Matthew Wade claims he is starting to feel comfortable batting in the middle order for Australia as the team searches for a closer.
With the majority of Australia’s best batsmen natural openers, coach Justin Langer and skipper Aaron Finch have been keen to bolster the middle order.
An opener himself in the Big Bash, Wade averages 23.53 and strikes at 145.13 when batting in Australia’s top four. He also strikes a boundary one in every 5.3 balls there.
But when he bats at No.5 or below, it’s an entirely different story.
His average drops to 14.87 and strike-rate dips below run-a-ball to 96.54, while boundaries come once in every 13.59 balls.
“The biggest challenge is obviously the five guys out (outside of the powerplay),” Wade said ahead of Thursday night’s Twenty20 World Cup clash with Sri Lanka.
“When you get to open the batting you don’t have to deal with that so much. That’s no doubt the biggest challenge.
“But over here, speaking to the guys that played IPL, the players that did really well towards the back end just played really good cricket shots.
“They opened the whole field up and didn’t shut one side of the ground off.”
In fairness to Wade, the majority of his innings batting below No.5 have come early in his career, before his second coming as an Australian player.
His only recent experience batting in the middle came in Bangladesh and West Indies this year where he hit scores of 26, 13 and four.
But there are signs of change.
His effort to get Australia home with Marcus Stoinis against South Africa last week showed fight, as the pair struck 18 off the last two overs to win the match.
It also marked just the second time he has been not out at the end of a winning chase when batting in the middle or lower order for Australia.
It also came off limited cricket in the build up, with Wade not playing any domestic matches due to the pandemic and facing just three balls in the two warm-up matches.
“I’m starting to feel reasonably comfortable,” Wade said.
“I’ve done it (in the middle order) for a long, long period of time. I just probably haven’t gone back there for the last few years.
“Going forward in the tournament, I’m probably more excited than anything about just getting out there and trying to finish some games for the team.”
TALE OF TWO WADES:
Balls per boundary: 5.3
NO.5 AND BELOW: