Matt Wade is ready to make the most of his surprise chance in English cricket by helping to fire Birmingham Bears towards NatWestT20Blast glory.
The Australian wicketkeeper/batsman will be at the heart of matters for Birmingham in the rest of their Blast campaign after replacing Luke Ronchi who was called away on international duty with New Zealand.
Wade arrives with plenty of top-level experience from 12 Tests, 68 ODIs and 25 T20Is for the Aussies, as well as spells with Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League and Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash.
Most recently, the 28-year-old starred in Australia’s Tri-Nations Cup triumph in the Caribbean last month where his 52-ball unbeaten 57 was crucial to his side’s 58-run victory in the final. Australia’s interim coach Justin Langer observed that Wade was consistently the best batsmen in practice throughout the trip.
Now the Hobart-born player turns his attention to the Blast – and the Bears’ big double-header this weekend against Worcestershire Rapids at New Road on Friday and Leicestershire Foxes at Edgbaston on Sunday.
And he took a break from training in the Edgbaston gym today to express his excitement at his move to Birmingham.
“I’ve toured over here with Australia so have a little bit of experience here,” Wade said. “But it’s nice to join a county and see what it’s really all about.
“It’s lovely to have my family over here and a chance to experience life in England away from day-to-day touring.
“The move wasn’t planned at all but Roncks got called up for New Zealand so I got the call. I was going to head back to Australia and get stuck into pre-season work with all the running and fitness side of things, so it’s a good opportunity to come and play some cricket instead.
“It was disappointing that we lost on my debut last Friday but we are still in a good position in the group and a couple of wins will put us in a great place to qualify. Now it will be good to play a couple of back-to-back games this weekend. I have had a few hits in the week but it will be great to get out there and play some games and get some rhythm. If we can win on Friday and get some momentum going we’ll have a great chance of going through.”
Wade’s time with the Bears is his first stint in county cricket, but he is well-acquainted with the English game.
“When you play around the world in various T20 comps, you keep your eye on things so I know a bit about the Blast in England and what’s going on,” he said. “It’s been great to see first-hand the good young players coming through like Sam Hain. I didn’t know he was originally from Australia so I’ll have to try to poach him back! I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon…”
Birmingham will be looking for batting fireworks from Wade at New Road tomorrow as they seek to get their Blast campaign advancing again after successive defeats.
“I’m really looking forward to the big derby,” he said. “Phillip Hughes played for Worcestershire, of course, and he raved about Worcester so I knew about it and then we played there in a tour game when we were over for the last Ashes. I didn’t play but ran some drinks for the boys for four days and it’s a lovely ground with a nice wicket so I can’t wait to play there.”