- The Investec Ashes 2013
Wade bids to make his Ashes case
David Warner drastically improved his chances of taking part in the Investec Ashes over the course of a single innings for Australia A in South Africa. Now Matthew Wade is earnestly hoping to do the same, under the noses of the national selectors in the tour match against Sussex.
Warner's effort, a blistering 193, has provided inspiration for the rest of Australia's bedraggled squad even if it was made 7,000 miles away. Until that innings the nation's batting had been a laughing stock for the best part of four days, but Warner has at least provided some indication for the rest of what is possible with a little confidence.
So far on tour, Wade has been less a member of the team than the answer to a trivia question: which man apart from Michael Clarke has made a Test century in 2013? Wade's quite brilliant hundred against Sri Lanka at the SCG has since faded from view after he ceded his wicketkeeping position to the vice-captain Brad Haddin.
Nonetheless, the travails of the batsmen at Trent Bridge and Lord's have offered Wade a glimmer of opportunity and, like Warner, he is hoping to barge his way into calculations by rattling to a large score at Hove - not that he is thinking too far ahead of course.
"Any batsman who goes out and dominates and gets 150 or 200 will have a chance to play," Wade said. "But I haven't spoken to anyone about a spot coming up. I'm just excited to have a game of cricket because I've been on the sidelines for a few weeks. To go into a game thinking those sort of things is wrong thing to do. If you go into a game thinking if I get runs I will play the Test match it won't do you any good."
Wade's keeping has been the cause for most concern over his brief Test match career, but his batting is highly regarded. On several occasions when he was still a selector, the captain Michael Clarke suggested Wade would contend for a place as a batsman alone, and it is one after-effect of Adam Gilchrist's influential career that most wicketkeepers have almost had to consider themselves batsmen first.
"Gilchrist ruined it for everyone," Wade said with a laugh. "It's like being an allrounder. I feel comfortable where I'm at with keeping and batting. When I got dropped I went up to the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane for six-eight weeks and worked really hard with Ian Healy. I was going up for a couple of days at a time and did a lot of work with him and Hadds was there as well. It felt like I came a long way in that period. I was here in England for the ODIs and felt my keeping was going pretty well. Fingers crossed things keep going in that direction."
Watching from the boundary's edge, Wade has been greatly impressed by England's bowling, the best he has seen around the world so far. But he harked back to memories of the home Tests against South Africa in late 2012 for a reminder that Australia can bat should conditions and confidence dovetail effectively.
"It's been terrific and world class bowling," Wade said of England. "It's the best I've seen in the 18 months I've been around Test cricket. We knew their bowlers would be hard work. I'd love to have an opportunity to have a crack at them. We played South Africa in Australia and didn't find too many problems scoring 400-500 in an innings. Wickets were different and we have to adjust. We have to find a way. It's not impossible. We have all scored runs against very good players before."
As for the wider questions about why Australia's batting had deteriorated, Wade agreed with Usman Khawaja that the increase in the number of green Sheffield Shield pitches had been a significant factor. "First-class cricket has been hard work over past couple of years to score big runs. Pitches have not been ideal," Wade said. "They have been greener than previously and that is an issue for batmen hitting big hundreds. It is not a technical issue that players have not been scoring big runs.
"It has been great for bowlers. Batting wise it is harder but a good challenge. Everyone talks about batsmen getting big hundreds, 200s and 250s but that is a big ask in games that are only going two and a half or three days."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here