The wicketkeeper-batsman emerges as unlikely hero in Australia’s semifinal victory
The ICC limited overs knockout tournaments have seen the emergence of some of the unlikeliest heroes who have excelled under pressure.
From New Zealand’s Grant Elliott in the 2015 World Cup semifinal against South Africa, to Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman in the 2017 Champions Trophy final (versus India), to New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell two nights ago against England, the list has a few characters who have shined more than the stars in their line-ups.
On Thursday night at the Dubai International Cricket Academy, Matthew Wade joined the list by helping Australia end Pakistan’s unbeaten run in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semifinal. Wade’s unbeaten 17-ball 41, and his lap-shot assault on pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, deservedly gave the wicketkeeper-batter the player of the match award.
What makes Wade stand out more than the rest is the fact that he has been around the international scene for almost a decade. In fact, three years ago, when he was dropped from Australia’s squad across all three formats, Wade’s international career seemed to be all but over.
Forcing his way back
Since then, the left-hander has forced his way back into the team as a specialist batter and even led Australia occasionally in limited overs.
“I am happy that I got the opportunity to go away, come back, reinvent myself, and feel like I belong at the international level now,” Wade said, after Australia set up a final against New Zealand, riding on Wade and Marcus Stoinis’ exploits.
Having been in and out of the side for a decade now, Wade’s career resembles more to some of his subcontinental counterparts than those Down Under.
“I don’t know when my last game will be. I am sure when it’s all over, when I get the tap on the shoulder, I’ll look back on the last three or four years and be proud of the way I could come back,” Wade said.
“It’s not the first time I have come back. I have been been dropped four or five times, probably the most in Australian cricket. I am proud that I can come back and hopefully at the end of my career I can look back on what’s left and be proud that I could contribute to what we have done.”