Matthew Wade was 16 when he discovered by chance that he had testicular cancer. He was in for treatment for a groin injury in a football game when he heard the bad news. “It was just a surreal sort of thing. It didn’t hit home until I sat there and they told me basically that I was going to go through chemotherapy and lose my hair and all that sort of stuff. As a young bloke at 16, I think that’s when it hit home that this was pretty serious,” he once told Sydney Morning Herald. “I still tried to train between cycles (of chemotherapy), but it was too hard to do it at the intensity.”
When the cancer treatment was on, he felt that “professional sport was out of the question”, and so took up an apprenticeship as a plumber. “For a couple of years I really just sat back and enjoyed the little things. I wasn’t as driven for a period. I was scared about the treatment. It knocked me physically and it took a long time to get back to where I had left off. Physically losing hair and stuff, I was a bit shy in getting back with the boys.”
Wade is colour blind and had problems in day-and-night cricket with the pink ball in particular. “It’s just at times it takes a little bit longer to work out the depth of where it’s coming. I can see the colour of the ball, so I pick it up.” Former Australian Test opener Chris Rogers also suffered from colour-blindness and withdrew from a pink-ball match in 2014.
In 2018, when he was out of the team, Wade fell out of love with the game. He took up an apprenticeship as a carpenter and worked on his home for 9-10 months.
“I wanted to get into the development side of things. I worked three days a week and had family and cricket time outside of it. I lost the appreciation of it (privilege of being a cricketer) for a while. Coming to work, realising how to live a normal life and how hard people worked from digging holes, boring concrete and the nail gun, played a big role in where I am now on a cricket field,” he told.
His comeback post carpentry would probably not have happened had it not been for his wife. When he was selected for the ‘A’ tour before the Ashes, he called his wife Julia to tell her that he would inform the selectors he doesn’t want to be picked. “I was pretty adamant at the time that I would not go if asked. I was thinking I had played enough ‘A’ and international cricket that they know what I can do.”
But his wife had other thoughts. She called up her doctors to have them deliver the baby earlier than scheduled. “She said ‘I want you to do it, I do not want you to live with regret if they pick someone else and you are sitting at home watching. You have worked so hard to get back and I do not want them to have any excuses not to pick you again’.” Wade told The Cricketer. “We had Goldie in Melbourne and I snuck off three days later. I did not see them again until after the second Ashes Test a few months later.
Source: The Indian Express