Matthew Wade celebrates a century for Australia // Getty
Over the past 10 years, Matthew Wade’s cricketing journey has taken him from Tasmania to Victoria, and right around the world.
The 29-year-old has returned to Tasmania this summer as one of Australia’s leading wicketkeeper-batsmen, having represented his country more than 140 times across all three formats of the game.
What’s it like being a professional cricketer and representing Australia?
It’s a dream come true to be able to be a professional cricketer and concentrating on getting the best out of yourself. It’s been a good ride so far and something that every kid aspires to do. I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity.
When did you start playing cricket and what was your journey?
I was maybe eight or nine when I started, playing in the backyard with my family and friends over the summer breaks. Then I got involved in club cricket in Hobart and moved up to Premier clubs - I went to Clarence when I was 12 and started playing representative level for them, and worked my way to senior cricket there. I played for Tasmania for one game, then moved to Victoria for 11 years and now I’m back in Tassie again.
It was 11 seasons ago that you were Player of the Championships at the Under 19s - what are your memories of that carnival and your Pathways career?
It was my last year - I was captain of the Tassie side at that stage, and we did reasonably well I think. I think I played four years of Under 17s and four years of Under 19s as well, and represented Australia in an Under 19 World Cup. I was lucky enough to play with some good players there who I still play with now. We’ve come up together through the programs - guys like David Warner, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques was our captain, Jackson Bird, Jon Holland and Tom Cooper. There were heaps of guys in that program who I’ve played with or against for the majority of my career. It was pretty cool to grow up with those guys and play at the top level with them as well.
When did you decide that you wanted to be an Australian cricketer, and that you were capable of playing for your country?
I wanted to be a successful first-class cricketer, I think that’s probably where it started. I wanted to make it at that level and make runs at that level. I reckon it was probably a couple of years into my first-class career that I thought I was good enough to play at the next level, and I thought if I could perform well enough that it was realistic for me. It probably wasn’t until I was 21 or 22 that I thought I could get there - it was trying to tick all the boxes along the way, and succeed at the level you were playing at first.
What are your memories of receiving your Baggy Green?
I was lucky enough to play the West Indies in Barbados which is a terrific place to play. Ricky Ponting presented my Baggy Green which was even better. I grew up in Tassie watching ‘Punter’ and he’d been the favourite son of Tasmanian cricket for a very long time, so it was a pretty special moment to get my Baggy Green presented by arguably one of the best players that’s ever played the game for Australia.
What are the highlights of your cricketing career - do you have a favourite moment?
I’ve been lucky enough to play a few grand finals and win a few premierships. I won two when I was really young with Clarence, and I was lucky enough
to win four She eld Shields with Victoria. They’re all special moments when you’re winning titles with your mates and you work hard to get there, to get to the end of the year and win championships. Probably the most special moment I have playing for Australia is the first Test we played in India recently, that’s probably the greatest on-field game I’ve been involved with. To go over there with a young team and do what we did in the first Test match and beat India was one of the best feelings I’ve had playing for Australia.
What would be your advice to this year’s Under 19 cricketers who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
You’ve got to enjoy it - it’s pretty clichéd and everyone says it, but it’s hard to do though at times. It’s something I probably didn’t realise when I was a young player, there’s going to be days that don’t go your way. One of the hardest things as a professional cricketer or a young cricketer is trying to find a way to move forward straight away, so the greatest advice I would give to young cricketers is to enjoy your teammates success even if you have a bad day, because your day is just around the corner. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t go your way - you’ll get another opportunity in this game.
This article was first published in the Under 19 National Championships tournament program.