Amidst the growing chatter surrounding India’s reluctance to travel to Brisbane to play the final Test due to stricter quarantine protocols in the state, Matthew Wade has said that Australia wouldn’t prefer moving the final Test. The final game of the four-match series is scheduled to be played from January 15 at the Gabba – a venue where India have never won a Test.
One of the options out there for India is to play back-to-back Tests in Sydney where the third Test begins on Thursday, with the touring party unhappy about undergoing another strict quarantine in Brisbane after the one that lasted 14 days upon their arrival in Australia. Sydney itself had recorded fresh COVID-19 cases not too long ago, which had put the third Test being played there in doubt. However, it was eventually given the green light.
“I have not heard of this, but we obviously prefer not to (play back-to-back in Sydney),” said Wade on Sunday (January 3). “The schedule has been rolled out and we prefer to stick to that. Regardless, if that is a quarantine-based hotel, go to the ground, play and come back. Cricket Australia have been firm that they will stick to the schedule that we rolled out at the start of the summer so we fully expect to play at Gabba. There is no secret that we would love to play at Gabba. Harder quarantine and stricter biosecurity protocols will be there. But we are ready for more sacrifice and face more challenges.
“From our position, there is no uncertainty, we are going to play at the SCG and then playing at the Gabba until we are told that it is going to change. So, we are rolling to the next game expecting what is going to be. It is out of our control and there is nothing we can do,” he added.
As many as five Indian players including vice-captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Navdeep Saini and Rishabh Pant were placed in isolation after a patenrial Covid-19 biosecurity protocol breach . The five were found dining at an indoor restaurant in Melbourne with its video surfacing online and prompting Cricket Australia and BCCI to conduct an investigation.
“What India is doing, I have not really thought much about. As a group and personally we have not thought much about what India is doing outside a cricket ground. That is the situation. We are thinking of how we can do much better,” said Wade factoring in Australia’s eight-wicket loss in the Boxing Day Test with the series standing at 1-1. Part reason for the loss was Australia’s batsmen being unable to kick on and get scores. Steve Smith, the pivot of Australia’s batting line-up, failed in both Tests aggregating just 10. Wade, however, expects Smith to get among the runs and deal better with R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
“They (Ashwin and Jadeja) are a tough spin duo to crack, very consistent and have bowled terrifically well, especially in Melbourne. Probably they got more spin and bounce, more than what we expected in first innings. That was a little bit of shocker, but we expected that to come into play. We didn’t adapt quick enough to that wicket, but Steve (Smith) played against Ashwin plenty of times before this and he has been very successful on our wickets against him. I am sure he will be fine and no problems at all. We have to find a way, that’s the nature of the beast,” said Wade who has scored 111 runs in the four innings he has played so far, batting at a position new to him, in the absence of the swashbuckling David Warner.
With Warner returning and Will Pucovski being named in the squad for the third Test, while Wade said he’s mentally prepared about the possibility of being dropped, he was ready to bat in any position if it helps the team’s case.
“I have really enjoyed opening, moving forward if that is something that selectors want me to keep doing more, I am comfortable doing. If I slide back down the order, I will do that also. I am ready from 1 to 7. I am happy to bat wherever playing games for Australia, I will take every run I get.
“Will (Pucovski) has come back into the squad, so whether they make that change straightway and I slid back down, or whether I don’t play at all, who knows. I am not a selector but no indication at this stage and I prepare to bat where I have been batting and if I slide back down, I am comfortable there as well.”