One of the more interesting sub-plots of Australia’s 3-0 Chappell-Hadlee Series win was Australian selectors overlooking Glenn Maxwell for the entire series with New Zealand, indicating that the curious relationship between Australian Cricket and one of its most enigmatic but talented players continues to develop in ever more unpredictable ways. Only months ago Australia’s ODI Player of the year, Maxwell now seems to be the sides fourth choice all-rounder.
To say it has been an interesting week would be an understatement.
Maxwell seemingly persona non grata after having the temerity to suggest he was unhappy to bat behind his Victorian Captain and Wicket-Keeper Matthew Wade at Sheffield Shield level.
Apparently a man who has batted number three for Australia in a Test Match should be happy to bat behind a man who averages 38 at First Class level.
Fined and publicly chastened ‘The Big Show’ was then left out of the First Chappell-Hadllee ODI, a selection decision that was said to be a coincidence and not a result of his earlier comments. Which is no doubt the explanation for why, as 13th Man, he was required to play drink waiter to Wade during the wicket-keeper’s explosive 38-run cameo.
It was a bewildering response from Australian Cricket’s hierarchy. A benign and honest answer drawing sanction, yet they are happy that the man with the highest Sheffield Shield average of last season was overlooked for the first game of this campaign and now stuck behind a man averaging 38 at First Class level. It shouldn’t surprise, after losing five of our last six Tests, the same hierarchy are still more concerned with being pithy than showing any forethought, consistency or good judgement.
Darren Lehmann making it clear that for Maxwell it’s not just consistent runs he needs for Test Selection but centuries at Shield level. In the coach’s eyes Sheffield Shield performances are the only currency acceptable from Maxwell, not performances in other formats. A fair sentiment when read in isolation, but the Australian brains trust are quite happy to consider Pat Cummins for a return to Test Cricket against Pakistan, despite not even having played Shield cricket since 2011!
Then there is the small matter of when Maxwell can actually don the baggy blue of Victoria. Two seasons ago, international commitments meant the all-rounder was only available for two Shield Matches. This week’s selection to the ODI squad has precluded him from playing Victoria’s match up with Tasmania – despite him being a glorified water boy and punching bag for the boys in canary yellow. Surely in the jet age, and with Shield rules designed to allow players to be subbed out if called up for national duty, Maxwell could have played for Victoria while remaining on standby for the ODI Team.
Regardless of your thoughts on the man, it makes much more sense for Australian Cricket to be giving him opportunities to prosper. Whether he reaches the heights this correspondent thinks he can or not are a different matter but doesn’t it make more sense to have a player on the periphery of selection playing cricket than running water?