Glenn Maxwell deserved his ODI axing

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    The Australian selectors were justified in dropping Glenn Maxwell from the ODI squad, but it was an odd choice to replace him with a cricketer who is not fully fit in Chris Lynn.

    The decision to axe Maxwell from the squad to play England this month was framed by many media outlets as a shock. Yet it seemed like an obvious choice considering he has averaged just 20 with the bat in his past 21 matches, stretching back almost two years.

    At his best, Maxwell is one of the most valuable ODI players in the world – a ballistic ball striker, dynamic fieldsman and handy bowler. He has a truly rare ability to obliterate quality bowlers, owning the second highest strike rate in ODI history.

    This made him the perfect ‘icing on the cake’ middle order batsman in 2014 and 2015 when Australia’s top four was consistently firing. But over the past two years Australia’s batting has been less reliable and Maxwell, often batting at five, has regularly come to the crease with his team in poor shape.

    The 29-year-old is not well suited to rebuilding an innings, although that doesn’t excuse his low output during that period. In moving to number three and piling up runs in the Sheffield Shield, Maxwell has shown that he is a versatile first-class batsman. He was unable to show the same development in ODIs and it has cost him his spot.

    His cause also hasn’t been helped by captain Steve Smith’s bizarre reluctance to use him with the ball. When Smith took over as ODI captain two-and-a-half years ago, Maxwell was fresh from a dominant World Cup campaign in which he was named in the Team of the Tournament and operated as Australia’s main spinner.

    Maxwell had developed into a solid ODI spinner, taking 29 wickets at an average of 26 between September 2014 and September 2015. But under Smith the off spinner has been barely used – in the past two years he has bowled only 1.6 overs per match, on average, and has not bowled at all in 12 of his last 16 matches.

    Maxwell’s decline with the bat closely coincides with this massively reduced role with the ball. That’s still no excuse, though – he is talented enough to play as a specialist batsman but needs to find greater consistency.

    However, in replacing Maxwell with Lynn the selectors have made an odd choice.

    Chris Lynn of the Heat raises his bat

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Lynn’s generous talent with the bat across all formats is clear. Just as obvious is his physical frailty, with Lynn having missed huge chunks of cricket due to injury since making his domestic debut seven years ago as a 19-year-old. Quite incredibly, it is more than four years since Lynn last played a domestic 50-over match.

    He did not play in either the Shield of the domestic One Day Cup this summer before making his comeback from a persistent shoulder injury just eight days ago in the Big Bash League. While Lynn made an impact with the bat in his last BBL game, cracking 63 not out, he has looked ginger in the field, clearly still hampered by his shoulder and unable to throw properly.

    Given there is nothing but pride riding on the five-match series against England it seems to make little sense to be rushing Lynn back into a longer format.

    The controversy around the axing of Maxwell also distracted from the elevation to the ODI squad of Western Australia quicks Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye.

    At just 21 years old, Richardson is one of the most exciting young talents in the country, an accurate and crafty paceman capable of bowling at 145km/h. He was the equal leading wicket-taker in the recent domestic One Day Cup with 13 wickets at 27 from seven matches.

    Tye also shone in that competition, with nine wickets at 17, and has an incredible List A record of 50 wickets at 21 from just 24 matches. The 31-year-old has made his name as a T20 bowler thanks to his befuddling array of variations. Tye has laboured in his seven T20Is for Australia, however, going at close to 10 runs per over while collecting six wickets at 38.

    Both Tye and Richardson will be making their ODI debuts if they play against England. Their ascension to the ODI squad was helped by injuries to quality pacemen Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the loss of form of James Faulkner, and the recent retirement from ODIs of John Hastings.

    Australia ODI Squad
    Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

    Australia’s Best XI
    1. Aaron Finch
    2. David Warner (vc)
    3. Steve Smith (c)
    4. Travis Head
    5. Mitchell Marsh
    6. Marcus Stoinis
    7. Tim Paine
    8. Mitchell Starc
    9. Pat Cummins
    10. Adam Zampa
    11. Josh Hazlewood

    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 (53)

    • January 4th 2018 @ 7:36am
      James Jackson said | January 4th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Maxwell has been totally mishandled by Smith and Lehmann. Yes, form is ultimately up to the player, but we all talk about Khawaja’s lean periods coinciding with low confidence inflicted by selectors, so why should we be so quick to ridicule Maxwell, pick him up, drop him and mess him around and then expect him to just carry on as normal?

