Australia champion Ponting labels Maxwell ‘a class act’ and says he should be on the plane to take on the world’s No.1 Test side
Former captain Ricky Ponting has called for Glenn Maxwell to be selected for Australia’s tour of India and believes the supremely talented allrounder is a “useful” option with the ball. Australia’s four-Test series against the world’s No.1-ranked side starts in Pune on February 23, with the visiting side having last won a Test series in 2004.
Slow bowlers Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe and Jon Holland will all be in contention for a spot in the squad, but Australia will need some part-time options on turning tracks that have proven to be a haven for spinners.Maxwell has played three Tests, his last appearance coming in November 2014, and has not donned national colours since Australia’s Twenty20 fixture against Sri Lanka in September. The 28-year-old has been in the headlines after being fined an undisclosed amount by his Australian ODI teammates earlier this month after questioning Victoria captain Matthew Wade’s decision to bat himself above Maxwell in the Bushrangers’ batting order. Maxwell was selected in the squad for Australia’s three-match Chappell-Hadlee Trophy ODI series against New Zealand but failed to break into the XI as the home team powered to a 3-0 triumph.
“I would take him in the squad, definitely,” Ponting said on Channel Ten during the Melbourne Stars’ KFC Big Bash League fixture against Hobart Hurricanes. “You need a batting spin bowler. There’ll be other names mentioned, too, like Ashton Agar, I think his name will certainly come up. “I think (Maxwell’s bowling) is quite good, it’s quite consistent. He’s not an out-and-out Test first-choice spin bowler, but he is useful. Moeen Ali has developed into quite a good spinner now having played a couple of years for England.”
While Maxwell is a matchwinner with the bat in the shorter formats – he boasts a strike rate well beyond 100 in international Twenty20 and ODI matches – he has also been a strong performer for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield. Maxwell has experienced a lean summer so far with 129 runs at 25.8, but he hit 392 runs from nine innings at 56 in 2015-16. And his overall first-class average of 39.92 from 46 matches demonstrates he has the ability to build an innings and convert starts into big scores, underlined by five tons and 17 half-centuries. Maxwell has 62 wickets for Australia from 103 appearances in ODIs and Twenty20 matches with a best of 4-46. His three Test appearances have garnered seven victims at 38.71 apiece. Maxwell insisted he had moved on from his comments about Wade earlier this month, declaring the issue “all done and dusted now”. He played a key role in the Stars’ win over the Hurricanes, hammering an unbeaten 58 to go with figures of 1-12 and the vital wicket of former Sri Lanka champion Kumar Sangakkara.
“He’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons,” Ponting said. “It’s been an indifferent couple of months for him. Hasn’t played a lot of cricket either but what I know about this guy is he is one of the very, very best T20 players in the world, be that with the bat or his off-spin or out in the field. He is a class act.” Former allrounder Andrew Symonds said Maxwell needed “strong characters around him” and urged the aggressive batsman to “get his head down”. “He needs to make up his mind what he’s doing,” Symonds said. “I don’t know the man very well at all, but having the right people around you at a difficult time is key, so you’re getting the right advice.
“Sometimes the freest I felt was when I was actually playing cricket. Sometimes that’s the only (sanctuary) you can get.” Maxwell’s Stars will next tackle Melbourne Renegades on January 1, while he will be in line for a spot in Australia’s ODI squad for next month’s five-match series against Pakistan.