Maxwell deserves Ashes selection, but Cartwright is better

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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128 Have your say

    Glenn Maxwell’s Test performances this year warrant his selection for the Ashes, but Hilton Cartwright is the better short and long-term option for the Australian team.

    The number six spot for the first Ashes Test is one of the trickiest decisions the Australian selectors have faced in recent years.

    It would be harsh on Maxwell for him to be dumped after doing a fine job for Australia over four Tests in Asia, a place where so many other Australian batsmen have floundered.

    His average of 37 across those four Tests is, in my opinion, equivalent to averaging 50-to-55 on far friendlier and more familiar home pitches. If Maxwell’s last four Tests had been in Australia and he had averaged in the 50s his position would not even be in question.

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    He will have reason to be greatly aggrieved if he is not selected to play against England. It is important not to undervalue Maxwell’s Test century in India in March, when he came to the crease with Australia in trouble at 4-140 on the first day.

    The list of other Australian batsmen who have scored Test centuries in India over the past decade is a short one filled with elite cricketers – Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Simon Katich, Shane Watson and Marcus North.

    Not only was Maxwell’s ton in India a rare achievement for an Australia batsman but it was also the first century scored by an Australian number six in more than three years. The number six position was a gaping hole for Australia during that period.

    Maxwell was asked to fill that hole, in Asian conditions no less, and did his job. He wasn’t outstanding, but he was good. Denying him the opportunity to build on that in home conditions would be cruel. Yet I think that is the fate which awaits Maxwell, unless he can shine in the second round of the Sheffield Shield.

    Flashy players such as Maxwell typically find it much harder to earn loyalty from fans and, more importantly, selectors. As a comparison, there are far fewer people calling for the axing of circumspect opener Matt Renshaw, despite the fact his batting average was 18, half that of Maxwell’s, during Australia’s last four Tests.

    Both men deserve patience from the selectors.

    However, as much as I think Maxwell deserves to play in the Ashes, I also believe Australia would be a better side with Cartwright at six instead.

    The West Australian batsman’s first-class average of 50 suggests he is ready for Tests. Putting his stats aside, Cartwright just looks every millimetre the Test cricketer.

    He is beautifully balanced at the crease. He plays the ball late, under his eyes and with soft hands. He is rarely caught on the crease, either getting well forward or well back. He is equally strong off the front or back foot, through the off or the leg side.

    Hilton Cartwright of Australia bowls

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    He has multiple gears to his batting, appearing comfortable whether playing cautiously due to conditions or match situation, or taking on the bowlers when required. He is also a world-class fieldsman and a reasonable medium pacer.

    Crucially, Cartwright also seems to rise to a challenge. WA asked him to move up the order to number three in the second half of the last Shield season and he has dominated ever since, making 630 runs at 70 from six matches.

    In the opening round of the current Shield season I thought Cartwright was the second most impressive batsman across the country, after Usman Khawaja.

    On a WACA pitch which offered plenty of assistance for the quicks, Cartwright looked serene. Even Jackson Bird, who bowled so well and consistently troubled the remainder of the WA order, found it hard to disturb Cartwright.

    It took an absolute peach of a delivery, and a suspect LBW call by the umpire, to dismiss him in the first dig, when he had appeared on track for a ton.

    Cartwright’s strong foundation against fast bowling makes him well suited to playing both in the Ashes and in Australia’s following four-Test series in South Africa, with pace to be the biggest threat in both series.
    Cartwright is also an accomplished player of spin – quick to read the length and possessed of nimble and assured footwork.

    Whether all of these attributes translate to success at Test level is impossible to predict. There is no doubt, though, that Cartwright is the type of well-rounded batsman who tends to do well in Test cricket.

    My gut tells me he already has one foot in Australia’s Ashes line-up. Only a stunning effort from Maxwell in the second round of the Shield will stop Cartwright from planting his other boot.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (128)

    • November 2nd 2017 @ 4:59am
      Vikram sudan said | November 2nd 2017 @ 4:59am | ! Report

      Why Australia cannot produce the good test players. Australia is a good country why he is in cricket going down.If Austalia wants produce some good he can do it.

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 8:54am
        Chris Kettlewell said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Nothing special here, just look at England’s attempts to fill up their batting lineup. Real struggle there. India are probably the only country who seem to have real batting depth, and they have over a billion cricket mad people in the country, with more and more resources going into it, it’s hard for there not to be enviable depth there these days.

