1. Article by: Posted: 24th April 2012 In: Cricket News Replies: No comments

    Not only did Matthew Wade’s explosive effort bring his Test career to life but also the final game of the 2012 Frank Worrell Trophy. It was pure entertainment from our young wicket keeper and he was on fire! After the Windies had the honors for day 1 of the Test, the 9th wicket partnership between Wadey and Ben Hilfenhaus swung the game right back into the Baggy Greens grasp.

    The pitch wasn’t a pleasant one for batting on day 1. Our batsmen have their struggles against spin but with the extra bounce on offer and turn, Shane Shillingford made a wreck in our middle order as the batting ship sunk. He took 6 wickets in the innings and bowled exceptionally well for his side. Fortunately our 24 year old wicket keeper was up for the challenge on a pitch that flattened out a bit, as he put together an innings that will hopefully be the defining one of his entrance to the elite level, following a successful home summer in limited overs cricket.

    Full scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo:

    Australian 1st innings: 328 all out. Matthew Wade 106, David Warner 50, Shane Watson 41.

    West Indies 1st innings: 8-165. Nathan Lyon 3-49, Ben Hilfenhaus 1-15.

    A batting revival:

    After being in a bit of a gloomy position after day 1, it was a batting revival of note as we steered our way to 328. A few frustrations during our innings though would be Ed Cowan walking off having just scored 1 run. Ed has done his utmost best to get into this Australian Squad. He’s performed when representing Australia A, he’s given it his all with Tasmania and followed the right system to get the call up to the side.He deserved it.

    During his first Test series against India he did a decent job with two half-centuries and seemed to get a bit of compatibility with David Warner – who had a lifeline on 5 runs when Darren Sammy spilled a sitter in the slips. A players first overseas tour is so challenging and these haven’t exactly been ideal conditions for batsmen but it certainly provides a challenge. Ed has struggled but I do hope he has a good tme in the 2nd innings just to keep the media of his back – assuming he is okay after that blow to the wrist while fielding. It’s still obvious that before the Test matches at the end of the year he will need to show his true colours again at State level. I hope he sees it as down to learning in his first overseas tour in Test cricket.

    David Warner and Shane Watson sit in a similar boat. They both have a good understanding of their games and are both naturally aggressive. They have tried to take a more cautious, conservative approach to their innings but have had their struggles to push on after getting good starts. They almost get a bit stuck in their minds as to how they should play.

    Watto has been dismissed attacking but it’s almost been soft dismissals time and time again, whereas Warner tries to fight but almost finds himself in no mans land. You expect him to attack but he gets out in the last way you’d expect him to go. What I would love to see is these guys walking the talk with that expression, “express ourselves with our natural game”. They put runs on the board and that’s what counts, even though the job was half done in their eyes.

    Ricky Ponting only made 23 runs but it put him back into the number 2 spot as the highest all time run scorer in Test cricket. He moved 1 run ahead of recently retired Rahul Dravid. Punter isn’t a notable statistics follower but it is definitely a rewarding achievement for him nevertheless.

    After being 7/169 following Ryan Harris’ dismissal it is quite an achievement that we made it to 328 all out.
    Mitchell Starc and Matt Wade were scratchy but were able to pull off the aggressive tactic really well to boggle the Windies a bit having been in control of our wickets and run rate.

    Mitchell Starc grafted hard for his 35 runs. His dismissal was a result of him simply being plain lazy with his strolling between the wickets. It was an untimely dismissal but Ben Hilfenhaus was up for the challenge. In the 102 run partnership with Wade, Hilfy scored just 19 runs but he hung around for 50 odd deliveries before Wade was caught sharply in the deep by Darren Bravo. It was another admirable fight from our tail enders once again. Surely they’re the best in the business now?

    Go for broke, Matthew Wade:

    Matt Wade: 106 runs, 146 balls, 4s (10), 6s (3), Strike-rate 72.60.
    Wagon-wheel taken from ESPN Cricinfo.com

    Now, for Matt Wade’s innings. I can’t believe anyone would be critical of the bloke. He’s in his first Test series and is still so young. Any wicket keeper debuting for Australia is going to be under immense pressure, especially knowing how Adam Gilchrist revolutionised the job world wide.

    With the exception of Adam Gilchrist given the absolutely extraordinary player he is, it took Brad Haddin 16 innings to get his first score over the 50 run mark. He scored 169 runs in that innings – no small effort. In Matt Wade’s case, it took him just 5 innings and he scored 106 runs in a time when the team was in trouble and needed him to showcase his abilities, to play the way that has brought him so many runs for the Bushrangers.