      The guy had a breakthrough in India and gets dropped (reasonable justifications aside), makes 278 in Shield and gets as little recognition as possible for it, and then just gets the old ‘he needs to be more consistent’ rhetoric. Even if his dropping is 100% justified this time around, it seems as if other players get lenient selections and have their chance to prove themselves – Maxwell’s whole career is seemingly proving himself without any historical cataloguing of his actual successes.

      If we acknowledge he’s valuable because of his boom or bust proclivities, don’t pretend like we suddenly need him to be Michael Bevan – however it seems Smith and Lehmann say that so as to move the goal posts and make Maxwell impossible to pick.

      Maybe if he had some more backing from his team he would perform. Sorry if that seems rantish, but if we actually put the Maxwell narrative in a timeline over the past two years, then it’s pretty obvious he’s got a raw deal at times.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 10:13am
        Adam Hallinan said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        1000% agreed! If ‘he needs to be more consistent’ is the requirement for getting in the Aussie squad it makes it even harder to understand the Marsh bros. selections in either format.

      • Columnist

        January 4th 2018 @ 10:51am
        Ronan O'Connell said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        James I agree that Maxwell was treated poorly in terms of Test selection, he deserved to start in the team for this Ashes.

        But that’s a separate issue to his ODI omission, which was justified. Maxwell’s actually been shown plenty of patience by the selectors in ODIs given his poor form the past two years.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 2:32pm
        AnD said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

        Exactly James. There are rules for some, and not for others in the world of Australian cricket. It’s high time the rules were applied across the board so that we could make sense of some of the selections. Maxwell not being in the ODI side is justifiable, but the selectors are very two-faced in their approach and he’s just one of numerous players who repeatedly gets a raw deal while other players are given numerous failings to redeem themselves.

      • January 5th 2018 @ 7:00am
        Bretto said | January 5th 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

        I figured Maxwell must have slept with someone’s wife. Seems he also slept with their Mum, Auntie, the canteen lady, hairdresser, …..

        • Roar Guru

          January 6th 2018 @ 2:08pm
          JamesH said | January 6th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

          Well at least he’s in good form off the field.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 7:40am
      Josh said | January 4th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      So Lynn hasnt played a one day match in 4 years and cant field or bowl yet he is a better choice. While Maxwell has been in the best form of his career abd really looks to have turned a corner. Perhaps if he was from NSW or named Marsh he would be fine. It seems Steve Smith just doesent like him which is why he was dropped and in all honesty why he wasnt picked for the test side as well. Smith might be a great batsmen but hasnt exactly excelled as Captain outside of his own batting and this is just another example.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 12:06pm
        GD66 said | January 4th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        With you there Josh, Smith’s run of form with the bat is terrifying but as a captain I find him reactive, stubborn and petulant.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 4:18pm
          dan ced said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          Agreed. Makes idiotic suggestions to the selectors, questionable decisions as captain. Seems like a bit of a dick really.

          Lynn should not be rushed into the team on the back on zero form and hefty injuries. It’s like selecting Smersh when all he does it tear hammies and break fingers in between some decent scores.

          Mitch Marsh was rushed back in the test team after bowling his first 4 shield overs in over a year!

        • January 5th 2018 @ 6:58am
          Bretto said | January 5th 2018 @ 6:58am | ! Report

          Smith will become hunted if his batting falls apart. Poor captain across a number of areas, not least the most important one of all – man management.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm
        Pedro the Maroon said | January 4th 2018 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

        I think it odd that they pick Lynn when the better credentialled Burns is still sitting in the Qld side smacking runs in all forms of the game. Apart from being the form bat outside the test side (and better than a few in the test side) Burns is a gun in the field.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:33am
      Alan said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I’m an unabashed fan of Maxwell’s but even I can understand him being dropped from the ODI team (the test team not so much but that’s another story). I agree with you Ronan that Lynn is a strange choice as his replacement.

