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Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting admitted to being stunned by the national selectors’ decision not to pick all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
Ponting said he was just as shocked that Maxwell wasn’t given an opportunity to prove his worth in Australia A’s ongoing tour of India.
Maxwell’s omission from the squad was arguably the biggest surprise as Australia opted to pick five uncapped players – Aaron Finch, Brendan Doggett, Michael Neser, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne.
The Baggy Greens also recalled veteran seamer Peter Siddle, who has not played Test cricket since November 2016.
“If I was Maxi I’d be thinking, ‘why didn’t you give me the chance to actually go there (to India) and push my case to get myself into the team?” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “That’s all a bit bizarre to me. If I was Maxi and I hadn’t been given the chance to play for Australia A, I’d be ropeable.
“They didn’t pick him on that Australia A tour and they’ve said they’ve seen him play enough in those conditions and knew what he could do.
“But if you think about it now, that must have actually meant they weren’t going to pick him at all. He didn’t even come into calculations for that Test tour.
“With Marnus and Travis Head going on that A tour, they gave them the opportunity to play in those conditions, they’ve done well and then they picked them (for the Test squad). I’m not sure what the message is, but it’s a bit confusing to me.”
Ponting added that while Maxwell won’t be the most consistent player, he possesses a superb work ethic and has the ability to be a match-winner.
The 43-year-old also urged Maxwell not to give up on his hopes of playing Test cricket again after this setback.
“He’s someone who’s desperate to play Test cricket for Australia, he wants to play any game of cricket he can for his country,” Ponting said. “He might be sitting back now thinking what he has to do and hopefully the selectors have told him that. Hopefully they’ve been on the phone already and told him what he needs to do to get back in the team.
“If all they’ve said is that he needs go back to Shield cricket and score runs there, well, he’s done that the last couple of years.
“He’s always going to be that type of match-winning player. If he comes off every two or three or four games – that’s the kind of player he’s always going to be.
“He’s got enough time and skill to be able to play more Test cricket for Australia.”
While Ponting firmly feels that Maxwell should have been picked for the Pakistan Tests, head coach Justin Langer called on the 29-year-old to convert his strong starts into triple figure scores.
“He’s a very good player and I was very impressed with him in England (on June’s limited-overs tour), the way he goes about his business,” Langer said. “I’d love to see Maxi score more hundreds. And he and I have talked a lot in our brief time together about the art of concentration and watching the ball like a hawk.
“I’m sure if he does that more regularly, he will be making a lot more hundreds and be much more pickable for Test cricket.”
When asked about his thoughts, Siddle, like Ponting, was stunned that Maxwell was overlooked for the upcoming series.
“I was a little bit (surprised),” Siddle said. “Coming home and being around him yesterday (Monday), he was a little bit confident that he was going to be a part of this squad so he’ll be very disappointed.
“I do feel for him, you always want your teammates to be in and around the squad and be a part of it with you. I know he’ll be shattered.
“But I know one thing he’ll do is work hard and get ready to push his case for the summer. It’s hard, it’s a whole new-look side and a lot of changes. And obviously the direction that they’re going at the moment, with three spinners in there, it does make it hard to be a batting spinner in the side.
“So you can see where they’re coming from. He’s got plenty of opportunity now to get ready for the summer to push his case.”
Australia’s Test Squad: Tim Paine (capt, wk), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc