''THAT'S why he's the Test keeper,'' Mike Hussey said of Matthew Wade, who enhanced his reputation for producing runs under pressure when he took Victoria to victory over Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield game at the MCG on Saturday.
Six days before his maiden home Test against South Africa, Wade made a feisty and unbeaten 50 that revealed many of the qualities behind his selection ahead of the experienced Brad Haddin.
Hussey, the opposing captain at the MCG, will become a Test teammate at the Gabba on Friday, and paid tribute to the calm competitiveness that should hold the 24-year-old in good stead against the formidable Proteas attack.
''He showed it again today, under pressure. That will be great for his confidence to have a bit of time in pressure situations leading into the first Test,'' Hussey said.
Wade and impressive young all-rounder Alex Keath (18 not out) joined forces at 5-99, after Victoria lost three quick wickets in pursuit of the victory target of 168.
The left-hander released the shackles with three sixes - two dispatched over mid-wicket and the third hit long and straight - part of a pre-meditated plan to get after the spin of Michael Beer.
''It's a weird feeling batting in that situation,'' Wade said. ''I don't feel really pressured, to be honest, I feel comfortable that I've been there before, and that if I can work with the other blokes down the other end we can get the job done.
''The wicket was doing enough to warrant that when the spin came on we had to be aggressive. I think we needed 50-odd runs when he [Beer] was bowling. If you get a couple away and all of a sudden to get it under 40 [required], it starts to look a bit nicer on the scoreboard.''
The 72-run stand between Wade and Keath completed Victoria's come-from-behind win, by five wickets, within three days. The Bushrangers conceded first-innings points, but Clint Mckay batted them back into the match with a staunch innings of 65.
A withering second-innings bowling effort from James Pattinson (4-42) put the Warriors on the back foot. The young Test quick nicked out Adam Voges and bowled Tom Triffitt in the opening overs on Saturday, and Jayde Herrick finished off the visiting team's second innings with two wickets in two balls.
The target of 168 looked like a tricky one when Peter Handscomb, given a torrid working over by Mitchell Johnson in the first innings, was bowled by the left-armer for eight in the second.
The Bushrangers slumped to 2-21 when captain Cameron White, on four, drove a simple catch to mid-on.
Chris Rogers and David Hussey put on 76 before Rogers was thumped on the pad by Jason Behrendorff and given out lbw for 44.
The subsequent mini-collapse gave the Warriors a whiff of hope.
Hussey chastised himself for a pull shot gone wrong, while Aaron Finch was given out lbw to Beer.
Hussey was proud of the Warriors' effort after a turbulent week, following the Perth Scorchers' boozy night at the Champions League and captain Marcus North's resignation.
''It's disappointing to go down in the end but I was actually really proud of the guys' performance,'' he said.
''We've had a tumultuous couple of weeks and we've been able to put the distractions aside and play a brand of cricket that is competitive against almost a Test-standard Victorian team and have them under pressure.
''Once we start doing the basics of the game well, and for longer, that's when we'll start winning games of cricket.''
Chloe Saltau is the chief cricket writer at The Age, regularly covering international cricket and providing news, comment and analysis on international cricket. She joined The Age as a trainee in 1998 and spent several years writing for general news (chiefly as a social policy reporter covering welfare and family issues) before moving to sport.
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