The omission of Glenn Maxwell from the Australian test side to take on Sri Lanka has led to a lot of eyebrows being raised, and both selector Trevor Hohns and coach Justin Langer were unable to provide reasonable answers that actually make sense. Glenn Maxwell’s first class average of 41.00 is one of the highest in the first class system. In his seven test matches, he is yet to fail. This season he is averaging 42.00. So why isn’t he being picked?
Wait on, yet to fail? He has a batting average of 26.07 and a bowling average of 42.62 at test level. Surely that suggests that he has failed!
Except that, if you look at the actual matches, he didn’t fail at all.
First of all, consider that all seven of Glenn Maxwell’s test matches have been overseas. Worse than that, they have been in the subcontinent. four were in India, which is Australia’s hardest away country, with two in Bangladesh and one in the UAE, all areas where Australian batsmen tend to get low scores. In his first test, playing as a bowler and batting at number eight, Maxwell scored 13 & 8 out of team totals of 237 & 131, then took 4/127 (Australia’s best bowling figures for the match) the only time Australia bowled.
What a guy!
Debut test, playing as a bowler, he gets the most wickets of anyone. He adds 21 runs in a low-scoring match too. Great debut. In his second test, playing as a bowler and batting at number seven, Maxwell scored 10 & 8 (opening the innings in the second innings) out of team totals of 262 & 164, then took 1/12 & 2/54, opening the bowling in the second innings.
What a player!
In his third test, playing as a batsman and batting at number 4, Maxwell scored 37 & 4 out of team totals of 261 & 243 and took 0/78 as Pakistan piled on 6 for 570 declared as Younis Khan, Azhar Ali and Misbah ul Haq slaughtered Australia. It was probably Maxwell’s worst test, though at least his first innings was decent, compared to the other players. In saying that, though, Maxwell was far from Australia’s worst player. Chris Rogers scored 5 & 2. Perhaps that was a minor failure, though, but he wasn’t far off the others.
That one minor failure, Maxwell’s only bad test out of 3, saw Maxwell spend four years on the sides, between 2013 and 2017. So much for showing faith in him! He wasn’t that bad really. Other players would get another test to prove themselves, but not Maxwell. Maxwell was dumped for four years. Coming back for his fourth test against India, Maxwell scored his first Test Century, 104, though he failed in the second innings with 2. He bowled 4 overs but failed to take a wicket as he conceded 13 runs as Australia hung on for the draw.
In his 5th test, he scored 8 & 45 out of team totals of 300 & 137. In the second innings, he top scored, with the second highest score being 25 not out by wicket keeper Matthew Wade. What a player.
In test number 6, in Bangladesh, he scored 23 & 14 out of team totals of 217 & 244 and took 1/15 & 0/24. Not exactly brilliant but hardly a failure. Australia lost by 21 runs. Khawaja scored 1 & 1 and Josh Hazlewood failed to take a wicket. It was perhaps a minor failure but not awful.
In his seventh and so far last test, also in Bangladesh, Maxwell scored 38 and 25 not out, as he hit the winning runs, out of team totals of 377 & 3/87. He also bowled 4 overs for 0/13. At most you can say that Maxwell had 2 poor tests, but neither of them were total failures. His last test was a success. He even hit the winning runs!
Maxwell was supposed to play in the 2017/18 Ashes but somehow he was replaced. He was meant to play in UAE but didn’t make it. He even scored a double century, his highest ever score of 278, but he wasn’t given a shot. Former coach Darren Lehmann lied by saying that Maxwell hasn’t been scoring runs. It’s simply not true. New coach Justin Langer repeated the lie more recently.
And that’s the thing. There is absolutely no reason to exclude Maxwell, except for people who focus on his misleading statistics in tests, and ignore how he actually played. Cricket followers often focus on statistics, but then we use them to say whatever we want to say, but the problem with Maxwell is that there really isn’t any wriggle room.
However much you like Marnus Labuschagne, his first class and test records are worse than Maxwell’s, and there is simply no way to put Labuschagne ahead of Maxwell.
Maxwell earned his spot while Labuschagne didn’t. Labuschagne is a hunch. While hunches are okay every now and then, and occasionally they work, when they don’t we should be dumping them, not the players that earn their spots as Maxwell has.
It’s time to end the Maxwell exclusion. He’s only ever played in away tests. Let’s give him one at home under easier conditions and see what he can do.
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