Matthew Wade’s international journey has been as varied as they come, but Tim Paine believes the makeshift opener enters the Boxing Day Test in career-best form.
The Tasmanian started off life as a wicketkeeper batting at No.7, before earning a recall in the middle-order for last year’s Ashes after two years in the wilderness.
But with David Warner’s injury, Wade was thrown to the top of the order to partner an under-siege Joe Burns for the opening Test against India.
While Warner is an automatic inclusion once he is fit, Paine is adamant Wade will continue to flourish at Test level.
“He’ll do a great job for us whether he bats one through to seven. He’s a flexible cricketer; he’s shown that in all forms of the game,” Paine said.
“He’s another guy who I think is actually improving the older he gets.
“He’s come back into the Australian side and batted in a number of different positions in white-ball and red-ball cricket.”
Australia will be out to maintain the heat on India when a capped crowd of 30,000 enters the MCG for the second Test in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series.
India could make up to five changes from the team that was routed for a record-low of 36 at the Adelaide Oval last week.
Talismanic captain Virat Kohli (parental leave) and fast bowler quick Mohammed Shami (broken arm) are already forced omissions, while opener KL Rahul and explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant are in line for recalls.
The Test looms as a special event for Victorians with the game to be the first sporting contest played in front of a crowd in Melbourne since Australia’s women’s team won the Twenty20 World Cup final in March.
The life of Australian batting great Dean Jones will be celebrated during the tea break on day one after the proud Victorian died of a heart attack in September.