Matthew Wade will make his Birmingham Bears debut away to Yorkshire Vikings tomorrow fresh from starring as the standout performer in Australia's Tri-Nations Cup triumph in the Caribbean.
Two weeks ago the Aussies lifted the Tri-Nation Cup in Barbados with a 58-run victory in the final in which Wade's 52-ball unbeaten 57 was crucial. That innings, which lifted his side from an uneasy 173 for six to an imposing 270, arrived at the end of a tour on which Australia's interim coach Justin Langer reflected that Wade had been consistently the best batsmen in practice throughout the trip.
So the 28-year old, who has joined Birmingham as replacement for Luke Ronchi who was called away on international duty with New Zealand, could not be arriving in better form.
"Matt is an exciting cricketer who has come to us in excellent form," said Birmingham director of cricket Dougie Brown.
"He has just scored some important runs in the Caribbean and he scored them on some tricky pitches out there. He will hopefully be playing on some better surfaces here and we are excited to have him on board.
"He is a really good addition to the squad and we will be looking to him to bring his experience and quality to bear in that number four or five spot in the order, just as he has done to such good effect many times for Australia and did decisively in the Tri-Nations final two weeks ago.
"We thank Roncs for what he did for us. He showed his quality and had an important input into the team in a number of games, especially with his match-winning half-century against Lancashire Lightning. He's a top guy and we wish him all the best in the Tests with New Zealand."
While Ronchi strives to continue his belatedly-begun Test match career with the Black Caps, the Bears will travel to Leeds tomorrow in search of another Blast victory as they continue to challenge in all competitions this season.
Five wins and one no-result from eight games have left Birmingham strongly-placed in the North Group.
But they will face a Vikings team desperate for victory. Having won only two of eight games so far, Yorkshire know that another defeat tonight would pretty much extinguish their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
For the Bears, the objective is to shed last Friday's defeat to the Steelbacks straight from their system.
"In a 14-game group you are not going to win every game," Brown said. "We played poorly last Friday and, credit to Northamptonshire, they took advantage. But we have played a lot of good, strong T20 cricket this season so we have just got to get back to that."
Birmingham Bears Squad
- Ian Bell (Captain)
- Liam Banks
- Rikki Clarke
- Recordo Gordon
- Laurie Evans
- Sam Hain
- Oliver Hannon-Dalby
- Ateeq Javid
- Matt Lamb
- George Panayi
- Jeetan Patel
- Josh Poysden
- Aaron Thomason
- Matthew Wade (Wicket-Keeper)