Australia's Glenn Maxwell plays a shot  in Ranchi
Australia's Glenn Maxwell plays a shot in Ranchi Aijaz Rahi

Maxwell may not get chance to push Ashes cause

SELECTORS are facing an interesting conundrum involving Glenn Maxwell, with growing doubt over whether Australia's tour of Bangladesh will involve Test matches.

As it stands no aspect of the Bangladesh assignment which was meant to be built around a two-Test series scheduled for August is locked in, with every chance the matches will be all limited overs affairs and moved to a later timeslot in the calendar to lead up directly to Australia's October ODI campaign in India.

August is a wet season in Bangladesh and there are concerns that if Tests were marked down for then they might be complete washouts. The International Cricket Council won't intervene and blank out the period and say it's up to Bangladesh and Australia to sort out.

Taking on rising force Bangladesh after going so close in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy would be a great challenge for Steve Smith's men, but although nothing is set in stone, it's looking increasingly likely that Australia's next big Test series will be the summer Ashes.

There's plenty of water to pass under the bridge between now and then but one of most interesting debates leading into the bumper England series will be what to do with Glenn Maxwell?

 

Australia's Glenn Maxwell raises his bat and helmet to celebrate scoring a century in Ranchi
Australia's Glenn Maxwell raises his bat and helmet to celebrate scoring a century in Ranchi Aijaz Rahi

The clean-hitting star has been one of the great finds in India, with his breakout hundred in Ranchi and solid second innings in Dharamsala exhibiting the class, maturity and game sense that Maxwell has always promised but not always delivered.

Maxwell would be a walk-up for Tests in Bangladesh, but if they don't eventuate he will be stripped of key opportunities to further press his claim before the Ashes.

The puzzle for selectors is that in Australia they traditionally like a seam bowling all-rounder at No. 6 who can contribute bulk overs and as brilliant as Maxwell has been in India, even in this series, on tracks that take spin, his bowling was only used as a last resort.

At the moment an Ashes top five of Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb could be tough to shake.

Maxwell's best hope might be to knock down the door and get picked as a top five batsman or reap the benefits of Australia unleashing a four-pronged pace attack, which could allow him to nestle in nicely at No. 6 with his part-time spin.

Otherwise he is relying on his game-changing abilities being enough to convince selectors to change their philosophy on all-rounders at home.

Coach Darren Lehmann praised Maxwell's breakout performance but going forward he confirmed the 28-year-old is viewed more as a batsman than all-rounder.

"In the top six you still want to make it as a batsman," said Lehmann.

"Obviously Mitch Marsh is more of a bowling option and Glenn more the batting option.

"I'm pleased for him to get the hundred and the challenge now is obviously for him to keep his spot and play well."

 

Australia's captain Steven Smith, right, watches teammate Glenn Maxwell celebrate scoring a century
Australia's captain Steven Smith, right, watches teammate Glenn Maxwell celebrate scoring a century Aijaz Rahi

Maxwell showed in the space of two Test matches that he can bring plenty to the table.

Australia has had an issue in recent years with batsmen who aren't great catchers or fieldsmen - but Maxwell brings a dynamic and intimidating edge to work in the field.

On the final day in Dharamsala he was stalking the square like a panther and twice threw down the middle stump - once to effect a run-out, the other time just after the batsman had made his ground.

In Ranchi it was Maxwell's athletic chase and dive to the fence that saved one and put Virat Kohli on strike to be blasted out by Pat Cummins on the very next ball.

Maxwell has found it hard to shake off his 'Big Show' persona, but in his batting innings he put his shots away for long periods and exhibited patience and concentration.

Like David Warner and Steve Smith, Maxwell is a man who can change a game.

However, the Test summer just gone showed why an Australian side will always look off-balance at home without a fifth bowling option.

It pushes bowlers to breaking point.

Should the two Tests in Bangladesh fall by the wayside it would be a blow for the developing cricket nation after Australia's 2015 tour there was cancelled due to a terrorist threat.

News Corp Australia


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