Gloves off: Wade vows to ramp up concentration levels at MCG
Beaten … Matthew Wade can't stop one down leg side. Photo: AP
AS MATTHEW WADE points out, no one realises they're not concentrating until after the key moment has past. Like common sense, it's only obvious afterwards.
''Once the moment's gone you think, 'Was I there 100 per cent?' That's the question you keep asking yourself,'' Wade said of the missed chances of late that have dampened his first home summer as Australia's Test wicketkeeper.
Wade made no attempt to shy away from several big disappointments behind the stumps this summer, and is confident his issue is not a technical one. But there's no quick fix to being able to apply himself longer.
''It's probably concentration. I've definitely done enough technically, I've done enough at training. That's all I can go back to, finding a way to concentrate for a longer period of time and working on it at training,'' he said. ''Every keeper misses chances, it's as simple as that. I know I'm going to miss chances, but I would like to have a bigger gap between missed chances than one Test match.''
Fortunately for Wade, the low point of a difficult game with the gloves in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Hobart - a missed stumping off Nuwan Kulasekara, when Nathan Lyon's delivery ended up hitting him above the wrists - did not ultimately cost Australia.
But it is understandable why Wade felt a pang of deja vu in Hobart as Australia chased victory, from three weeks earlier in Adelaide, where Michael Clarke's team could not bowl out South Africa on the final day, and a dropped chance off Faf du Plessis was considered the half-chance the Australians could not grasp. ''You can't miss chances behind the stumps, it's as simple as that, especially in Test cricket,'' he said.
Wade was standing up to Ben Hilfenhaus when the du Plessis nick came and fell, but he also missed a stumping chance during Graeme Smith's first-innings century.
Wade said he could not afford to dwell on past mistakes as he prepared for his first Test at his adopted home, the MCG, which starts on his 25th birthday.
But as he seeks answers on how he can keep all his focus on the game, he can expect teammates to ensure he has an extra dollop of pudding on Christmas Day or another slice of toast on his birthday before play.
''I get nervous a lot, so I probably tend not to eat enough during the day,'' he said. ''It's little things like that, nutrition. Concentration is something you've got to be able to switch on and off, so I'm learning every day I play a Test match how to do that and as long as I can continue to improve, things will be right.''
A meeting with Adam Gilchrist after the Adelaide Test assured Wade he was doing everything he could to improve his wicketkeeping, and he has vowed not to let the reprieve he gave du Plessis sway him from standing up to quicker bowlers because ''that's when a wicketkeeper comes into the game''.
But he admitted to being taken aback at the pressure that came with an elevation to the Test team, especially after the relative comfort of playing his first three Tests in the Caribbean. ''Home Test matches, definitely there's a little bit more pressure on the players,'' he said.
''But that's what we get paid to do, we get paid to perform under pressure on the big stage.''