Ashes 2019: ‘The best batsman in the world right now’ – Ricky Ponting hails Matthew Wade after Test comeback
Matthew Wade has been hailed by Ricky Ponting as 'irrepressible'.

Australia cricket legend Ricky Ponting has no doubt that Matthew Wade is batting ‘on a different level’ and is amazed by the recalled wicketkeeper’s temperament and focus.

Ponting worked with the Australian team as assistant coach during the World Cup and has spent a lot of time helping Wade in the nets. Last month, during a throwdown session to the Tasmania skipper, Ponting said he marvelled at Wade’s skill while members of Australia’s squad termed him ‘the best batsman in the world at the moment’.

Wade was named in Australia’s Ashes squad and the ongoing Edgbaston Test is his first in nearly two years. On day four, he scored a three-hour 110 to help Steve Smith and Tim Paine get Australia’s lead over England to 397.

(READ: “It probably hasn’t sunk in just yet” says Matthew Wade after Test century)

Having earlier called for Wade to be recalled to Australia’s Test squad for series at home against India and Sri Lanka, Ponting said he was not surprised that he slotted back with a century on comeback.

“I thought he was very unlucky not to get a crack last summer and that he was on the cusp of playing in the World Cup semi-final as well,” Ponting told cricket.com.au on Monday.  “I’d had a look at him once he joined the squad and his game was just on another level to all of the other guys. On the back of what he’d done in those couple of Australia A games, his form was almost irrepressible.

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“You almost had to pick him because of the great space he’s been in as a batsman. I was throwing the balls to him more often than not and he was just on a different level. A big part of that is confidence because he’d made runs every time he’d batted for a year and a half.

Matthew Wade 110
Matthew Wade raises his bat after getting to three figures. © AFP

“A lot of my thoughts around him potentially playing in the semi-final were based on how well he was playing and how confident he was.

“Even the guys who were bowling to him or standing behind me when I was throwing balls to him, they’d say, ‘This bloke is the best batsman in the world at the moment’.”

The Edgbaston Test is Wade’s 23rd, and in each of his prior 22 matches he was Australia’s designated wicketkeeper. For the Ashes opener at Edgbaston, Wade was picked as a specialist batsman coming off a Sheffield Shield season in which he crossed 1000 runs, as well as runs for Australia A across formats on their tour of England.

Ponting lauded the selectors for picking Wade as a specialist batsman.

“His selection is absolutely justified now,” Ponting said. “I think it was a fairly courageous one to get him in, but he just kept knocking on the door so hard that they had to make that change.

“I’m not surprised that he’s done what he’s done in this Test match. I actually said on day one … when we lost those three early wickets I said, ‘Don’t worry, Wadey’s going to get a hundred anyway’. He obviously missed out there, but he’s got it in the second innings.”