“It is nearly impossible to replace someone of the caliber of Warner and Smith, but with the World Cup less than a year away, Australia will need to finalise a core team at least a couple of months before the mega event”
Glenn Maxwell has been in the Australian team for a while now and has also played some memorable in the past, but with the team going through a tough phase, the hard-hitting batsman, however, needs to show a little more maturity and responsibility for his team’s cause. Maxwell made a very little contribution in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this time. So much so that Delhi Daredevils decided to play with three foreign players, instead of a maximum of four. Maxwell just managed 169 runs from 12 innings in the cash-rich league, which neither did him or his team any good.
Australia in the absence of Steven Smith and David Warner are clearly short of quality in their batting line-up. It is good to see the likes of Shaun Marsh stepping up and making contribution, but the others too need to take note. If the warm-up matches were an indication, Australia in the ODI series against England would come across as no pushovers. However, there is a huge difference when you come up against teams like Sussex, Middlesex and a full-fledged England unit. Granted that they suffered a setback when they lost by a whisker to Scotland, but they have too much quality in their side to repeat similar results.
This is where Maxwell and for that matter former captain Aaron Finch can come in handy. Maxwell, occupying the No. 6 slot has the license to go for his big shots right from the beginning, but he will have to control his instincts depending on the situation. A promotion up the order could – perhaps at No. 4 – could be one of the solutions, but Maxwell has batted from positions 1 to 8 to know what is exactly expected of him. With Australia batting deep, sending Maxwell in the top 4 could give him the license to bat more freely. When batting at 6, he must know how to finish the innings. While patience at the crease is not one of Maxwell’s best traits, he must know how to hang in there and stay at the crease till the end.
He had a chance in both ODIs against England, but failed to convert his performance from good to match-winning. His 64-ball 62 at The Oval was certainly crucial and added momentum to Australia’s innings, but he played one shot too many and was eventually dismissed on the 37th over and Australia managed to put up an ordinary score. Fast forward to Cardiff, Australia were in a spot of bother at 110-4 in the 21st over after losing Finch, but, they had Marsh at the other, who was going well. He was looking well set but played a rash shot and holed out in the deep. Australia needed over 9 an over from the last 20 overs, but with wickets in hand and with two well-set batsmen, they could have pulled it out. Just like they did at The Oval, they fell short once again at Cardiff, with just Marsh standing tall in the end.
The fact that Australia do not have Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh or Adam Zampa in the team also does not help their cause. However, it gives a chance for someone new to show off their skills at the biggest stage.
Maxwell could have very well made the difference in both matches had he stayed on till say the 45th over or so. With a strike rate of over 120 in ODIs, we know that Maxwell can score at a quick pace and with the sort of shots he has, it will always be difficult for the opposition to set field. Also, having Maxwell well set for the death overs could be ominous signs for the fielding side as well, giving Australia a psychological edge as well.
In and out of the ODI side of late, Maxwell must not let this opportunity slip by. Australia at the moment will be more than happy to experiment with other players in his place, given the circumstances. Head coach Justin Langer has done wonders with some Western Australia boys. It’s now time for him to do the same at a larger stage. Langer will not want to dispose off some of the skill levels of Maxwell easily, but if he does not put a price on his wicket, Maxwell could once again find himself playing only T20I cricket for his nation.
It is nearly impossible to replace someone of the caliber of Warner and Smith, but with the World Cup less than a year away, Australia will need to finalise a core team at least a couple of months before the mega event. Results might not go their way for now, but they certainly will when some of their star players return to the fold. A World Cup winner himself, Maxwell knows what it takes to perform at the biggest stage. Now, he will have to play even a bigger role, if Australia are to retain their crown. If not now, when?