Mitchell Marsh’s recent success and the possible return of Steven Smith have added to the crush at the top of the order
The game of musical chairs in Australia’s T20I batting line-up will continue, with Matthew Wade set to play in the middle order during the series in Bangladesh, with that now being his likely position at the World Cup in October.It is a change of plans from what was spoken about ahead of the West Indies series last month, when Wade said he expected to bat in the top three alongside Aaron Finch and David Warner. However, Mitchell Marsh’s success in the West Indies, where he made 219 runs batting at No. 3, and the potential return of Steven Smith from injury have added to the crush for top-order spots, meaning that Wade, who will lead the side in the absence of Finch, will probably have to find a berth lower down.
“It’s something I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I’ve been up the top for three years and feel like any time called upon I can do a good job up there, so to go back into the middle order is a challenge I’m excited to do. It doesn’t faze me too much, whatever needs to be done.
“Then once the World Cup comes around, whether than means I go back up the top or stay in the middle order we aren’t 100% sure. The way Mitch has come out and played at No. 3 that’s certainly another option for us at the top. He could open as well if we needed him to. So we are probably rolling through a few different scenarios of where guys can fit in the best team come the World Cup.”
Wade batted at No. 6 in the last match against West Indies – he made 26 off 18 balls – and when he returned to the T20I side last year in South Africa, he was in the middle order. Most of his innings in the latest stage of his career have been opening, although in total he has played 19 of his 34 T20I innings at No. 4 or lower.
“Feel like I have a few more tricks than I had a few years ago and the advantage in these five games is that I can get in there and see what works and what doesn’t”
Across his full T20I career, he has a strike rate of 117.40 batting at No. 4 and below, compared to 137.61 overall and 144.57 when batting in the top three. But he believes he now has the game to adapt to the middle order as Australia continue to search for their finishers.
“Thankfully I’ve played for Australia in the middle order a lot, especially in one-day cricket and even T20 have probably played 50-50 [of my innings],” he said. “It’s probably more a chance to get there now and get some more work in, I haven’t done it for three years so it certainly has its challenges compared to opening the batting but it’s a good opportunity to do it.
“I’ll find a way to make it work and win some games” – Matthew Wade NurPhoto via Getty Images
“I’ll find a way to make it work and win some games. Things I probably didn’t have seven or eight years ago in my game I feel like I’ve added – laps and things like that – which are really important towards the back end. Feel like I have a few more tricks than I had a few years ago and the advantage in these five games is that I can get in there and see what works and what doesn’t.”
Filling the middle-order positions has been a long-running challenge for Australia in T20Is. Dan Christian and Ashton Turner, who were late additions to this squad after players withdrew, have been selected on the back of their roles in the BBL and will likely get more opportunity in Bangladesh.
Wade believes Australia have to find a solution that works for the players they have and that while every country “would like an Andre Russell” that will not be the case.
“We’ve got guys who aren’t here who can come in and do a really good job. We all know what Maxi [Glenn Maxwell] can do towards the end of an innings,” he said. “No secret that every country would like an Andre Russell, not everyone has one. We are going to it differently to the way West Indies do it, we don’t have as much power probably as what they have got but we’ll find someone to do a good job come the World Cup.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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