        I think you’ll find it’s always been tough finding really good test quality batsmen. I think when people look at some of the struggles now, they often romanticise the past a bit. Australia had a really dominant era where there were some really good batsmen who couldn’t break into the side because of the strength of depth, but I think that is more likely the unusual thing, rather than the current situation.

      • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:21am
        Don Freo said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Going down Australia is not.

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 9:50am
        Rellum said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Look at all the discussion about the revamping of the pathways and the Shield over the last 15 years if you want a clue.

    • November 2nd 2017 @ 5:03am
      Vikram sudan said | November 2nd 2017 @ 5:03am | ! Report

      If Australia wants to win the Ashes series my Ashes 11 David Warner Khawaza S Marsh smith head Handscomb Daniel Hughes Jimmy Stonnis

      • November 2nd 2017 @ 8:47am
        spruce moose said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Most teams will find it very difficult to win matches when only 8 are selected.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 2nd 2017 @ 9:11am
          El Loco said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          Jimmy Stonnis is a great pick though, he’s been smashing ’em in the Tuesday night indoor comp.

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 9:05am
        JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        That’s only 8. We’ll probably lose if we only have 8 players.

        • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:22am
          Don Freo said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

          8 is enough against the Poms.

          • November 2nd 2017 @ 11:23am
            Ross said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

            I think he listed 8 because that’s all we need to beat them

          • Roar Guru

            November 2nd 2017 @ 11:36am
            JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

            We might need at least one bowler.

            • November 2nd 2017 @ 1:59pm
              AdrianK said | November 2nd 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              Jimmy can bowl

    • Roar Rookie

      November 2nd 2017 @ 7:55am
      Lancey5times said | November 2nd 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Maxi’s Shield and ODI form has been just awful and it looks like counting against him. Roarers on this site that complain about the Shield not being used as a guide for selection can’t really complain if Cartwright gets the nod.

      It is a big and brave move but if throughout this series the selectors feel they need to give Renshaw some time back at state level a top six with Khawaja opening, Cartwright at 3 and Maxi at six would be worth a try me thinks.

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 8:58am
        Chris Kettlewell said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        When you pick a 21 year old you tend to want to give them a bit more time to work into it. It’s the nature of picking a youngster, hence they aren’t going to drop him after a tough away tour to Asia. However, if he struggles to get past 10-15 in the first couple of matches, I can imagine they might give him a chance to go back to state cricket and work on his game before getting another chance. Whether Khawaja opens and Cartwright at 3, or they bring in S Marsh. (If you have a youngster like Renshaw who you think is the long term future but perhaps needs to go back to domestic cricket and work on his game for a bit before coming back, then picking an older player like Marsh can work to fill the void until then).

        • Roar Guru

          November 2nd 2017 @ 9:10am
          JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          As much as I hate to say it, Marsh is the most likely replacement for Renshaw if they drop him. Marsh has been selected so many times without earning it at Shield level but now, for virtually the first time in his career, he actually has weight of runs demanding that he be picked if Australia needs a replacement in the top 3.

          The selectors are highly unlikely to slot Cartwright in at 3. It would just be too demanding in a series like this. He’ll bat at 5-6 or not at all.

          • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:24am
            Don Freo said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

            Renshaw will be fine. He is not in trouble.

            • November 2nd 2017 @ 11:23am
              Ross said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              I hope we show some faith here

            • Roar Guru

              November 2nd 2017 @ 12:11pm
              JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

              I hope so.

    • November 2nd 2017 @ 8:04am
      John said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Cartwright is my choice, first class average over 50 says it all.

    • Roar Guru

      November 2nd 2017 @ 8:18am
      Red Kev said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Ronan I have a bone to pick with you: “If Maxwell’s last four Tests had been in Australia and he had averaged in the 50s his position would not even be in question.”

      Usman Khawaja’s six-test home summer averaging 58.1 before being immediately dropped says hello.

      • November 2nd 2017 @ 9:24am
        Don Freo said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        You miss his point.

        • Roar Guru

          November 2nd 2017 @ 9:35am
          Red Kev said | November 2nd 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          No, I am saying his point is demonstrably false.

