Wade: Smith so good it ‘hurts’
Steve Smith is so good hurts.
That's according to Matthew Wade, who shared in a 126-run, fifth-wicket partnership with the former Australian captain as both men scored centuries to put Australia ahead in the first Ashes Test.
Smith plundered 142 to go with his first innings 144, making him the eighth player and fifth Australian to score twin tons in an Ashes match as he marked his return from a 12-month ban for the ball tampering scandal in style.
Wade's input was just as significant. Recalled to the team as a specialist batsman after last wearing the baggy green as a wicketkeeper in 2017, the left-hander smoked 110 off just 143 balls to break England's spirit.
Asked what it's like to bat with the world's best player up the other end, an honest Wade revealed while parts of it are obviously positive, at times Smith makes him feel inadequate about his own game.
"It's daunting to be honest (batting with Smith)," Wade told reporters after play. "I was only saying before I went out, I thought early on he made Stokesy (Ben Stokes) look slow at times. He was hitting the ball wherever he wanted.
"It's quite daunting at times … sometimes he makes it look way too easy and it hurts.
"He said to me the other day at breakfast he'd never scored 100 in both innings of a Test match and when he said that I thought we were going to be in for something special."
Smith's journey to international redemption has been well documented but Wade's path back to the Test team has been rocky too.
He was called back after selectors ditched Peter Nevill, wanting someone with a bit more mongrel in the team after a humiliating loss to South Africa in Hobart in 2016. But Wade lacked runs and was discarded in 2017 as Tim Paine was plucked from nowhere to wear the gloves in that summer's home Ashes.
But sheer weight of runs on the domestic scene - and encouragement from his wife, who pushed him to come on the Australia A tour of the UK when he was considering staying at home to look after his newborn baby - means Wade is now in a position he never thought possible.
"It's a good reward for a lot of work I've put in over a two-year period now," Wade said. "I probably never thought I'd be back at this level firstly, and then to get an opportunity to play the first Test of an Ashes series, I'm grateful to be here.
"I'm even more grateful for my wife throwing me on a plane and telling me to play the Australia A series to hopefully get an opportunity to be in the position I am.
"I didn't know if I'd get another chance."
Smith and Wade's knocks effectively ended England hopes of winning the game - a remarkable feat considering Tim Paine's side had slumped to 8-122 on day one.
Wade enjoyed an excellent Sheffield Shield campaign for Tasmania, scoring 1021 runs at an average of just over 60 and also made three centuries for the Australia A team earlier in the tour.
However, he struggled in the inter-squad warm-up match in Southampton, posting scores of 10 and seven and was then out for one to Stuart Broad in the first innings.
Team mentor Steve Waugh hinted the squad may need to look at picking a fifth bowler for the second Test at Lord's with all-rounder Mitch Marsh in the frame to fill the role.
But Wade ended any discussion about his place at No. 6 with a buccaneering knock that included 17 boundaries.
"I certainly felt that my game was at a stage where I could perform at this level," Wade said.
"It's as confident as I've been coming into a Test match, that's for sure. But that's the way we want it to be in Australia.
"We want guys piling on a lot of runs at first-class level to get an opportunity to play Test cricket and when you get that opportunity to try and take it."
- with AAP