Australia’s captain Steven Smith has warned Glenn Maxwell to improve his training habits or face the possibility of missing out on plans for the World Cup defence in 2019, after he was dropped from the ODI squad to face England in five matches following the Ashes.
Maxwell’s omission was the major change to the limited-overs team named on Wednesday, with his place taken by the Twenty20 hitter Chris Lynn despite the fact that the Queenslander no longer plays state cricket and struggles in the field due to a chronic shoulder problem. Smith, who made his own evolution as a player to become the best batsman in the world after a quirky beginning, is clearly tiring of Maxwell’s inability to make a similar transition himself.
“I think just looking at the way he trains I think he could train a little bit smarter,” Smith said. “We’ve all seen the way Glenn can come out and play and do all his funky stuff and be pretty cool with that, but when he puts his head down he’s actually a really good batsman, as we’ve seen in Shield cricket he’s got some big runs there.
“If he keeps his head switched on and trains really well and focuses on basic things more so than the expansive things, then I think that’ll help him have his consistency and if he’s having those consistent performances he’s certainly a person you want in your team.
“We’ve got a really strong side. Lots of power-hitting in the middle with Chris Lynn, Mitch Marsh, [Marcus] Stoinis, guys that have done well. It’s unlucky on Glenn, but if we look back at his last 20 one-dayers I think he’s averaged around 20 and he’s come back and played some pretty good Shield cricket but we want to keep seeing some consistent performances from him and keep putting his name up there, I think that’s the most important thing for him.”
After reaching a high of 36.25 against India in January 2016, Maxwell’s ODI batting average has gradually slipped back to 32.30 after the recent ODI series in India, where he played only three of five matches. Over the same period his strike-rate has also dropped, and he has still only made a single ODI century – against Sri Lanka at the SCG during the 2015 World Cup. The selection chairman Trevor Hohns echoed Smith’s call for greater consistency.
“No-one is in any doubt about Glenn’s ability or his potential to produce match-winning contributions with the bat,” Hohns said. “What we have wanted from him is more consistency but in his past 20 matches in this format he has averaged 22 and we need more than that from a player in the side’s batting engine room.
“Glenn is still absolutely in our thoughts, but for this series we have decided to look again at Chris Lynn, who is now back playing once more after the shoulder injury that hampered him when we picked him against Pakistan in this format 12 months ago. He has been one of the most feared players at domestic level in limited-overs cricket in the past couple of years and we want to see if he can convert that domestic form to the international stage.”
Hohns delivered the stern message that time was running out for Australia to settle their team ahead of the 2019 World Cup, which is due to be played in England in the early part of the northern summer. “With our defence of the ICC Cricket World Cup just 17 months away, we are seeking to get a squad in place that can form the basis of the line-up for that campaign and at the same time regain ground in the ODI rankings, given we have slipped from the number one position over the past 12 months,” he said.
“There will still be further opportunities for players to force their way into the reckoning for the squad to go to England and Wales in 2019 but the sooner we can settle on our best combination and get them playing together and in form on a regular basis then the better our chances will be of retaining the trophy we won at home in 2015.”
As expected, Tim Paine was rewarded for his strong showing in the Ashes series by replacing Matthew Wade as ODI wicketkeeper as well. Paine last played an ODI for Australia in April 2011 in Bangladesh, Michael Clarke’s first tour as fully-fledged Australian captain, but possesses a sturdy record in the format including one century.
“Tim forced his way into the Twenty20 International squad last summer, and after coming back into the Test squad at the beginning of the Ashes series he has made a terrific contribution with bat and gloves,” Hohns said. “He deserves his opportunity in this form of the game and the challenge for Matthew is to return to the type of form that saw him score a one-day international hundred against Pakistan last summer.”
Mirroring the selection of Lynn based on his T20 record, the selectors also elected to elevate the West Australian pair of Jhye Richardson and Andrew Tye following their strong and consistent displays for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League. Richardson is a bowler of particular interest for the selectors given his capacity for high pace. Both will provide support for Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins at the back end of the Ashes summer.
“The three fast bowlers that made key contributions to us regaining The Ashes have all been included as we want to have some firepower with the ball during this ODI series,” Hohns said. “However, at the same time, we are conscious that they have had heavy workloads during the Tests and so on that basis it is likely we will give each of them some deserved time off at different stages during this series.
“Jhye featured in the Twenty20 international series against Sri Lanka last summer, is someone we have had our eyes on for a while and he is the complete package: he bowls with good pace, he has got good variations in short-form cricket, is a good fielder and is a handy batsman too. He was also the joint leading wicket-taker in the one-day cup that Western Australia won at the start of the summer and so he fully deserves his spot.
“Andrew Tye is in outstanding limited-overs form as he is demonstrating in the Big Bash League, is another player who did extremely well in the one-day cup for Western Australia and merits his chance to try and cement a spot in the 50-over side after having played in the recent T20 international series in India.”
The selectors were unable to consider either Nathan Coulter-Nile or Jason Behrendorff as both continue to struggle with back problems. “We have given Nathan the last few months to see how his early-stage stress fracture is progressing with the view of trying to play in the BBL,” CA head of sports science Alex Kountouris said. “Unfortunately, he is still experiencing pain and will need a longer recovery period so will not be available for the remainder of the BBL and the ODI series against England in January.”
Behrendorff has likewise been struggling with the recurrence of an old back injury while continuing to play in the early part of the season, and has duly been ruled out of the back end of the summer. “Jason has been experiencing lower-back pain that relates to an old lumbar stress fracture that flared during the pre-season period and has been managing it through the One Day Cup, international T20 series versus India, and the early rounds of the Sheffield Shield,” the WACA physio Nick Jones said.
“Jason’s back pain flared again in the first innings of the Round 4 Sheffield Shield match against Queensland. Despite not bowling since this flare-up, his pain has not settled sufficiently to be able to return to bowling. Jason requires an extended period of rest from bowling to allow this pain to resolve and will not be available for the remainder of BBL07 and the T20 series against England and New Zealand later in the summer.”