Wade to prioritise Tigers' Shield final over IPL

Tasmanian coach Jeff Vaughan confirms veteran's availability for Sheffield Shield final despite clash with Gujarat's IPL opener

Matthew Wade will get a crack at winning his first Marsh Sheffield Shield title with his native Tasmania with the veteran wicketkeeper-batter to prioritise his domestic duties ahead of his Indian Premier League franchise.

Australia's T20 gloveman faced the difficult decision in a World Cup year of choosing between his IPL commitments for Gujarat Titans and being available for Tasmania, with the state having not won a men's title since he returned from Victoria ahead of the 2017-18 summer.

Gujarat's opening game of the 2024 IPL season on March 24 (March 25 AEDT) clashes with the Shield decider from March 21-25, which Tasmania is in the box seat to host with a 5.87-point lead at the top of the standings ahead of the final home-and-away round next week.

Tasmania men's head coach Jeff Vaughan confirmed this morning Wade would be available for the Shield final.

"He's spoken with his IPL franchise and they're happy to allow him to stay here, which probably equates to him potentially missing their first game," Vaughan told reporters in Hobart.

"We feel very fortunate to have someone of Matt's ilk coming back into our group, and his experience and his performances at the back end of our season."

Wade was part of the Titans 2022 IPL championship-winning XI in their first season in the competition and this year will be his third with the franchise after being purchased for A$446,000 ahead of their inaugural campaign.

The left-hander opened and batted at No.3 in his 10 appearances in 2022, scoring 157 runs striking at 113, but he didn't play the following season with Wriddhiman Saha preferred, which perhaps made the 36-year-old's decision to remain with Tasmania for the final a little easier.

Wade won four Shield titles and a One-Day Cup in 2010-11 during his 10 years with Victoria and this season will be his third attempt for championship success with the Tigers having been part of the playing XIs that lost the Shield final to Queensland in 2017-18 and 50-over final to Victoria in 2018-19.

Wade sparks Victoria collapse with gully screamer

Tasmania's tense 57-run victory over Victoria on Monday was Wade's first Shield game since October after returning from Australia's 3-0 T20 series victory over New Zealand last month, claiming a stunning catch in the gully to remove Peter Handscomb in the first innings.

He also opened the batting for the first time in his Sheffield Shield career, returning scores of 32 and five.

"He was very open to whatever it took from the team's perspective; he certainly doesn't want to come in and put people out of position," Vaughan said of Wade opening.

Wade has opened alongside Caleb Jewell since his return to the Tigers side late in the season // Getty

"The conversation went around opening. He said, 'Yep, I'm up for it, love to have a new challenge'.

"And we think he did a pretty good job last (game) and he'll certainly do it again (next) week."

Tasmania face South Australia at Blundstone Arena on Monday in their final match of the regular season and a win would secure hosting rights of the Shield final at the same venue. The Tigers would also host the decider if the secure 0.14 more first innings bonus points than Western Australia do in their clash against Victoria at Junction Oval.

Vaughan confirmed speedster Riley Meredith would miss the clash as part of his workload management, with retiring swing bowler Sam Rainbird included in the 12-player squad for a potential farewell game.

"We haven't been wanting to go back-to-back games with (Meredith's) player type," Vaughan said.

"It was always part of the plan for Riley to play, miss, play and then hopefully, we're in a situation where there would be a final for us. So, it's played beautifully that he's played round nine and then can play in the final."

Allrounder Mitch Owen remains sidelined as he recovers from a side strain suffered against Queensland in early February, but Vaughan said they wouldn't hesitate to recall the right-hander for the final if he's fit and conditions suit.

"He's returned to training (but) still not playing club cricket as yet," he said.

"All of our planning around him is to have him ready for the Shield final.

"I'd be comfortable (playing him in the final) just knowing the preparation that all of our players go through, we've got wonderful staff who prepare our players incredibly well. If it came to that with the right facilities and we wanted to go that way, no issues from my perspective."

Sheffield Shield 2023-24 standings

Matches played
No results
Batting Bonus
Bowling Bonus
Total points
1 Western Australia Men Western Australia Men WA 10 5 2 3 0 0 5.53 9.4 47.93
2 Tasmanian Tigers Men Tasmanian Tigers Men TAS 10 5 2 3 0 0 6.06 8.3 47.36
3 NSW Men NSW Men NSW 10 4 3 3 0 0 6.31 9 42.31
4 Victoria Men Victoria Men VIC 10 4 4 2 0 0 4.74 8.2 38.94
5 South Australia Men South Australia Men SA 10 3 6 1 0 0 5.19 9.3 33.49
6 Queensland Bulls Queensland Bulls QLD 10 2 6 2 0 0 3.54 8.3 25.84

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

D: Drawn

N/R: No results

Ded.: Deductions

Bat: Batting Bonus

Bowl: Bowling Bonus

PTS: Total points