'Phenomenal' Wade sees room for him and Inglis in T20 team

Matthew Wade has kept in all of his past 51 T20 matches and will do so again in tomorrow’s series opener against the West Indies

Matthew Wade will keep for Australia tomorrow in his first international in his hometown of Hobart since 2014 as he jostles with the in-form Josh Inglis to be the preferred gloveman ahead of June's T20 World Cup.

National men's selection chair George Bailey admitted last month the keeping spot was "still up for grabs" after naming both Wade and Inglis in the squad for the three-match Dettol T20I series against the West Indies.

While Wade has kept in the 51 T20 matches he's played for Australia since September 2021, he revealed he's unsure who will take the gloves beyond the first T20 at Bellerive Oval on Friday.

Wade says middle-order continuity a strength for Australia

Inglis impressed during his elevation to the top of the order in the preceding ODI series against the Windies with scores of 65 off 43 balls and 35 not out of 16 to help Australia to a 3-0 series sweep.

And with Travis Head and Steve Smith rested for the series and Matt Short injured, it's conceivable Inglis could play as a specialist batter throughout the three matches in Hobart, Adelaide and Perth as Australia attempt to lock down a permanent replacement for former opener Aaron Finch.

"'Wadey's' done a phenomenal job in that (No.7) position across a long period of time," Bailey said. "We're seeing that become a highly specialised and highly skilled position.

"That's not taking away some of the work that 'Ingo's' (Inglis) has done with the bat as well and nothing to say that both of them can play in the same team."

Blazing 65 from new opener Inglis sets up Aussie chase

Wade too sees room for both him and the West Australian in the side.

"I've been batting seven when I've been playing in a specialist role," the 36-year-old Tasmanian told reporters on Thursday ahead of the first T20.

"I'm obviously a left-hander as well, (which) towards the back end (of the innings) is something that we're quite happy with.

"Myself, (Tim) David and (Marcus) Stoinis have been through that middle-order … over the last few years so we're pretty confident and happy with how we line up there.

"But I think 'Ingo's' pushing hard for spot, he's batted terrifically well in every game he's played in white-ball cricket as well and he was good in India.

"So whether that be the top of the order or he finds a spot through the middle, he's definitely there putting his hand up to get picked in the first XI as a batter."

While the toll of keeping in first-class cricket for Tasmania earlier in the season for the first time since 2019 caused the veteran gloveman to miss four games during KFC BBL|13 as he battled ongoing back stiffness, Wade had declared his "feeling as good as he has all year" following three weeks off after his Hobart Hurricanes missed the finals.

"I'm ready to go in what is a big run of cricket for me in the next six months," Wade said.

"Not playing Shield cricket and being able to get some continuity in what I'm doing off the ground has certainly helped that.

"In the next six months there won't be as much first-class cricket; there's still a little bit that I'm excited about playing but it was probably the shock to the system and keeping for the first time for a long time in that format (that contributed to the back issue)."

The keeping spot is not the only dilemma for Australian selectors with just six T20 matches remaining before the World Cup with a plethora of batters lining up for first crack at the top of the order alongside David Warner.

Inglis or captain Mitch Marsh – who will play despite testing positive to Covid on the eve of the series opener – appear the most likely to open against the Windies on Friday with Head, Smith and Short not part of the squad.

"It's a good thing for Australian cricket to have a little bit of a logjam there with opening batters," Wade said.

"We've got Davey (Warner) who's arguably our best T20 opening batter, Mitchell Marsh has done it, 'Greeny's' (Cameron Green) done it, 'Ingo' could find himself doing it as well, he batted three in India.

"There's plenty of people that are pushing for that opening spot."

Men's Dettol T20I Series v West Indies

February 9: Blundstone Arena, Hobart 7.00pm AEDT

February 11: Adelaide Oval, 7pm AEDT

February 13: Perth Stadium, 7pm AEDT

Australia T20I squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

West Indies T20I squad: Rovman Powell (c), Shai Hope, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas