Greatness in sport, we are told, belongs to those possessing a quantum of success. But what is this success about? Swelling stats. Eye-popping numbers. How about maximum appearances in some cases? Maybe also how this era reserves its judgment over a talent; where matches won and lost are perhaps just as big as the amount of tax paid by an athlete. But can any of that ever be as big as fighting back in the face of adversity to achieve something special?
If you are a cricket fanatic, whose day begins and ends with trolls and participation in meme making, then perhaps Mathew Wade isn’t that great for you. But if you are someone who values a player who believes in contributing in the best way possible, then Matthew Wade is that great for you.
Not a cricketing great, make no mistake, but the wicket keeper-batter achieved something special when not many expected him to.
And it was the task of contributing to Australia’s World Cup campaign in the must-win semi final versus a very strong Pakistan side.
For as long as this T20 World Cup will be remembered, the name of Matthew Wade will be remembered.
He’ll be recalled for being the unassuming destructor of a Pakistan team that even the sub continent’s harshest critics desired seeing in the finals.
In that regard, Matthew Wade’s brave, very sincere but undaunted 41 runs off just 17 deliveries struck Pakistan in the fashion of a mythical killer.
Moreover, that Pakistan’s fastest exponent of pace- Shaheen Afridi- found in his path a ruthless six-hitter, who arguably speaking, isn’t even the most powerful Australian in the line-up, speaks volumes about why Wade’s success is both astonishing and inspiring.
Cricket thrives on thrilling contests. What made Dubai’s destiny-changing event a belter was that Matthew Wade remained exactly that on the cricket field that he was many moons ago in his youth.
In life, we call the term – unbeaten. In cricket, we call it- not out.
Long before he became a regular in the Australian national side, Matthew Wade battled testicular cancer and underwent a series of chemotherapy.
From having been amid a cesspool of uncertainty to being the reason behind quintessential Australian assuredness in the heat of the desert, Wade’s is a cool story based on a man unwilling to even think of himself as a hero.
For there already are many bedazzling figures in the side. Think Warner, the man whose return to form was signaled by his 89 versus Windies just a few days ago.
Think Steve Smith who’s already been compared to Sir Don. Think the fastest pacer in the modern era in Mitchell Starc.
Yet, having said the above, it’s important to note that the reason Wade’s timely effort stood out was that he made an ebullient side disgruntled in the space of a few hours.
That he became the eliminator of Pakistan on a day where much of the focus- and rightly so- was on Babar, Warner, Rizwan and Starc- perhaps explains the essence of T20 cricket.
The reason it has succeeded is because it has always produced here and there, the one we call unlikely heroes, just as much as the cult classics.
For every Gayle in the rich sands of T20 cricket, there’ll be a Joginder Sharma who came and did his job.
For every Dilshan, there’ll be a Marlon Samuels, not necessarily an idolatry figure.
And for every Dwayne Bravo, there’ll be a Mitch Marsh or a Matthew Wade who’d be least interested in theatrics, and more interested any day in what difference can they possibly bring to their team.
Before he came into the tournament, Wade- who never built a reputation consciously- was at best, a dangerous hitter, not a proven match winner. As he leaves, he would surely have done some amount of good to his own self, having thus far, presided over what are clearly ordinary numbers- 729 T20 runs at a strike rate of 128 from 54 games (3 fifties).
And that’s not the only reason why even those, whose hearts were crushed a few hours ago by the Dubai outing are praising Wade, believably so.
That the Matthew Wades still go out there and get the job done is what clicks for everyone. That’s when the Matthew Wades don’t carry any of cricket’s highest individual scores and aren’t those souls against whose name you’d find merrily concocted nicknames carrying a whiff of affection such as Gilly.