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Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has endured a tumultuous week, but here’s why I think he’s been given the short end of the stick.
Maxwell was expected to retain his spot in the ODI squad for the upcoming five-match series against England, but instead, the national selectors dumped him in favour of big-hitting batsman Chris Lynn, who had spent the last few months on the sidelines after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Maxwell admitted that he was “extremely disappointed” to have been left out the squad, but what made the decision even worse were the comments made by captain Steve Smith when the squad was announced.
Smith took aim at Maxwell, saying that he needed to “train a little bit smarter” and cut out all the “funky stuff”.
Maxwell himself conceded that he has not lived up to expectations in the 50-over format as of late as in his last 20 matches, he has only passed fifty in two of his 16 innings.
A few days after the squad was announced, Lynn was ruled out of the series due to a calf injury he had sustained while representing the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League (BBL).
As soon as the news spread around, players and pundits thought Maxwell would be a shoo-in, especially considering that Lynn had taken his spot on the roster.
Furthermore, Maxwell had the numbers on his side as he is currently the highest run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield with 590 runs in five matches at an average of 73.75.
He has carried that form into the BBL, where he has smashed two fifties in his last three innings for the struggling Melbourne Stars.
Even opening batsman Aaron Finch and former captain Ricky Ponting backed Maxwell to return to the ODI squad as they both believed he has performing at too high a level for the selectors not to take notice.
“He’s playing some really good cricket at the moment. The way that he’s batting is as good as I’ve seen him in terms of his tempo,” Finch had said.
Ponting added: “As far as I’m concerned I don’t think there’s a better middle-order batsman than him to take that spot.”
With all the statistics in his favour and past and present players making their voices heard, the selectors stunned everyone by recalling Cameron White instead of Maxwell.
Given the impact and the form he has maintained throughout the Australian summer thus far, it seems bizarre why Maxwell was snubbed. It suggests that the selectors want to see a bigger change in his approach and mentality, but they completely overlooked the fact that he is in red-hot form right now.
While I have no ill feelings towards White, questions must be asked about why the selectors opted to choose a 34-year-old veteran who has not played ODI cricket since January 2015.
Maxwell revealed that he was told to pile on the runs on the domestic circuit, which is exactly what he has done. He also brought to light the fact that he has tried to “change certain things and change certain perceptions”, which is likely in reference to his ‘Big Show’ nickname and his hit-out-or-get-out mentality.
I’m not saying Maxwell is the perfect cricketer, but the numbers don’t lie, and weigh heavily in his favour. White may be the second-highest scorer in the BBL with 285 runs at an average of 142.50, but considering everything Maxwell has done this summer, it seems to me that he has been tossed to the wolves.
The only question now is whether Maxwell will continue to look in from the outside, or whether he will regain his spot in the national team.
With the selectors revealing that they want to put together a core group of players ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales, Maxwell will no doubt be aware that the clock is ticking.
With this in mind, the pressure will definitely be on him to maintain his superb run of form as a slip or dip of any kind could very well spell the end of his chances of getting back into the ODI side in time for the World Cup.
Feature written by Bimal Mirwani