be away, playing five T20s is a big positive given I wasn’t going to be going to South Africa. It’s the way the cards were dealt. Grateful got the opportunity to be here with a younger squad.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.