While Matthew Wade acknowledges the end of his international career is nigh, Australia’s T20 wicketkeeper has unfinished business ahead in front of potentially the two biggest crowds he’s ever played before.
The first of those challenges awaits on Sunday night when Wade steps out onto Narendra Modi Stadium for local team Gujarat Titans in this year’s Indian Premier League final.
He hopes the second – and perhaps the perfect swansong to an 11-year international career – will be a T20 World Cup final at the MCG in November as Australia look to go back-to-back, which Wade revealed to cricket.com.au is likely to be his last campaign in national colors.
“I’ll go home after (the upcoming tour of) Sri Lanka for about five weeks, play the Hundred then jump straight into international cricket,” the 34-year-old, who is part of Australia’s T20 squad for next month’s three- game series in Colombo and Kandy, said from Ahmedabad in western India.
“There’s a lot of T20 cricket that’s coming up before the World Cup, and then after the World Cup that will kind of be it for me in terms of international cricket.
“I’ll look at my options but at this stage how I currently feel is I still want to play domestic cricket for Tassie (Tasmania)… I really love the camaraderie of domestic cricket and playing with the same players over a longer period of time and striving for something collectively.
“I’ve got a young family as well, I like being at home a little bit more as well and that opportunity to do both is something that still interests me.”
Wade hit 35 off 30 balls in the IPL’s qualifying final to help book Gujarat’s spot in the decider in their first season in the competition, and it’s anticipated a crowd upwards of 100,000 will turn out to watch them take on the Rajasthan Royals for the title.
“We came here first up when we first got here, we had a little camp here, so I have seen the stadium, it’s pretty impressive,” Wade said.
“If they do pack that out, it’s going to be one hell of an atmosphere.
“The older you get, the crowds don’t play as big a role but once you start getting up to the numbers that they could be talking about, it’s going to be a cool atmosphere and one that I thought I’d never experience again , so I’ll take it all in an enjoy it.
“I like big games, I like finals, it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed over my career is being able to turn a couple of performances on in finals and hopefully I can do that as well in the (IPL) final.”
It had been 11 years since Wade last featured in the IPL, having played three games for the then Delhi Daredevils as a 23-year-old in 2011.
The wicketkeeper said the ongoing campaign has been a frustrating tournament for him personally; he’s reached double figures in all bar two of his nine innings but that 35 against Rajasthan last Tuesday was his highest score of the season.
Wade also spent six matches out of the team during the middle of the tournament following a run of low scores as the Titans opted for an extra bowler.
But, like he mentioned, he has a good record in important games, with scores of 108 and 96 in Sheffield Shield deciders, and his stunning 41 not out from 17 balls in the T20 World Cup semi-final against Pakistan last year was one of his finest moments for Australia.
“As a player, if there’s a legitimate reason that you’re not playing then it’s quite easy and the reason that I was left out at that particular time is Hardik (Pandya) got injured so we were short a bowler,” Wade said.
“We basically went a batter short and took a little bit of pump with Rashid (Khan) batting seven, which paid off in spades; he’s been amazing at seven so that was kind of why I initially went out of the team and then the way that Rashid, (David) Miller and (Rahul) Tewatia were batting, there was no reason to play the extra batter.
“It’s been a frustrating tournament personally, I’ve been hitting the ball well, especially since I came back into the team.
“It just has not quite clicked, I found the fielders a little bit, just found ways to get out but I’ve played enough to know that happens for periods of time throughout T20 especially, but you’ve just got to stay brave and keep swinging the bat like you know you can swing it. “
After Wade’s next assignment in Sri Lanka, he will link up with Birmingham Phoenix in England’s Hundred competition.
But despite signaling his interest in a three or four-game English county T20 stint prior to the Hundred, Wade does not expect to become a fully-fledged global T20 freelancer.
“I’m not chasing franchise cricket so much, if it comes my way and I can play it, then I’ll play it,” Wade said.
“If this is it for me – one year, two years, three years at IPL – it does not worry me too much.
“If I can play them out of the Australian season then I’m probably more leaning down that path at the moment.
“I just want to be comfortable, spend a little bit of time with my family after the World Cup and see where the last few years of my career is going to be.”
Coaching is also on Wade’s agenda, and he’s prepared to cut his playing career short if the right opportunity comes his way over the next two years.
But right now, he’s still focused on being a multi-faceted cricketer who can be either a top-order batter or a finisher.
“I’m trying to not let a position really dictate how I play too much, it’s something I’ve really enjoyed in the back half of my career,” he said.
“Going forward I’m not locked into any position, I feel comfortable in most of those positions and hopefully I can keep getting better and find a way to play multiple positions throughout multiple tournaments.”
The 2022 Indian Premier League will be broadcast live in Australia on Fox Sports and live streamed on Kayo
Australians in IPL 2022
Delhi Capitals: Mitchell Marsh, David Warner
Gujarat Titans: Matthew Wade
Kolkata Knight Riders: Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch
Lucknow Super Giants: Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye
Mumbai Indians: Tim David, Daniel Sams, Riley Meredith
Punjab Kings: Nathan Ellis
Rajasthan Royals: Nathan Coulter-Nile
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Glenn Maxwell, Josh Hazlewood, Jason Behrendorff
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Sean Abbott