II still can’t work out what was the bigger surprise; Glenn Maxwell making a maiden Test century or Steve Smith scoring another one.
Perhaps it’s the former as seeing a player who, on his initial forays into the five-day game couldn’t have resembled a fish out of water any more if he’d tried, actually show what he could be all about was enough to take even the most seasoned watcher aback.
Maybe it’s the latter, as seeing a player who on his initial forays into the five-day game looked a bizarre selection grind remorselessly on towards all-time greatness can’t help but elicit even a small element of bewilderment.
In Smith’s case this is too cynical as the time for amazement has long since sailed into the sunset.
A fraction over 5000 Test runs and 19 centuries in a relatively meagre number of appearances, and with the power to add and then some, are figures nobody should sniff at.
These are the performances of a player who, unless something drastic occurs, will go down in the history books as warranting the company of the likes of Greg Chappell, Allan Border and Steve Waugh.
Over-egging the pudding? You may think so but a few years ago not even the most devoted Smith fan would’ve predicted anything like what has achieved – and if they say they did then their nose will start growing – so why shouldn’t he be mentioned in such exalted company if he continues?
It really isn’t how but how many and if he does have glaring weaknesses, nobody seems able to exploit them.
But enough about, as my Roar colleague Ronan O’Connell described the other day, the world’s foremost Test batsman, and on to Maxwell.
Whether by design, good fortune or something else, the Victorian, in a couple of hours of disciplined application, made a mockery of the persistent selection of Mitchell Marsh.
Your number six has to score runs and that is what Maxwell did in Ranchi. In fact, whether or not his bowling is up to it and come the return to home soil he won’t be needed to bowl anyway, if you can’t fulfil your primary purpose then you shouldn’t be there in the first place. So that’s the first boxed ticked.
Another, unless he reverts back to the old type of putting maverick tendencies before pragmatism, is the silencing of the naysayers.
There’s no shying away from previously held views here as Maxwell’s previous incarnation as a white-clothed Australian representative bore nothing that resembled logical thinking.
We’re getting thumped; what can we do? Pick a man who promises neither results, dependability or, rather important for cricket in Asian conditions, adherence to the task in hand.
Well, consider my pessimism to be put firmly in its place.
Prior to the series it was mentioned that India in India could be the time for Maxwell to come of age.
This was based on nothing more substantial than a hunch that he was, if nothing else, as well equipped as any of his touring colleagues for what lay ahead. No science, no evidence and not much else. A bit left-field and with an unapologetic air of sarcasm.
As it’s turned out, left-field sometimes is as straight down the line as it comes and sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
Whisper it quietly, or shout it from the rooftops if that is what you would rather, but a middle order woe – a question: when was the last significant contribution from an Australian number six? – could well have been solved.
Wonders never cease.