Wade given chance to buck Aussie T20 trend
Australia is adamant Matthew Wade can prove he is perhaps the one exception to its rule that role-specific specialists will win them the Twenty20 World Cup.
The brave decision by selectors to ignore BBL superstar Marcus Stoinis and other destroyers like Chris Lynn is based on a conviction that picking your best players is very different to picking your best team in Twenty20 cricket.
Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith are Australia's most accomplished 1, 2 and 3, so therefore there's no room for Stoinis, with past failures at World Cups telling selectors that you can't manufacture a top order batsman like him in other positions in T20 cricket, no matter how great the temptation might be.
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But Wade, as Glenn Maxwell's replacement at No.4, is arguably the one player in Australia's new mandated structure not batting in his best position.
Wade has excelled as a middle-order batsman in Test and one-day cricket, but in the T20 form his best work has been done at the top.
CricViz says that while there's nothing wrong with Wade's average of 22 in his 63 matches not opening in Twenty20s, his run-rate per over is down on "expectations" when he's not at the top.
Maxwell - well versed as a No.4 - will of course come back into contention after his elbow surgery, but it's not necessarily automatic he would slot straight back in if Wade can take his chance.
Australia believes Wade has the versatility and gears in his game to ensure he is the one round peg who can fit into a different hole.
"I don't think for a guy of his caliber (it will be a huge adjustment)," said T20 vice-captain, Alex Carey.
"He is proven now. As a batter in Test match cricket and in the BBL, he's dominating and he has experience with the ODI team years ago in those middle overs.
"He's a quality player who will grab this opportunity with both hands, no doubt.
"On a tough wicket (on Friday night at The Wanderers) I thought his little cameo there was great. He kept the foot on the throat and big Mitch (Marsh, at No.5), you'll see the best of him too soon."
Exhibit A for Australia's new role-playing strategy is their disastrous World Cup campaign four years ago where an attempt to cram the top four with too many cooks, spoilt the broth.
Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson were in excellent form leading into the 2016 tournament, and because it was felt they couldn't play any position other than open, Warner was bumped down to No.3 or 4 and Finch was axed.
Needless to say it ended in tears, with batting order brimming with talent that was unable to gel or find any rhythm.
However, Warner - a veteran of World Cups and Twenty20 cricket - feels Australia has finally found the right formula.
A team that has now won eight matches on the trot, with different gears and players who all know exactly what their role is.
"We're very role specific at the moment and I think that's great for guys to rest easy on and know what they're doing at training is (is preparing them) to go out in the middle and try to prove a point out there," said Carey, who, after himself being trialled at different places in the order, now has his focus set on nailing down No.6.
"The way we're training has been fantastic the last 12-18 months. We were close in the one day world cup and I think the guys now are really settled, the top four are unbelievable batters.
"Throw Maxwell in there as well. With the ball we know what we're doing there with the three quicks and the two spinners at the moment doing a fantastic job.
"It'd be nice if we stay settled. A settled side is normally winning."