Wading In

Somerset's unexpected signing of Matthew Wade was announced this morning. What will the Tasmanian batsman bring to Taunton?

Well we didn’t see that coming did we? Many were expecting a red-ball Babar Azam, some (like me) were hoping for a Matty Renshaw reunion but the name of Matthew Wade was a complete shock.

Initially I was disappointed with the signing for “the first seven championship games”, but then you remember that the structure of the 2020 Championship season makes it unrealistic to sign any overseas player for the whole season. While Somerset were silent on the point in their announcement Wade should be available for the second half of the Championship unless Australia holds a training camp in late summer / early autumn.

Tasmanian who returned home in 2017 after a decade with Victoria during which he became State captain. He had initially moved away from the island state to further his wicketkeeping aspirations. That move proved very successful, resulting in his being selected in that role by the national selectors in all three formats replacing the long-time incumbent Brad Haddin.

In the wake of the controversy in South Africa in 2017 Wade, who had lost the gloves following a run of poor performances, found himself becoming a specialist middle-order batsman.

Wade, who has a not un-Australian reputation for being combative, had a major brush with the authorities in 2013 when he was found guilty of ball-tampering in a Sheffield Shield game. During the compilation of a century, ironically against Tasmania in Hobart, Wade was found to have created a 

“long valley within the protected area”. He denied the umpires’ verdict but was found guilty by a full disciplinary committee resulting in a fine of 50% of his match fee and a one-match suspension.

Wade also has an issue with colour-blindness which means that he struggles to pick up the pink ball in day-night tests. He played in the first test in Perth last week under the lights and contributed only 17 & 12 in Australia’s two innings. 

Wade has near-identical test and first-class batting averages of just over 50. He has made 17 first-class hundreds and 4 test centuries.

Wade played six T20s for Warwickshire in 2016.

While Somerset need some batting reinforcement, it isn’t entirely clear where Wade will fit in the Somerset order. My initial guess is that he will replace Tom Banton, who will be unavailable on IPL duty,  in the middle order. The chances of Wade competing with Steven Davies for the wicketkeeper’s gloves seem slim given Wade’s recently scare appearances as ‘keeper .  

Some observers have, in the past, seen Wade’s on-field persona as being on the wrong side of abrasive. I am going to keep an open mind on that one for now and hope that it will be this “Tasmanian Devil’s” weight of runs that upsets the opposition next season. 

If you want to get a look at Somerset’s newest signing Wade is currently involved in Australia’s Test series with New Zealand. He is expected to play in the Boxing Day test in Melbourne this week.