          • November 2nd 2017 @ 10:25am
            Don Freo said | November 2nd 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            Demonstrate the falseness then.

            • November 2nd 2017 @ 11:24am
              Ross said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

              Yeah I see Kev point, if horses for courses applied to Khawaja then it will apply to maxwell too

              • Roar Guru

                November 2nd 2017 @ 11:38am
                JamesH said | November 2nd 2017 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                Yeah but it should be easier to bat in Australia than in India. We don’t need horses for courses on our home turf because all of our cricketers are used to the conditions.

            • November 3rd 2017 @ 4:08am
              The Anti-Don Freo said | November 3rd 2017 @ 4:08am | ! Report

              Are you naturally smug Don Freo or did you have to work at it?

              You need to change your handle to ‘Enron’.

              Because ‘appearing to be smartest guy in the room’ is the basis and motivation for 90% of your posts you do realize this right?

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 8:44am
                TheCunningLinguistic said | November 3rd 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

                Maybe you’re bitter because he is just a little bit smarter than you?

            • Roar Guru

              November 3rd 2017 @ 7:38am
              Red Kev said | November 3rd 2017 @ 7:38am | ! Report

              Fact has demonstrated it for me in the example cited. That is not just comparing apples with apples, that is comparing granny smith apples picked on a Maitland orchard with granny smith apples picked from an adjacent Maitland orchard.

              For everyone who understood the point, I apologise. It appears that Mr Freo is a little slow on the uptake.

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 7:44am
                The Anti-Don Freo said | November 3rd 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

                I cannot wait for the Enron retort…it will be a zinger, nothing surer.

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 9:31am
                Don Freo said | November 3rd 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

                This is the first time you have been on this site with that name. Thanks for the tribute.

                Did you not have the courage to post under your usual moniker?

      • Roar Guru

        November 2nd 2017 @ 10:21am
        Julian King said | November 2nd 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        Yes Red Kev, but we’re playing this series on Aussie wickets.

        • Roar Guru

          November 3rd 2017 @ 7:35am
          Red Kev said | November 3rd 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

          Not relevant. Dropping someone who is averaging a touch shy of 60 is downright favouritism and incompetence. No ifs. No buts. No justification possible.

          • November 3rd 2017 @ 8:49am
            TheCunningLinguistic said | November 3rd 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

            Just because you say something is a fact doesn’t make it so. He is an absolute dud on Asian spinning wickets, he has that deer in the headlights look, nothing will change that.

            • Roar Guru

              November 3rd 2017 @ 8:55am
              Red Kev said | November 3rd 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

              You might want to check the records again champ. Khawaja has a List-A and a First Class century on Asian spinning wickets. He’s also top scored for Australia in an International T20 on Indian soil if memory serves (I could be wrong on that one).

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 12:30pm
                qwetzen said | November 3rd 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                I don’t know what your definition of ‘Asia’ is but CI’s version gives UK the following averages;

                Tests: 9 inn = 14.6
                ODIs: 2 inn = 3.0
                T20s: 3 inn = 22.7

                And averring that someone can bat on “Asian spinning wickets” because they scored a century is as nonsensical as stating that they can bat on “Asian spinning wickets” because they top scored in a T20 in India. A fact is that Jason Gillespie scored more in one Test innings on an “Asian spinning wicket” than UK has in all his in all his 14 innings combined.

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 12:39pm
                Don Freo said | November 3rd 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

                Now that is a good use of a stat…and I’m a big Ussie fan.

              • November 3rd 2017 @ 4:52pm
                Nudge said | November 3rd 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

                Game set match to Don TCL and qwetzen.

              • November 4th 2017 @ 9:34pm
                TheCunningLinguistic said | November 4th 2017 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

                Thanks Nudge!

    • November 2nd 2017 @ 8:22am
      jameswm said | November 2nd 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

      Ronan that pretty much sums up how I feel about it. Maxwell probably deserves a shot after doing pretty well in tough conditions, but the longer things go, the more Cartwright looks like he should be in our top 6 for a long time.

      I have no idea how the selectors see it. But if Maxwell continues to struggle and the Hilton scores a ton in one of the next 2 games, I think that should be enough.

      The Hilton plays against possibly our test lineup next game. That’ll test him. Score runs against them, with the test captain and vice captain watching – can’t hurt your chances.

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