Wade, Archer face-off in sizzling Ashes battle
Ashes rookies and Hobart Hurricanes teammates produce the highlight of day four at The Oval, with the Australian posting a century
Sam Ferris at The Oval
16 September 2019, 08:23 AM AEST
Matthew Wade is known for his tenacity and he needed every bit of it on Sunday as he survived a hostile spell of fast bowling from Jofra Archer to post his second century of the Ashes tour.
Wade bore the brunt of a lightning eight-over spell by Archer on day four of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval, which saw the express paceman reach speeds of 154kph as he revived memories of his ferocious spell to Steve Smith at Lord's.
While he ducked into a nasty bouncer that thudded into his right shoulder, Wade persevered to win the battle with Archer and post a career-best 117 that was ultimately in vain as England won by 135 runs to level the series 2-2.
It has been a long road back to the Test team for Wade after he was dropped at the start of the 2017-18 summer, but a mountain of runs at domestic and Australia A level made him an irresistible choice for the Ashes.
The left-hander capitalised on his opportunity with a second-innings century at Edgbaston, scored pivotal (albeit not huge) runs at Lord's, Headingley and Old Trafford, before capping the series off with a ton in London.
"I feel like it's a good reward, probably like the first Test was, for the amount of runs I'd scored coming into that Test," Wade said on Sunday evening.
"I feel like I put a lot of work in; from the second until the fourth Test, I thought I was batting as well as I'd batted for the last couple of years.
"The runs just weren't reflecting the way I felt I was batting.
"I was very grateful the selectors gave me the opportunity and obviously saw I was batting well – the runs just hadn't quite come – to give me the opportunity in this Test.
"It was rewarding to score some runs, but I would have liked to win the Test."
While Wade received a standing ovation upon reaching his century, the biggest cheers of the day were for Archer when he was storming in to the Tasmanian from the Pavilion End.
Wade and Archer had enjoyed a fierce tussle during the Test and while it never threatened to boil over, there was just as much spice in the middle of The Oval as there is in London's famous Brick Lane.
Much has been made about the on-field chat between the Hobart Hurricanes teammates, but Wade said there was nothing untoward or out of line.
Besides, Wade said he had bigger things to worry about, like Archer bowling thunderbolts from 22 yards away.
"It was good, hard Test cricket," Wade said about his battle with Archer. "That's what I expected coming into an Ashes series.
"I'd never played an Ashes series before and the way Jofra has taken to Test cricket, I knew he was obviously a freakish talent, and when he was around the England team I knew he'd be playing this series.
"We all thought he'd slow down eventually but I can tell you that through that spell he certainly didn't slow down too much, and he kept coming.
"I felt like I could deal with what he was delivering, and he obviously thought he could either rip my head off or get me out.
"It was a good battle. There was a little bit of banter, no words really, just good, hard test cricket."
Wade's Ashes tour will undoubtedly put him in with a good chance to retain his place in the Test side for the first Test of the home summer against Pakistan at the Gabba following a lean Ashes tour for Australia's batters not named Steve Smith.
Only Smith (110.57), Marnus Labuschagne (50.42) and Wade (33.7) averaged more than 28 on the tour in a series dominated by two potent bowling attacks.
But the 31-year-old knows he has to keep scoring runs to keep his place in the team, which is what got him there in the first place.
"If I perform the way I have in Shield cricket then hopefully I'll get my spot," Wade said.
"But if not, then that's up to selectors in the end.
"I can only do what I've done, and I feel like I've shown in the heat of the battle, in a tough series against world-class bowlers that I can stand up against them."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: Australia won by 185 runs at Old Trafford
Fifth Test: England won by 135 runs