Confident Wade not looking too far ahead

Has Brad Haddin played his last one-day match for Australia? Matthew Wade is not allowing himself to think that way, but it is a scenario that becomes more likely with every game Wade plays.

Updated: February 05, 2012 20:48 IST
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Melbourne: Has Brad Haddin played his last one-day match for Australia? Matthew Wade is not allowing himself to think that way, but it is a scenario that becomes more likely with every game Wade plays. Two Man-of-the-Match performances for Australia in the past week have confirmed Wade as a player of international standard, and it would be a brave selection panel to drop him later in the series.

For now, Wade, 24, has been picked for the first three matches of the tournament. The national selector John Inverarity said when announcing the squad that Haddin, 34, was rested, but Haddin took issue with that wording and said he felt as if he had been dropped. Either way, Wade is doing his best to make the limited-overs wicketkeeping position permanently his own.

His 67 in Australia's win over India at the MCG was the sixth-best score by an Australia ODI debutant, and he showed no nerves facing the reigning World Cup holders. That followed scores of 72 and 32 in the two Twenty20 internationals, but despite his strong form Wade insists he is looking no further ahead than the three matches for which he has been chosen.

"I think that would be a bad option for me," Wade said. "I just want to do as well as I can in the three games for which I've been picked. If you look too far ahead you don't know what's going to happen. It's a pretty fickle game that we play. From day to day it changes. You've just got to live in the moment and concentrate on the next ball. It's pretty clichéd but that's what I'm doing.

"The environment that I'm in, the Australian cricket team, no one is talking about what will happen down the road. Everyone is just focusing on the next game; all our planning, all our meetings, all the stuff we do is pretty much for the next game that we're going to play. It's all about what we can do in the present moment."

For Wade, that means making runs and taking catches. Given the chance to open alongside David Warner, he anchored the innings either side of a long rain delay, displaying impressive concentration and temperament. He does not have the power of Warner but rarely gets bogged down, and he has looked comfortable at international level. It has not all been easy, though.

"The intensity," he said when asked what was the major difference from domestic cricket. "When Mike [Michael] Hussey walked out and started running between the wickets like he was there was definitely a step up in intensity. I think that's the major thing. Everything is just a bit faster. When you have to run with Mike it's even harder."

He did not have much trouble keeping up with Hussey, although twice during his innings he needed to dive full length to make his ground. At 170 centimetres, he does not have the stretch of some of his colleagues. That has not hurt his effectiveness with the bat, nor with the gloves. In Friday's T20 he took a terrific catch diving to his right to get rid of Virat Kohli.

In the first ODI he pouched a pair of catches and one of them, Gautam Gambhir's edge to a rising ball from Mitchell Starc, came through with surprising bounce at an awkward height. Effortlessly, Wade switched his hands from facing downwards to skywards, and he gloved the ball with no problem. His critics have questioned whether his glovework is up to international standard, but Wade believes he has never been in better form behind the stumps.

"I definitely feel like I'm keeping as well as I ever have," he said. "To be in the environment of the Australian cricket team, I'm catching more balls every day. Things are going really well. I feel on top of my game."

For now, he has two more matches to present his credentials. After that, it's up to Inverarity and Co. to decide whether he wins the job permanently. Haddin will be watching on nervously.

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