Glenn Maxwell conceded after the latest round of Sheffield Shield matches that he might have “thrown away” a chance to make his case for the No. 6 spot in Australia’s squad for the upcoming Ashes series against England.
Maxwell, promoted to No. 3, had scores of 64 and 60 in Victoria’s draw with South Australia at the MCG, but was kicking himself for failing to turn one of his twin fifties into a big score.
“There is lots of speculation about that No. 6 position and what’s going to happen for that first Ashes Test. I probably threw away two good chances to make hundreds and push my case forward,” he told Melbourne’s SEN radio on Wednesday (November 8), adding, “But I probably also threw away an opportunity to win us the game as well. I’m disappointed I couldn’t do more for the Vics this last game.”
Maxwell made a mature hundred from No. 6 on his comeback to the Test side, against India in Ranchi earlier this year. In three Tests since then, however, he has not crossed 50 and the selectors have made it clear that he wasn’t an automatic selection for the Ashes.
Hilton Cartwright, Shaun Marsh, Moises Henriques and Marcus Stoinis are all among the contenders, while Jake Lehmann threw his hat in the ring with scores of 103 and 93 for South Australia against Victoria.
“I think (the selectors) made it pretty clear that they wanted the top six batters in the country and I want to put my hand up and be one of them. I feel like I’m starting ahead of the pack because I played the last Test and I think I was undefeated (25 not out against Bangladesh). Even if it was in a different country, I feel like I batted quite well and I showed some really good signs.”
Speaking to reporters in Melbourne later, Maxwell, however, wasn’t giving up hope. “I think (the selectors) made it pretty clear that they wanted the top six batters in the country and I want to put my hand up and be one of them,” he said. “I feel like I’m starting ahead of the pack because I played the last Test and I think I was undefeated (25 not out against Bangladesh). Even if it was in a different country, I feel like I batted quite well and I showed some really good signs.”
Shane Warne, speaking to Sky Sports, had described Maxwell as “the X-factor at No. 6”. “He’s tightened his technique up a little bit and can really get hold of you,” Warne had said.
Maxwell, though, no longer wanted that tag. “I’m not talking about the word ‘X-factor’ again,” he said. “I have the ability to score quickly at stages, but I think the way I’ve been playing recently, I’ve been more concentrating on just playing good cricket shots and making sure that I’m there for a longer period of time.”
He also explained on radio how being able to watch himself on the large screen at the MCG helped his technique. “I looked up a couple of times and saw the replay. There were a couple of times where I didn’t like what I saw, so I tinkered with a few things during the first innings and was able to change a few things on the go, which was helpful, and I was able to tighten up my defence a little bit more.
“I found I was getting ahead of myself with my hands a little bit, so I just brought them a tiny bit back and held back a little bit.
“In the second innings, the ball was keeping a little bit lower, so I tried to stay a tiny bit lower and it changed again. It’s a constant work in progress.
“It’s hard for me to have the same technique in every condition that we face. I don’t have the long stride into the ball like other players, I like to keep my feet nice and relaxed and play with my hand eye coordination, which is my strength. I make sure I can access the ball the best I can from that.”
With another round of Shield matches taking place ahead of the first Ashes Test, which starts on November 23, Maxwell said his focus was on shutting out the distractions and performing for Victoria. “You have to find a way to shut it all out. While you’re copping a barrage of short balls from around the wicket, it’s hard to not concentrate on the ball coming towards you. So it’s about staying in the moment,” he said.