Glenn Maxwell is nothing if not a straight-shooter, with bat or mic in hand. The big-hitting allrounder whose game seems tailor-made for white-ball cricket has never hidden his red-ball aspirations. But even though he’s never nailed down a Test spot, in the past year, Maxwell also lost his One-Day International place. He earned a recall to the ODI side for the three-match series against New Zealand starting on Sunday (December 4) in Sydney, and in an interaction with mediapersons on Thursday, he spoke candidly of his frustration with batting lower down the order than Matthew Wade in the Victoria side, the changes he had made to his game, and his aim of getting a Test recall for Australia’s four-Test series in India in February-March 2017. Excerpts.
Good to be back in the Australian side?
Very good to be back. Very happy to be back in the coloured clothing and playing some one-day cricket for Australia. Hopefully I get an opportunity to play the next three games and hopefully hit the ball really well and bowl really well. Just play my role for the team.
Was it a difficult period to go a couple of tours without playing in the one-day side when you’ve been such a staple in the team?
Yeah, it was difficult to watch, I suppose. But at the same time, it was quite refreshing to go back and work on my game in Victoria and have that bit of time to myself – away from media, away from coaches – and be able to develop my game and get to a stage where I feel really good about it. At the moment, I feel like I’m moving and striking the ball really well, and it’s a good time to be recalled.
Did you make any changes during that time?
Yeah, I changed a few things slightly technically and slightly mentally as well. More so the way I look at the game, the way I start my innings. That’s going to be a big change I suppose, heading into this one-day series – about starting my innings and making sure I get into the game and not sort of throw it away too early. That’s probably one thing I changed most of all.
Are we going to witness Glenn Maxwell playing in the ‘V’ for the first few overs?
It’s not like I haven’t tried to play in the ‘V’. I think if you look back at the innings against England in Headingley, I hit about four or five on-drives to get my innings going. So it’s not like I don’t hit through the ‘V’. It just depends on the game, the situation and who I’m facing. If it’s a spinner, it’s obviously going to be different. I’ve always said I try and play the fields, the conditions and the opposition.
On his Test ambitions: “With Australia playing so well in the last Test against South Africa, there’s probably not going to be a whole heap of changes coming up, so I’m looking probably more to the India series now, having probably missed the boat for the Australian home summer. Whether that comes from white-ball cricket or any sort of cricket that I’m playing, whether they watch me playing at Fitzroy-Doncaster or club cricket doesn’t matter. I’m just going be trying to make as many runs and take as many wickets, and show them the different improvements I’ve made in my batting and bowling.”
Which position will you play?
Well it depends on the situation wherever you’re playing so only time will tell where I’m playing and at what position. Obviously there’s going to be a change of getting myself into the innings. But the way I start innings, I’ve changed my look on that. I’ve changed my defensive technique a little bit as well.
There are four or five allrounders in this team. With the competition for those spots you might not get to play all three games.
Yeah, well, Australia have been pretty traditional in their one-day stuff where they’ve had a lot of allrounders in the group. Over the last few years, we’ve had (James) Faulkner, (Mitchell) Marsh, (Shane) Watson and myself, basically juggled around the order. So there will be a bit of competition I suppose. I think it’s healthy in a team to have that sort of competition. Probably even Aaron Finch is up to being an allrounder these days. But yeah, I think that sort of healthy competition is good to have in the group. Hopefully the new guys in the squad can sort of bring that energy into training as well.
Almost a year back you scored that 100 in the World Cup in Sydney. Could be a good start to the series?
Yeah, I think that was my last one-dayer here after being injured for last year’s one-dayer. So good memories here. If I do get a chance out there to bat a long period of time, hopefully I can repeat that great day. [Maxwell in fact played in Sydney shortly after smashing 102 off 53 balls against Sri Lanka in a league match of the 2015 World Cup. He made 23 off 14 against India in the semifinal, coming in at 197 for 2 in 34.1 overs. He missed the January 2016 bilateral match against India with an injury, the last ODI at SCG.]
Being picked for the ODI side is now a bit of a double-edged sword for your Test ambitions, since you’ll miss a couple of Shield games ….