      Given the selectors form this year I guess he’s about to score a few rapid hundreds 🙂

    • January 4th 2018 @ 9:02am
      Ando said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Not saying Maxwell deserved to be picked, but it’s the conflicting excuses given by the selectors which make his axing strange. Marsh averaged about 22 over his previous tests and yet was selected on his (somewhat inferior to Maxwell’s) domestic form, whereas Maxwell is dropped on previous ODI form despite the fact he went back to domestic cricket and scored runs as he was directed by the selectors. I feel like he has the right to be aggrieved about his axing

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2018 @ 9:05am
      Ryan H said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      They’re obsessed with getting Lynn in – he played last summer in the ODI matches against Pakistan and if I recall, hardly set the stage on fire. While he’s one of the first picked in Australia’s T20 side and rightly so, I’m far from convinced the method automatically works in the 50-over game.

      I’d like to see the XI you’ve listed Ronan, the only thing I wouldn’t mind seeing is Paine bat higher maybe at 3, as suggested in other articles, and dropping M.Marsh down to 7 where his late innings hitting could be really valuable with Stoinis at 6.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 4th 2018 @ 9:23am
        Matthew Pearce said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        I’d love it if they left Lynn alone for a couple of years, see if his body can hold up well enough to actually play some games for his state, and then bring him in for a well-deserved Aus stint.

        They’ve been rushing him in and busting him up again (the Champions Trophy was the epitome), and we’ve been deprived of one of our best batsmen for years thanks to it.

        • Columnist

          January 4th 2018 @ 10:52am
          Ronan O'Connell said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          I agree Matthew, I think all Australian fans are excited by what Lynn could potentially do in Australian colours but his body is very fragile, he needs to be handled with care.

      • January 5th 2018 @ 7:09am
        Bretto said | January 5th 2018 @ 7:09am | ! Report

        Why would you need both Marsh and Stoinis in the same team – there are 4 pure bowlers, 2 all-rounders (Marsh, Stoinis), and 2 batsmen who bowl handy overs (Finch, Head). Surely you can drop one of the all rounders for a pure batsman. Unless you are suggesting both Marsh and Stoinis are good enough to be picked as batsmen?
        Would you rather have Marsh coming in at 5, or Maxwell coming in at 5?
        And do we really need Cummins, Starc, Hazelwood to be playing meaningless ODI games.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 9:15am
      rtp said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      Forget Lynn’s brittleness he is totally unsuited for ODIs. In ODIs the most important skill is to be able to hit ones and twos if you are coming in between 3 and 6. You also need to be able to find the boundary but that can’t be your one and only shot because it isn’t enough to survive for 5 overs and get a quickfire 30 you need to be able to survive for 20 or even 30 overs when the situation arises that your team are 3 for not much.

      Lynn can play T20s and he can play first class because in both of those, the ability to hit singles and twos isn’t critical. In T20s it barely matters at all and in first class you can get away with not doing so. You can’t get away with not being able to work the ball around in 50 overs matches because you need to be able to score at 4-6 runs an over *without* taking significant risks.

      I accept that Maxwell deserves to be dropped (although I don’t want him to be) but Lynn is a horrible choice.

      Selectors seem to have the Midas touch and obviously Lynn could easily hit a quickfire 70 off not many balls and everybody will say that he is the ODI messiah but until he can show that he can come in when his team is under pressure and show that he is able to put risk free runs on the board at a decent rate he should simply never be allowed to play ODIs.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:50am
        Frankie Hughes said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        Chris Lynn has a superior first record to all of the Test team bar Smith and Warner. Lynn’s highest score in the Shield is 250 and I highly doubt he scored them all in boundaries. Lynn is a very special player. He probably doesn’t merit an odi call up at this time but don’t ridicule his skills

        • January 4th 2018 @ 1:17pm
          rtp said | January 4th 2018 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Did you miss the part where I said that his skills are well suited to first class matches? I just worked out that Lynn has hit 60% of his runs in first class in boundaries. To compare, Ponting scored less than 50% of his test runs from boundaries (cricinfo doesn’t have first class boundaries for his generation of players).

          That is a pretty big difference. Hussey had basically the same as Ponting. The only one that I suspect would even go close is Hayden with 54% of test runs in boundaries.

          So Lynn is a massive outlier. In first class that is fine – to a point. In T20s it is exactly what you want. In ODIs it is a recipe for disaster.

      • Roar Guru

        January 6th 2018 @ 2:10pm
        JamesH said | January 6th 2018 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Nice analysis.

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