I honestly thought this Glenn Maxwell-Matthew Wade thing would’ve blown over by now, but by not picking him in the first two one dayers against New Zealand, Cricket Australia have poured fuel on the fire.
In what was largely a state issue, CA bought into the saga when they – and not Victoria – decided to hand down the ‘thou shalt not wail on a teammate batting too high’ fine last weekend.
The only ‘national’ crime that Maxwell committed was that he was wearing a CA shirt and cap when he gave his now infamous press conference responses when asked about his chances of a Test recall.
He was left out of the Australian side for the first ODI of the summer in Sydney on Sunday, though the mail even by the time the first ball was bowled was that Maxwell would play the second match in Canberra on Tuesday.
This was CA’s opportunity to kill the matter dead. Playing Maxwell would’ve turned the heat directly back on the player himself, with a clear message to put up or shut up.
But by Tuesday morning, the pre-match scuttlebutt had switched to Australia ‘will likely name an unchanged side’ for the Manuka Oval match. They ultimately played allrounder James Faulkner in place of spinner Adam Zampa, and Maxwell was consigned to net bowler duties while the bowling group commenced their pre-game stretch.
And in doing so, the impasse remains.
Maxwell may well play in the third and now dead rubber match in Melbourne on Friday, but regardless of his status in the XI, the awkward line of questioning remains.
“Will Maxwell and Wade play in the same side?”
“Did the selectors or the leadership group make the decision to leave Maxwell out?”
“Is Maxwell effectively serving two sentences?”
Who should Maxwell have played for in Canberra? Aaron Finch? George Bailey? Mitch Marsh? Honestly, it doesn’t matter who made way, the point is there was an opening for Maxwell to come in and back up his words and that opportunity was missed.
If he played and made runs, then the team probably still wins. If he played and failed with the bat, well not too many would’ve argued if Maxwell was made to be the scapegoat for a loss, or even if he was subsequently left out of a winning team.
But until Maxwell plays again, the story lingers.
And while ever it lingers, you can’t help but think about what has been said.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Maxwell was asked last weekend if batting at no.6 for Victoria had hampered his chances of a Test recall in Adelaide, to which he replied, “I think probably batting below the wicketkeeper is also a bit painful as well. I think the wicketkeeper should be batting at seven unless you’re trying to squeeze an extra bowler into your line.”
As it was, national coach Darren Lehmann poured cold water on a Maxwell recall, saying, “No [he was no chance for Adelaide]. Because he hasn’t made a hundred for the last two years. You need to make hundreds.”
Presumably, Lehmann meant Sheffield Shield hundreds; surely the national coach with a selector’s cap stuck in his back pocket wouldn’t overlook Maxwell’s T20I 145no against Sri Lanka in September.
And while it’s true that Maxwell hasn’t made a Shield century in two years, but he did make a First Class hundred for Yorkshire in July 2015, in the middle of a fruitful stint with the bat in all forms of the game for the White Rose.
Going back to the start of that 2015 English summer, Maxwell actually has three centuries and 20 fifties to his name in all forms of the game, and in teams ranging from the Yorkshire seconds to the IPL and BBL, to Shield cricket and limited overs internationals. It could be better, sure, but it’s hardly the record of a bloke with barely a run to his name in two years.
So far for Victoria this summer he’s managed a fifty during the BBQ Cup, of which he missed several games while on ODI duty, and he made 81 versus Queensland in a Shield game last month. I don’t think he was ever a realistic chance of a Test recall, for what it’s worth, but I’m not sure his record deserved the criticism Lehmann delivered.
Regardless, the heat remains on Maxwell to deliver on his words, but until he’s picked he can’t do that. The sooner he performs, the better off everyone will be and the story will be quickly moved on from.
But the longer it lingers, the more the obvious strain remains. And only Cricket Australia can control how long that strain lasts.