I’m missing a pink-ball Shield game in Hobart, but it’s not the biggest miss in the world. I think if it was a Shield game here (in Sydney) in spinning conditions, it would be more worth it for my ambition to play the Test series against India. With Australia playing so well in the last Test (against South Africa), there’s probably not going to be a whole heap of changes coming up so I’m looking probably more to the India series now, having probably missed the boat for the Australian home summer. With the way selections have gone, I’m probably going to be looking at the Indian Test series and really focusing on that. Whether that comes from white-ball cricket or any sort of cricket that I’m playing, whether they watch me playing at Fitzroy-Doncaster or club cricket doesn’t matter. I’m just going be trying to make as many runs and take as many wickets, and show them the different improvements I’ve made in my batting and bowling.
Did you think you were in contention for the Adelaide Test against South Africa when they changed the squad? They were going for a No.6 batsman who can take the game away from the opposition.
I thought there might have been a chance. I felt like the way I batted in my first game back at the MCG, and faced the reverse swinging ball against Queensland, I thought that was a really good sign of the improvements I’ve made in my defence, my technique, and in the way I leave the ball. I know one score probably doesn’t show it enough, but I thought with a good record backing me as well… to not get picked was a little bit disappointing. But as I said there’s plenty of Tests on the radar. They’ve made it quite clear the direction they’re going to try and go and they picked an absolute gem in Pete Handscomb and he played beautifully. Unfortunately for Maddo (Nic Maddinson), he came out at probably the toughest time to bat which was against (Kagiso) Rabada bowling at 145 and above under lights and swinging the ball.
Have you been bothered by it earlier when you haven’t batted up the order for Victoria when they’re at full strength?
Yeah that’s probably a bit painful at times. Batting below the wicketkeeper is a little bit painful as well. I think the wicketkeeper should be batting at No.7 unless you’ve got, you’re trying to squeeze in an extra bowler. I’ve been just trying to bat wherever I can and trying to make as many runs as I can. I think I’ve got a 100 from No.8 for Victoria so there’s always opportunities to get runs wherever you are in the order but the way the Vics have been going, you’re generally coming in trying to set a total up or trying to win the game with not many runs to get. I suppose that’s the advantage of playing such a strong side that’s been dominating the Shield competition for the last two and half years. That’s first-world problems almost.
Is there any reason why Matthew Wade did that?
I think because he’s captain and he chooses the batting order. That’s my view on it.
On batting lower down the order for Victoria: “Matthew Wade is captain and he chooses the batting order … It’s a bit painful at times. Batting below the wicketkeeper (Wade) is a little bit painful as well. I’ve been just trying to bat wherever I can and trying to make as many runs as I can. I think I’ve got a 100 from No.8 for Victoria so there’s always opportunities to get runs wherever you are in the order but the way the Vics have been going, you’re generally coming in trying to set a total up or trying to win the game with not many runs to get. That’s first-world problems almost.”
When that Hobart Test got over and it was clear they were going to make changes, what were you thinking? Have you had communication with the selectors, telling you what they’re looking for?
No communication, it’s all in my head. We get reports after every series about things they want us to work on and things at which we are good or bad and that sort of stuff. You take care of that and you go away and work on it. Over the last few years, I’ve looked at reports and to finally have that time away from the squad, I was able to actually go away and work on it and do it away from the public eye as well, which was nice. I could go back and see some old faces which have helped me along the way and are away from that high level of coaching as well. It’s been nice to go back and see them and get a different point of view on the game.
As a player, you’re obviously thinking, a couple of runs here and there might be a chance. But I also started to think does that mean two-three years of really good work is out the window if I fail this game? Are they going to forget about all the hard work I’ve put in to have such a good first-class record and be consistent for a long period of time despite coming in and out of form, left, right and centre in three games a year in between one-day tournaments? So I think to have the first-class record I do, I’ve been very lucky, but at the same time, every time Victoria went out there to play, it was all about the team. Everything I did in that game was trying to make sure we won that game. Even the second innings, going out there, getting told team up, there was no way I was going for a ‘not out’. I know there are a lot of cricketers that would have just poked around and tried to get the not out. That’s not the way I play. [Maxwell has 1792 runs at 41.67 in first-class matches since 2013. Before Australia’s selectors picked a team for the Adelaide Test against South Africa, Maxwell played for Victoria against New South Wales and made 3 in the second innings while the side was aiming for quick runs for a declaration]
The New Zealand attack have Tim Southee, Trent Boult and some new faces. Have you played against any of them ever?
I think I played an Emerging Players tournament against (Colin) de Grandhomme. He was more of a batter back then and then I turned on the TV and he’s got this big moustache and he’s bowling quick. He’s not quite the bloke I remember, but I watch enough cricket to know what these guys do.