Maxwell and Wade at the crossroads

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    It’s not often a side loses 12 straight road matches without significant repercussions, and the Australian ODI side find themselves at that juncture right now.

    Two players that a few months ago found themselves as vital cogs in both Test and ODI sides, Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell, must wonder where they stand before a huge summer of Ashes cricket.

    Wade has already felt the axe, after he was dropped in favour of Peter Handscomb for Australia’s loss in the third ODI against India.

    The keeper has struggled mightily of late, failing to post a double-figure score in his past five ODI innings and past three Test matches. Given his keeping remains inconsistent, despite close to a decade on the scene, Wade needs to be scoring runs consistently and he has looked frazzled in the mind of late.

    He is a scrapper and a fighter, so naturally when he is out of form, Wade looks particularly ugly with the willow.

    Despite not firing with the bat, the Test side had a significant reversal in fortunes when he was recalled, reeling off five straight victories, including a series sweep of Pakistan and a shock opening-Test victory in India.

    However, now that the side has won just one of its past five Tests, including an unconvincing 1-1 series draw in Bangladesh, Wade’s numbers are under the microscope.

    At 29 years of age, he should be in the prime of his career, however the prospect of Australia recalling Peter Nevill or even looking further afield for the upcoming Ashes series is real.

    The more interesting case is that of Maxwell.

    After a majestic, breakthrough hundred in India in the third Test, his form has petered off badly. Maxwell has made enough starts in his past few Tests to keep the wolves at bay, however having finally been granted a prolonged role in the ODI side higher in the order, he has failed to deliver.

    The No.5 batting role carries significant responsibility, and Maxwell’s numbers are underwhelming since Australia won the 2015 World Cup in Australia, making just 668 runs in 31 matches, at an average of 27.83, including just four half-centuries and no hundreds.

    In 22 ODIs outside Australia since the World Cup, Maxwell averages a paltry 19.11, with a solitary half-century, coming in 2015.

    With Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Callum Ferguson, Kurtis Patterson, Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh around the traps, Maxwell now finds himself playing for his position.

    The Indians got inside his head in this ODI series, where his shot selection was questionable – with Australia having lost captain Steve Smith on Sunday, to see Maxwell stumped off a wide the very next ball was poor.

    There were times you expected the free-spirited Maxwell to attack, but instead he poked about. of course, when you’re under pressure as a batsman, sometimes the more you think about it, the worse it gets.

    Glenn Maxwell Sad

    AP Photo/Jon Super

    Both Maxwell and Wade head into the summer relying on strong Shield form to hold onto their places come the first Ashes Test, in Brisbane.

    The pair will no longer be domestic teammates (if that’s what you could call them, given Maxwell’s recent remarks about Wade batting above him), Wade having departed for his home state of Tasmania after 11 years in Victoria.

    If forced to make a call for Brisbane now, I would stick with Maxwell, given his reasonable Test form at No.6, and dispense with Wade.

    However, there is still plenty of water to go under the bridge before November 23 and a century for either player would probably get them over the line.

    When push comes to shove, subjectivity is hard to find in cricket. Your recent runs, wickets and catches are there in black and white, and are your only real currency when under pressure.

    For Wade and Maxwell, it’s time to deliver, or they could find themselves on the outside looking in for good.