Glenn Maxwell still hungry to succeed in Test cricket

Glenn Maxwell still hungry to succeed in Test cricket

Glenn Maxwell has revealed he was “shattered” to miss out on selection for Australia’s most recent Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, but it has only reignited his desire to play Test cricket again with a tour of India on the horizon early next year.

Maxwell was close to playing in the first Test in Galle, but Head passed a fitness test and retained his place. He was even closer to playing in the second Test when it was revealed by skipper Pat Cummins that Maxwell was in line to play at No.8 in place of Mitchell Starc if the Galle pitch was going to be a duplicate of the surface used in the first Test.

But conditions changed significantly with a much more placid batting surface presented, and Maxwell missed out.

“I was shattered when I got told,” Maxwell said about his exclusion from the second Test. “It wasn’t that I thought they made the wrong call, I was just genuinely disappointed.

“I really wanted to play. I loved being a part of it [Test cricket], and I loved the thought of playing again.

“Even not thinking about Test cricket for a couple of years, I felt like I was ready again. I loved working with the coaches and coming up with new tactics to deal with difficult spin bowling and balls exploding.

“I’m glad Heady got through his fitness test because I’d have hated to be in because of an injury to one of your players. Unfortunately, they changed the conditions. If it was the same conditions for both Tests, I probably would have played. But they made a slightly better wicket, and the selectors made the right call.

“I tried not to get too excited or get my hopes up too much because I know, having been in that situation so many times and been on the wrong side of it, the ups and downs of selection and the 50-50 calls … but yeah, I allowed myself to get a little bit too excited.”

Maxwell also revealed that he felt a lot more love and positivity around his possible Test recall than he had done in the past, even if he did lament that his batting style wasn’t more accepted when he was around the Test team between 2014 and 2017.

“It’s certainly nice to have support, where I feel like I probably didn’t have that in the early days of my Test career,” Maxwell said. “It was probably the other way around, where it was just like, no, can’t have this guy in the team. So it’s sort of nice to see it change. When I came back into the side in 2017, it felt like there was a real shift of positivity coming my way, which was rare.

“For so long, whenever I played a reverse sweep, it was frowned upon and it’s become a staple of Test cricket wherever you play in the world. Everyone plays it.

“So it’s like, where was this six years ago? It would have been nice when I was playing, if people would have looked at me and gone, oh, visionary [laughs]. Uzzie [Usman Khawaja] plays 300 of them, and he’s a superstar, [he] gets 150 and like, [we] bow down to him.”

Maxwell is now firmly in line to play in the four-Test tour of India next year, particularly after Head’s lean tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka where his highest score was 26 in five Tests. Head now averages just 21.30 in Asia from seven Tests and has passed 50 only once. Maxwell has played all seven of his Tests in Asia and averages just 26.07 there. He has also passed 50 just once, but he made a superb century in Ranchi on Australia’s last Test tour of India in 2017.

“Last year I had a preseason at Junction Oval, where we would use the same pitches, maybe four or five net sessions in a row and by the fifth net session they were basically India”

Glenn Maxwell on his preparations for the India tour

The balance of right and left-handers in Australia’s top seven will be important against the left-arm orthodox of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, and the right-arm offspin of R Ashwin.

Maxwell’s experience facing all three in India, across red and white-ball cricket, will no doubt give him an advantage from a selection standpoint. He revealed the Australia selectors have spoken to him about what specific preparation would be best for him ahead of the India tour and he stressed, as he has previously, that playing Sheffield Shield cricket on Australian pitches will not help.

“They sort of just asked what do you need to get ready and would Shield cricket make a difference? I said no, it won’t,” Maxwell said. “Because the conditions are just so different over there. It’s certainly hard to prepare for spinning tracks in Australia during our first-class games.

“I think we’re able to still get nets up in Melbourne that can spin and do some different things. Last year I had a pre-season at Junction Oval, where we would use the same pitches, maybe four or five net sessions in a row and by the fifth net session they were basically India. And it was awesome. They were the best net sessions I had. Because I was going away, I think at that stage, the next subcontinent tour, it might have been the IPL and it was awesome. It was the perfect prep, and I had no excuses, I suppose, going into the next series.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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