A selfless act from Matthew Wade could prove the Aussie batsman's downfall, according to former Test star Simon O'Donnell.
Despite having never opened the batting in the longer form of the game, Wade answered Australia's SOS during their first Test win against India at Adelaide Oval.
With a mounting injury list that included regular opener David Warner (groin) and gun Test hopeful Will Pucovski (concussion), Wade was thrust into the opening batting slot alongside Joe Burns, who went into the Test desperately short of form.
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Burns went some way to justifying the faith shown to him by selectors by hitting an unbeaten half century to guide Australia to victory on day three in Adelaide.
Wade made just eight runs in the first innings and looked solid before being bizarrely run out by India wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for 33 runs in his second dig.
However, O'Donnell believe Wade set himself up for failure by agreeing to bat in an unfamiliar opening spot for the Aussies.
O'Donnell says when it comes to changes in the Australian XI, he's worried about the prospects of the 32-year-old left-handed batsman.
“I think Matthew Wade has signed his own death warrant, just from being a really good team man and doing the right thing,” O’Donnell told SEN Breakfast.
“When David Warner’s ready to come back in, he comes straight back in. The guy who goes is Mathew Wade.”
Former Aussie T20 star Dirk Nannes said it would be incredibly hard on Wade if he was to be dropped for the Boxing Day Test.
“What’s Wade done to get out of the side? He’s done nothing wrong,” Nannes told ABC Grandstand.
“That just cannot happen. It is not fair if he misses out on the next Test match.”
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 19, 2020
Wade may end up getting a reprieve for the second Test, with Warner battling to prove his fitness and Puvovski once again ruled out due to concussion.
Burns is almost certain to open again after being cleared of serious damage to his arm, having copped a nasty blow to the elbow on Saturday.
The opener was clearly bothered after being struck by the Jasprit Bumrah delivery but batted on, finding form as he outscored India's entire second innings in the lopsided day-night Test.
Burns cleared of serious injury
There were fears Burns, who was sent for scans, could join Australia's extensive injury list.
But the Queenslander has been cleared of a broken arm and is set to open at the MCG, where the hosts will pursue a 2-0 series lead in the four-Test series.
Pat Cummins was full of praise for "tough opener" Burns.
"He didn't have the runs on the board that he would have liked coming here but great call from the selectors and Painey (Tim Paine) to keep him in the side," Cummins said.
The identity of Burns' opening partner remains up in the air, although the growing expectation is that Australia will stick with an unchanged XI and give David Warner a further week and a half to recover from his groin strain.
Warner, who rushed to Melbourne on Saturday amid growing concerns about Sydney's COVID-19 cluster, is yet to give up hope of convincing medicos and coach Justin Langer he is ready for the rigours of Test cricket.
Time is against the former vice-captain, although he is renowned for his fitness and has been working diligently in recent weeks.
Recalling Warner, be it for the second or third Test, will mean a member of the middle order has to make way.
Cameron Green, who bowled nine overs in India's first innings then clutched a low catch to dismiss Virat Kohli as they slumped to a record-low total of 36 on day three, and Travis Head are the obvious candidates.
Wade served as a makeshift opener in Adelaide, sharing a 70-run stand with Burns in the final innings of the pink-ball Test.
"Who knows if it's going to be for one or two Tests ... I'll give it a good crack," Wade said of his new role at the top of the order.
Pucovski, who suffered a concussion when struck on the helmet during a recent tour game, has been ruled out of the second Test.
Australia are adopting an understandably conservative approach as the Victorian recovers from his ninth concussion.
Australia's Test squad will train on Monday and travel to Melbourne on Tuesday, as planned.
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