Wade: Home Test a dream come true
Australia's Matthew Wade will feel he's making his debut all over again when he dons the baggy green for the first time on home soil next week.
Wade, who already has three Tests and a century to his name, was confirmed on Monday as Australia's wicketkeeper for the opening Test against South Africa at the Gabba on November 9.
The Victorian got the nod as the nation's full-time gloveman ahead of veteran Brad Haddin, who appears to have permanently lost his spot after opting out of April's West Indies tour to help his daughter battle cancer.
Wade debuted as a fill-in for Haddin in Barbados and posted a hundred in the third Test in front of near-empty stands at Dominica, but he admitted performing amid the intensity of a home Test series was his ultimate boyhood dream.
"The crowds are a lot bigger here and there's a lot more pressure. That's why we play cricket - to play in front of big crowds," the 24-year-old said.
"With a home series, there is so much expectation on the Australian cricket team. In the West Indies you're miles away from home and you don't get the build-up like this so it feels a lot different."
Debate over who should be Australia's full-time wicketkeeper raged all summer and intensified this month after Haddin led the Sydney Sixers to the Champions League Twenty20 title in South Africa.
"I was pretty lucky that I was in Sri Lanka when there was a lot going on back here," Wade said. "Then when I got home it died down a bit.
"I got straight into playing cricket and I think that was the best thing for me. I don't read too much about what's going on. I just worry about playing."
Wade recognises he is vital to Australia's hopes of beating the number-one ranked Proteas in his role as a lower-order batsman, particularly with South Africa's world-best pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel to contend with.
"As a wicketkeeper now you prepare as a number six batsman," he said. "I play my best when conditions are quite difficult and I have to dig in at the start and then find a way to hit back at them.
"The pressure is going to be a little bit higher (at international level). But I will do exactly what I do for Victoria for the Australian cricket team. Hopefully that will help us win games.
"I feel like I am in a really good place. I'm hitting the ball well and catching them quite nicely."
Along with the Caribbean Tests, Wade has 25 one-day and 15 Twenty20 internationals under his belt.
So there will be no need for introductions when he joins the Australia camp in Brisbane later this week.
"It's certainly nice to know everyone and have three Tests behind me," he said.
"Now I can just go up there and start working on my game rather than worrying about what's going to happen and what to expect."