Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc return as Australia seek to clinch tri-series final berth
Australian skipper Steven Smith is hopeful that Maxwell can get his act together and return to his destructive ways sooner rather than later
Australia named their 12-man squad for Sunday’s clash against South Africa in Barbados with Glenn Maxwell making a return after being axed for the previous two ODIs while fast bowler Mitchell Starc has also been included following a ‘rest’. Travis Head and Nathan Courter-Nile are the players making way with the final eleven to be decided just prior to the toss.
The Australian team management had finally run out of patience with Maxwell, who has been an ever-present in the Australian ODI team since November 2014, after the all-rounder carried forward his indifferent form in the T20 format to the 50-over game as well. The 27-year-old, who scored 0 and 3 in Australia’s two opening fixtures at Guyana, has in fact failed to go beyond the single-digit mark in ay of his five previous ODIs.
While many has questioned Maxwell’s attitude to the game, suggesting that the right-hander’s failure to assume responsibility with the bat was similar to Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, who started out with quite a few destructive knocks before finishing off more as a bowler rather than with the willow, Australian skipper Steven Smith is hopeful that Maxwell will take the recent axing in the right spirit and make necessary modifications to his game.
"We know what we want from him, it's a bit more consistency and that's what the selectors have told him. He gets an opportunity and hopefully he'll make the most of that,” Smith said. "I had a word with him the other day just about clearing his mind and going out there and just playing good cricket shots. I think we've seen when Maxi (Maxwell) is at his best... he's actually not thinking too much, so it was just reinforcing those messages.”
Smith believes that Maxwell has already made the necessary changes and is banking on the enigmatic cricketer to come good for Australia for the remainder of the ongoing tri-series.
“I think he was pretty disappointed initially (about being axed after two matches)," Smith said. "It took him a while to get used to the idea he wasn't playing. But I think the last week or last couple of days he's turned his head around, he's worked very hard on his game in the nets and done a few things in the gym to try to improve as a cricketer. I guess that's what it's about, trying to do everything you can to get back into the team.
“I watched him bat pretty closely in the nets yesterday and I thought he played particularly well, especially against the fast bowlers. So hopefully he's continuing to learn and hopefully he'll get amongst the runs in the next couple of games," he said.
Smith offered his sympathy to young Travis Head, the 22-year-old all-rounder who had an unremarkable ODI debut against the West Indies after going wicketless and scoring just 1 run but believes he has done the right job by picking the best squad possible for Sunday’s match.
"It's obviously disappointing for Travis, he didn't get a great opportunity the other day. He's disappointed to miss out, as he should be. But we believe this is the best team for tomorrow, the most experienced team and Maxi's going to get another opportunity and hopefully he can make the most of it," he said.
Australia’s 12-man squad:
Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (c), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Adam Zampa