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Glenn Maxwell brings balance to this Australian side

By Real11 - Sep 28 2023 236 Views
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Glenn Maxwell a vital piece to Australia's World Series jigsaw puzzle

Glenn Maxwell’s triumphant return to the Australian setup with ball in hand was a timely stimulant for a unit whose World Series preparation had hit numerous snags in the past few weeks- and an insight into an essential part of their gameplan. 

Maxwell, who missed the preceding matches in South Africa or India due to an ankle injury first and then a paternity leave, chipped in with a career best 4 for 40 in Rajkot to help Australia end their five match losing streak. It incorporated a reflex return catch to dismiss a well set Rohit Sharma, and an remarkable delivery to uproot Shreyas Iyer’s off stump to all but seal the win. 

This was only Maxwell’s second ODI since returning from the ankle injury. He is still feeling the impact of that injury and there remains a degree of precariousness as to how he will manage the workload during the marquee event- the densely packed schedule with a lot of travel could pose challenges- but there is hardly any doubt that his presence in the team helps Australia in multiple ways. 

If Maxwell can consistently deliver with the ball and be as effective as he was in Rajkot, he could be a feasible second spinner alongside Adam Zampa, which would give Australia the luxury to play with three quicks, given they are comfortable with Mitchell Starc or Pat Cummins at Number 8.

Maxwell’s average of 47.71 does not give an indication of the value he adds to Australia’s bowling prowess. His offspin has significantly improved over the years- to an extent where he almost earned a Test recall. If it wasn’t for the broken leg, he would have likely competed in the series against India earlier this year too. 

"What he brings to our team from a balance perspective is really, really important for us," Mitchell Marsh said after Australia's win in Rajkot. "There may be wickets where he's the third spinner through this World Cup. But just the ability for us to play the three quicks, a spinner and have Maxi who has the ability on the right wicket to bowl ten overs, think you see a lot of teams around the world have guys like Maxi; it gives you a lot of flexibility with the teams you can pick or the way you can structure your batting line-up."

Maxwell’s batting will also be critical to Australia’s prospects. He was cleaned up by an outstanding yorker in Rajkot, but a team with him coming in at number 6 or number 7 has a more intimidating look to it, specifically if he can regain the form he displayed in 2020 and 2022. 

There was a run of few matches against England and Sri Lanka- although stretched over a long spell due to Australia’s lack of ODIs during the pandemic - where Maxwell smashed a century and five fifties, coming often at number 7. Ever since, his performances with the bat have plunged- an average of 15.25, and a strike rate of 91.04 in nine innings- but he is a proven match winner, who on his day can single handedly change the fate of a match.  

Australia’s middle order needs to step up. While the loss of Travis Head for at least the initial days of the World Series is a massive blow, the presence of David Warner, Mitch Marsh and Steven Smith provides a nice mix of brute power and solidity at the top of the order. But lower order, the output has been far from satisfactory, with Marcus Stoinis’ batting raising concerns, Cameron Green struggling to find his mojo, Alex Carrey a cautious starter, and Josh Inglis battling for his place in the side. 

Even in mounting 352 runs on the board in the third ODI, the middle order failed to cash in, with Maxwell, Green, Carey and Cummins adding 44 runs off 61 balls, however Marsh did acknowledge the fact that the ball was difficult to hit once it got softer. 

Over the eight matches against South Africa and India this month, Australia averaged 21.20 with a strike rate of 94.78 for positions five to eight. That comprises Marnus Labuschagne’s concussion sub contribution of an unbeaten 80 in Bloemfontein, Carey’s 99 in Centurion and Sean Abott’s quickfire fifty in Indore which came in  massive defeats 

Among other World Series nations that have played during September, only Pakistan and Sri average less from positions from Nos. 5-8, however Australia’s strike rate takes them fourth behind South Africa, Afghanistan and England.   

 

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