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“There may be an SOS for Glenn Maxwell who has just returned from a broken leg and is to be named after testing for the one-day series but could come sooner. ”
This was Geoff Lemon – one of Australia’s leading cricket journalists – in his Guardian Australia Column on February 21st.
Fresh from a friendly that lasted less time than a direct flight from Perth to London, Lemon suggested Australian selectors might be inclined to pick a player who had recently played their first Sheffield Shield game in three years and ask him out to play in the toughest red-ball conditions in world cricket.
Surely you have to ask yourself: Why?
Maxwell’s last top-flight century came in late 2017, an aggressive 278 for Victoria on the admittedly stamp-sized grounds of the North Sydney Oval. Since then, his all-white appearances have been fleeting, often due to his commitments in the game’s shorter forms, as well as a horrific broken leg in late 2022.
Multiple IPL centuries and an international T20 batting rating of over 150 have made him one of the most sought after players on the T20 circuit and few can argue that he has been at his best in this format.
However, this does not necessarily require him to be selected in Test cricket.
Take, for example, all seven of his previous friendlies that took place under filming conditions: in the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and India; where he made his debut in 2013 and scored his only Test hundred in 2017.
It has been argued that these are the conditions in which he thrives and should make him a mainstay of the Red Ball side as they tour this region. However, despite that century and obvious experience in that environment, he only averages 26 innings out of 14.
He appeared in country cricket in 2018, ostensibly in preparation for the Australian tour of the United Arab Emirates later that year, but did not hide his frustration at not being able to play in both that tour and the A Games, which were held at the same time in India but has since focused more on white ball cricket – something he also admitted in early 2021.
Maxwell’s record is decidedly average and not improving.
His ODI hit rate has dropped to 125 in the last three years, putting him on par with a conspicuous number of good but not phenomenal players. His top-notch record averages under 40 at just seven hundred.
If one answer to that is his lack of red ball cricket, I have to agree. It is this lack of top-flight cricket that makes a future appearance at the Baggy Green both unlikely and undeserved.
Ahead of last year’s tour of Sri Lanka, Maxwell argued that a lack of top-flight cricket was not necessarily a disadvantage given his consistent performances in the subcontinent during the IPL. This may be true, but it belies a distinct lack of acceptance of the intricacies surrounding the modern game – namely the gap between T20, ODI and Test cricket that has never been wider.
One would go so far as to say that the three formats come close to being very different games. This is reflected in the fact that England have virtually completely different teams – and coaches – in the shorter formats compared to Test cricket.
Further proof of how difficult it is to switch between formats without proper preparation can be seen in the current tour of India. Ashton Agar, originally picked into the roster as a likely Test starter, was rendered ineligible due to a spate of trust issues.
Like Maxwell, he was a constant in the shorter formats – for both Australia and the Perth Scorchers – at the behest of every Red Ball cricket.
Any mention of Maxwell’s selection is also a slap in the face to the players who ply their trade in the Sheffield Shield competition which, despite Cricket Australia pushing it ever further to the brink of the Australian summer, the top-flight competition remains out of Test cricketers are to be selected.
Peter Handscombe has been recalled in India and has put in an admirable performance. Cameron Green, still raw, was selected after looting more first-class centuries in his first 25 games than Maxwell has hit in his entire career.
This season, Cameron Bancroft has regained his form and scored four centuries, but has hardly been mentioned in the same breath as Maxwell.
That’s before mentioning other all-rounders who have outclassed Maxwell in recent seasons. Aaron Hardie, Matt Short and Mitch Marsh all provided runs and wickets in the competition and should be saddened if Maxwell were elevated above them.
One hopes that Glenn Maxwell will remain in colored clothing for the foreseeable future. Its entertainment value is second to none. But this is where his talents should stay.
With the next test tour on the subcontinent not until 2025, when Maxwell is approaching 37, it may be the last time we hear that argument.
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/03/07/it-is-time-to-forget-about-glen-maxwell-in-the-baggy-green/ Time to forget Glenn Maxwell at Baggy Green