World Cup hopeful Glenn Maxwell insists he is not wasted in the lower order in Australia's one-day international side but hopes the team can adopt the same fearless attitude that helped it stride to the 2015 title.
Maxwell's position in the batting order remains a point of debate, for he has the skills to be in the top order but consistency has been an issue. In his past 10 ODI innings, he has been used at No.6 or No.7, having last batted at No.4 against India in Indore in 2017.
Glenn Maxwell says he didn’t bed down a role towards the top of the Australian order when he had the chance.Credit:AAP
He averages 32.31 in 90 matches but that slips to 22.16 in six matches at No.4. His lone century and highest-yielding spot in terms of overall runs has been at No.5, where he averages 33.7, but it's at No.7 where he averages 45.33 in 10 innings at a strike rate of 125.92.
Lower-order hitting will be critical on the small grounds of England during the World Cup, and Maxwell reinforced during his thundering 82 from 43 balls for the Melbourne Stars on Sunday why there could be a few lost balls should he get going.
The Victorian said he had not done enough when the situation presented itself to forge a spot at No.4 – a role Steve Smith is likely to reclaim should he be fit and selected for the World Cup.
"Look, the way we are setting up, I don't think I am wasted. The way we were trying to set up our team was pretty valid. I hadn't done enough to warrant a place in that top four or five," he said.
"I missed my opportunities. That came down to me as a player. I genuinely missed opportunities to play well for my country and play well for my spot. They gave me opportunities to bat second drop in practice games before the … England ODI series [in 2018] but I, unfortunately, didn't make the most of it and I found myself back down the order. That can be how the game goes sometimes."
Maxwell will join the Australian side through one-day series tours of India this month and against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates next month but says he is no lock for World Cup selection, having been an important piece of the 2015 title. In six World Cup innings on home soil, he crunched 324 runs at 64.8, passing 50 three times, including his lone ODI century – against Sri Lanka in Sydney. Through that tournament he was used at No.4, 5 and 6. The public discourse from Cricket Australia heading into this next showpiece event is that he will have a floating role.
"I played a similiar role at the World Cup and was able to be flexible because of the success of the top order and the way they scored their runs," Maxwell said.
"It's all well and good getting hundreds off 100 balls but the way our top order was going back in the World Cup, they were getting fast hundreds, they were explosive starters, we were ahead of six runs an over, we were 6.5 runs an over after 25 overs and we had the freedom to go: 'You know what, we can make this a cruisy win or a cruisy last 15 overs by sending 'Maxi' in and continue that or we can consolidate with different batters and make sure we can get a certain total'.
"We always played an aggressive route back then. I suppose that played into my hands by having a successful top order which is what we had back then."
A brilliant, match-turning fieldsman, Maxwell's off-spin bowling will also be important in England, for it would allow Australia to play to their strengths, that being three frontline quicks, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, a frontline leg-spinner in Adam Zampa – wrist spin shapes as being a crucial element – with Maxwell a sixth option.
Former skipper Ricky Ponting has made it clear he believes the return of batting stars Smith and David Warner from suspension could transform a side that has won only three of its past 16 matches.
That has heaped pressure on the pair to quickly regain their groove but Maxwell, Australia's Twenty20 international player of the year though still something of an enigma, maintains a team ethos of having the freedom to play "smart" cricket will be pivotal in Australia's championship defence.
"I think this team is going to need to take the game on, not so much take the game on but take it on in the way that it is cricket smart. It is good cricket shots still but it's a way of dominating the opposition. It's a solid way of playing one-day cricket," he said.
"The way we went about one-day cricket in 2015, it was just solid the whole way through. There was consistency, there was big risk but they didn't feel like risks when they were happening.
"There was Aaron Finch charging opening bowlers, hitting them over the top and you thought that was not a risk for Aaron Finch. David Warner hitting the ball over cover point for four – that's not a risk. Steve Smith hitting the ball from outside off through forward square leg – that's not a risk. That's just how the players were playing. Shane Watson muscling blokes wherever he wanted to and myself doing my thing. The way the whole team set itself up was guys just played their way and played with freedom. I think if we are going to win this World Cup, we need to be able to play with freedom and be able to express that.
"Hopefully, the bowlers can back us up the way they did in 2015. Mitchell Starc was an amazing exponent of that. I think he had 20 wickets or something like that and was instrumental in us winning. It's going to take both sides of it working together. Let's hope it does. It would be nice to be back-to-back World Cup winners, that's for sure."
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