As a cricket fan there isn’t a more frustrating sight than watching Glenn Maxwell throw away the incredible talent he possesses.
Despite multiple chances provided to him in all formats by the selectors, Maxwell hasn’t been able to leave his stamp in any of them. He was dropped from the Test side not that long ago, and even though there were lots of hue and cry regarding his omission in the current team set-up, it was an inevitable occurrence.
The question, though, is whether he is still the right choice for the middle order – the same middle order that was the major reason for the UAE debacle last month. The top order, which will be bolstered by the return of Matt Renshaw, is all fine considering the Aussies will be playing at home against India, but the middle order in the UAE comprising Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne just did not stand up to be counted.
The Marsh brothers, who have had a wonderful time in the Shield games so far, looked clueless in UAE against Mohammad Abbas and the spinners, and young Marnus Labuschagne looked more like a bowling all-rounder than a middle order bat on his first tour to Asia with the national side.
So with just three weeks to go before the Indian series begins, the Australian middle order conundrum is until well and truly alive. Glenn Maxwell, who has had a horror run in the shorter format, is one of the popular choices for the middle order spot.
Maxwell has a good first-class record, but his performances have been patchy when it comes to Tests. He has played all his 14 Test innings in Asia and has failed to get past 20 in eight of them. Even though that can happen against the spinners in Asia, the statistic that will bother Australia is that of the six times he got starts, he was able to convert only one of them to a score of over 50. This has been Maxwell’s problem in ODIs as well, which may cause a lot of issues for an already struggling Australian middle order.
Australia need to look at someone like Jason Sangha or Peter Handscomb for the middle order role. Sangha provides an exciting option as he is not only a good young batter but can also bowl competent leg spin, which gives the team a good sixth bowling option.
Peter Handscomb, though, has done extremely well this season so far, scoring 200 runs for Victoria at an average of 50. There are other options like Joe Burns, Alex Doolan, Jake Lehmann and Tom Cooper, who all have had an excellent start to the Sheffield Shield season.
Shaun Marsh, who had a horror series against Pakistan in UAE, has looked brilliant since returning home. His ODI form has been brilliant for a while, but his Shield performances in the few games he has played have been stellar as well. He might hold on to his spot in the Test XI against India starting early next month.
Australia need to plan, and their horses for courses selection so far has yielded poor results for the Test team. With Renshaw returning at the top, the batting order of Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head makes a solid top four for the home Tests at least.
A batting line-up which comprises Mitch Marsh batting at No.6 would need a solid batter at No.5, and I don’t think Glenn Maxwell provides that for Australia now.