The upside of Glenn Maxwell’s omission from Australia’s ODI team to tackle India this week is he’s getting extra preparation for what could be the defining moment of his career: the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Maxwell is Australia’s single most important T20I player and has the ability to blast them to their first-ever T20 World Cup trophy in October and November this year.
He showcased his rare ball-striking ability while smashing seven sixes en route to a match-winning knock of 83* from 45 balls in the BBL on Friday.
After being a fixture of the ODI team for the past six years, Maxwell was left out of Australia’s squad for the three-match series that begins in India in two days from now.
That squad was announced just before the start of the BBL, which Maxwell has since dominated. The Victorian all-rounder has been the standout player of the BBL to date. He has been very handy with the ball, averaging 27 with an economy rate of 6.87 runs per over, and has been unstoppable with the blade, making 311 runs at 78 while scoring at an incredible 10.2 runs per over.
Maxwell’s phenomenal scoring rate is what sets him apart from his peers in T20 cricket. This is highlighted by the fact that, among the top ten run-scorers in this BBL, the nine other batsmen have an averaging scoring rate of just 8.0 runs per over.
He’s no longer a wildcard batsman, either, having become impressively consistent in the shortest format. In this BBL he has reached 40 in five of his eight innings.
Maxwell now has the ability to either go ballistic from ball one or work his way into an innings before cutting loose. On Friday, against the Melbourne Renegades, Maxwell crept to 12 from 11 balls before deciding to launch. He promptly hammered 71 from his next 34 balls, treating pace and spin with equal disdain.
The quality of that knock, coupled with his scorching form across the BBL, prompted pundits and fans to start questioning his omission from Australia’s ODI squad.
Maxwell and Stoinis – Australia’s two main ODI all-rounders over the past three years – were both dumped from the ODI set-up for this tour of India. Australia made the unusual choice of not selecting a batting all-rounder, which means bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar will have to take the place of Maxwell and bat in the top seven.
Australian ODI skipper Aaron Finch, a close friend of Maxwell’s, told media this week that he remained strongly in contention for future ODI squads.
“It (the door) is never closed, but when you’re picking a side there has to be a spot there,” Finch said about Maxwell. “It just comes down to being in the right place at the right time and having the right match-up.”
Australia may regret not selecting Maxwell, who has a very good ODI record against India with a batting average of 34 and a crazy scoring rate of 7.8 runs per over from his 25 matches.
Maxwell is also hugely experienced in Asia, where he’s averaged 38 at a scoring rate of 7.4 runs per over in his 26 ODIs.
In his absence, it could be left to Ashton Turner and Alex Carey in the middle order to try to attack India’s spinners. While Maxwell’s ODI career has taken a hit, he is in the form of his life in T20s.
Maxwell is the world’s fifth-ranked T20I batsman but he’s the most valuable batsman in this format at international level.
In his last 30 innings in T20Is, Maxwell has piled up 1168 runs at 51 while scoring at 9.7 runs per over. Among the top ten run-scorers in T20Is in that same period, Maxwell is the only batsman who averages more than 40 while also scoring at better than 9.0 runs per over.
Babar Azam, the world’s number one ranked T20I batsman, has equalled Maxwell’s average in that time but has scored at just 7.6 runs per over compared to Maxwell’s 9.7.
On the big Australia grounds in this year’s T20 World Cup, Maxwell’s rare ability to clear the boundary against elite spin or pace bowlers will be the trump card for the hosts.
Getting extra T20 matches under his belt instead of playing random bi-lateral ODI series could well benefit both Maxwell and Australia.