‘Wood incident gave me a new nickname’ – Wade column
|Dates: 16 October-13 November Venue: Australia|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary with clips on BBC Sport website & app|
Playing in a World Cup in Australia is something I have dreamt of doing since I was a child. First, though, I should probably talk about that incident between myself and England bowler Mark Wood during our match in Perth earlier this month.
My Australia team-mates have given me a fair bit of stick since.
I copped it for a week and they kindly gave me a new nickname: ‘Dusty Martin’, who is an Australian Rules Football (AFL) player famous for what we call a ‘Don’t Argue’, where you put your palm in an opponent’s chest and push them away.
I played a lot of footy as a kid, I grew up wanting to play in the AFL, but I can say that incident was not me trying to use those skills.I want to make it clear it was not a conscious effort for me to push Woody and stop him from taking the catch.I had no idea what happened until I got off the field of play and my team-mate Kane Richardson told me I pushed him [Wood]. I immediately said “no, I didn’t” but when I saw the footage, I too said it didn’t look good at all.
What is important to understand is how fast it happens out there. Woody bowled a bouncer at me and it hit me in the head at 150kph (93mph).
I didn’t know where the ball was and saw the fielders rushing in. I subconsciously had a protective instinct to fend off this person running full tilt at me and then my next thought was, “get back in your crease”! That all happened in a few split seconds.
If I felt I had made a deliberate effort to push him out of the way I would be disappointed with myself, but I don’t think I did that.
However, having seen it back, had England appealed, I would have walked off the ground – I have no arguments or denial. I certainly didn’t make a conscious effort to push Wood out of the way. This ‘incident’ has allowed for some role reversal. It has given my team-mates their chance to get back at me – to give me some ‘stick’ for once.We all have very clear roles, both on and off the field. Off the field my role is probably team joker, I give plenty and some would say I’m relentless. People might think I am stern-faced, a little grumpy or serious all of the time. I was certainly brash when I was younger, and have found that tag difficult to shake off.But I take my unofficial joker role seriously, and justify my antics because I think it builds relationships, culture and camaraderie.There are certainly players who get more banter from me than others – Finchy [Aaron Finch], Cummo [Pat Cummins], Hoff [Josh Hazlewood], and Davey [Warner], but that’s been built on years of playing with and against each other. It’s a cliche but this squad has one of the best team spirits I have been a part of, which runs back to when we sat down as a team in the build-up to the last T20 World Cup, which we won in the United Arab Emirates.Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar and Kane Richardson drive the beat off the field with the music. They let their personalities shine with their Spotify choices.Zampa is the team barista, Marcus Stoinis the barber and there’s a long list of ‘official job titles’ of players who give plenty to the group. And most would know, golf has been a huge part of our team dynamics, but that’s not our only down-time activity.
We spend a lot of time together at team barbeques, grabbing a beer or coffee together or visiting Stoini’s barber shop.
Within any work place or team environment it’s about getting to know each other, your colleagues and team-mates, and working out what makes each person tick. That’s how we have got the best out of ourselves to date.
I found that out in last year’s World Cup with Stoin.
The relationship I have with him allowed us to believe we could chase scores no matter what the scoreboard said, like in the semi-final against Pakistan when we needed 50 from the last four overs.
I know how to get the best out of him as my batting partner at the other end, and I push him to take risks and vice-versa.
Overall, our build-up over the past month has been a bit of a whirlwind – travelling to India, beating West Indies and then the 2-0 series defeat to England.
But now we are in Sydney and our families have arrived – my wife and two daughters are here with me – it feels like we are really starting to build towards this World Cup on home soil as a solid unit.
Our eyes are firmly set on the next two games, they’ve been earmarked in our diary for a long time. A sold-out SCG (to play New Zealand on Saturday, 08:00 BST) and then some fierce rivalry at a packed MCG (against England on 28 October, 09:00).
To play in front of 50,000 at the Sydney Cricket Ground and then hopefully 90,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground is every kid’s dream.
There are lots of strong teams in this year’s World Cup, like India, England and Pakistan, and South Africa who look dangerous with the likes of Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and David Miller.
We want to be back at the MCG on 13 November for the final, making more history by becoming the first team to defend a Men’s T20 World Cup title.
Matthew Wade was talking to BBC Sport’s Matthew Henry