    He started off with focus and had to work with caution and patience to build his innings. Starc took on the lead role to attack but it was only until Wade brought up his half-century that the tempo of his innings changed. He attacked and did so with crisp hitting and provided plenty of entertainment. He slog swept the spin bowlers with lovely timing, especially when he blasted Shillingford for back to back sixes. I couldn’t believe how quickly he’d raced away into the nineties but he did in style! His blend of shots was enjoyable as well, showing he can do a fair bit under pressure at this level. Gilly would be proud.

    What I liked most is the way he maintained his momentum to reach his century. He didn’t go into his shell or lose confidence in his batting partner. He can thank Ben Hilfenhaus for not making him attempt a suicidal quick single on 99. Instead he regained his focus and hit a cover drive off Kemar Roach for four. It was elegant and will be engraved into his memory for the rest of his life. That is how it should be done.

    I am not one for comparisons but it is interesting to note that Adam Gilchrist’s maiden century was in that incredible fightback from Gilly and Justin Langer against Pakistan down in Hobart dating back to 1999. Having read both Gilly and JL’s books about that particular game, it was good to see how defining it was in both of their careers at different stages. As it was for Gilly, hopefully this is defining for Matt at this particularly bizarre situation he is in as Australia’s current Test keeper. The outcome of this match will certainly determine that personal momentum and motivation moving into the not too distant future.

    He is in for Brad Haddin who hasn’t retired, he was behind Tim Paine in the waiting who is making his comeback from a serious finger injury, and not only is Matt the limited overs glovesman of choice but he’s now making a serious impact behind the stumps in Test cricket even though Haddin is still being spoken of by the skipper Michael Clarke as the front line glovesman. I do think, and hope, this is just the nature of Michael to back each and every player no matter what the circumstances as are.

    Well done Matt and hope there’s many, many more innings like this to come!

    Our bowling performance:

    Ben Hilfenhaus has become the top order destroyer this series as he picked up the first wicket of the innings. Of the Windies 5 innings this series, he has claimed the first wicket of the innings in 4 innings. He has also dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite in 3 of his 4 innings this series. Hilfy has a habit of finding a particular victim or “bunny”. Ravi Bopara (England), Virender Sehwag (India) and now Brathwaite.

    The Windies did manage to get into a good position until Nathan Lyon got the breakthrough dismissing Adrian Barath caught by Ed Cowan at short leg. Two of Lyon’s wickets would be caught by Cowan at short leg while David Warner’s wicket – the BIG one of Darren Bravo – was also as a result of a catch by Cowan at the same position.

    Cowan also managed a run out, with a direct hit finding Darren Sammy short of his ground. Where he didn’t make do with the bat, he certainly did with his contributions in the field!

    Nathan Lyon was able to still flight the ball but get wonderful bounce off the track. Shane Shillingford has made use of the conditions brilliantly to get his 6 wickets but our boy Nathan wasn’t far behind as he took three wickets as a result of bowling with his natural attributes but using the conditions to aid him.

    Our fast bowlers had to work hard but even Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc managed to get into the wicket takings list. It was another tactical display from Michael Clarke where he rotated his bowlers at regular intervals, just keeping the Windies guessing and asking enough questions to get the answers he needed. That rotation worked brilliantly against India over the summer and Clarkey now has a very good idea if his team and will start to understand them far better to use in strategic ways in the heat of the battle.

    The Windies weren’t going to let us mow them that easily. Their very own maestro Shivanrine Chanderpaul – who brings out the best fight against us – fought like a wounded dog as his mates fell around him. He is still at the crease on 34*. Ravi Rampaul managed 24. The final over was quite entertaining as Hilfy and Ravi shared some “friendly” glances and verbal exchanges.

    The Verdict:
    A day to fondly remember Matthew Wade’s maiden Test century, just before Anzac Day (West Indian time). It was an effort that seemed natural and I hope it was the first of many to come. He’s given it his best this series and that’s all you can ask for from our team. You support the boys and when it’s all done it’s better to then dissect everything, but he’s made an impact this series now with the bat and what a way to do it. It could prove to be not only defining for his own game but the actual game in progress as well.

    The Baggy Greens have this match well under control right now. We’ve got the lead by 163 runs and with three days of cricket to come (rain and bad light aside) we’re definitely in a position to confidently eye a 2-0 result but there’s still cricket action to come.

    The key for tomorrow is wrap up the Windies as soon as possible like we did on the final day of the 2nd Test.

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