Glovework questioned … Matthew Wade. Photo: Brendan Esposito
AS BRAD HADDIN made his first international appearance in almost a year, his rested successor - Matthew Wade - faced a stinging appraisal of his right to remain Australia's preferred wicketkeeper.
Haddin performed solidly with the bat, scoring 10 not out focusing totally on supporting David Hussey, and also took three catches. The second of the veteran's catches, of top-scorer Dinesh Chandimal for 73 off Clint McKay, was a stunning one-handed effort after diving full-length to his right.
After Wade last week scored a dashing unbeaten Test century against Sri Lanka, Australia's most capped Test wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, predicted a rosy future for him because ''he's got all the skills and the ability so he'll get there'' and that confidence gained from his batting exploits would benefit his glovework. While Healy last week said he was not enamoured with Wade's glovework, describing it as ''a bit tense at the moment'', his support for the Victorian has seemingly waned.
Healy deemed Wade's wicketkeeping over the summer's six Tests so lax that selectors should replace him or habitually select another gloveman on tours as a ''practice partner and someone breathing down his neck who make sure he gets all those [basic] things done''.
''He didn't have a good summer with the gloves at all,'' Healy told Radio Sports National. ''He's not getting to the stumps [after deliveries], not taking returns well, not sharpening up the fielding effort. Even those basic disciplines weren't being created, let alone [considering his] missed dismissals. Nathan Lyon wouldn't have been that happy. There were four or five chances that were missed from his bowling, as he's getting criticised for not taking wickets. They're all internal conflicts of an under-achieving wicketkeeper.''
Wade, Healy said, must ''look at what Brad Haddin is doing and try to find a way to get it done himself''.
In Tests this summer, Wade scored 312 runs at an average of 44.57, claimed 23 dismissals and conceded 28 byes. Last summer Haddin, a decade older than Wade, exceeded Wade's dismissal tally by four, matched him for byes but was outshone with the bat, scoring 186 runs at an average of 31.
Healy last week told Fairfax Media after Wade's SCG innings the left-hander ''has got this ability with the bat, like Adam Gilchrist, to bat with the tail and then explode on his own to get a hundred when there is not much left''. He has since said Gilchrist, who replaced him behind the stumps in the Test team in 1999, was ideal as wicketkeeper because the team he was part of possessed ''a great bowling attack that created more chances than you needed''.
''We haven't got an attack like that now. We've got an attack that if you need 20 wickets in a Test they [bowlers] might create 18, and you need a half chance here or there or a great run-out to get over the line. That's where you don't need a wicketkeeper missing stuff,'' Healy said. ''Right now, Australian cricket in the Test form … needs the best wicketkeeper. We've got to find out who that is - someone who's not making mistakes.''