IPL stint to support Aussie Cup bid: Maxwell
Star allrounder explains why he missed Australia's limited-overs tours this year, while he also discussing his Test ambitions
16 September 2021, 02:22 PM AEST
Glenn Maxwell has detailed his rationale for returning to the Indian Premier League after opting out of Australia's recent white-ball tours to the West Indies and Bangladesh, and believes the move will help rather than hinder Australia's tilt to win their first T20 World Cup.
Maxwell is one of four Australia players – along with Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis and David Warner - who will suit up for the second half of the IPL (beginning in the UAE on Sunday) after the lucrative tournament was postponed in May due to India's COVID-19 situation.
The quartet was among a group of players who were unavailable for the national ODI and T20I tours in July and August.
While Smith missed due to an elbow injury, the other three asked not to be considered for selection with Maxwell confirming his decision was founded on the prospect of being confined to two additional months of strict bio-security measures ahead of a busy Australia summer.
"The thought of going into another hard bubble was just really hard for people," the Royal Challengers Bangalore recruit told cricket.com.au.
"Speaking to the guys that have just come back from Bangladesh and West Indies, they got the question put to them 'if you had another tour in three weeks what would you think?' and they understood why we took that time off.
"It's not easy going from hard bubble into a two-week quarantine, and then straight back into a hard bubble.
"That really takes its toll on some of the players."
Prior to leading the limited-overs squad to the Caribbean last June, Australia captain Aaron Finch claimed players who had chosen not to participate in those tours would find it "hard to justify" returning to the IPL when it resumed later in the year.
Finch subsequently walked back those comments upon his return to Australia, noting that he "probably didn't take into account the toll the full summer took on guys".
Maxwell, a Victoria teammate and former housemate of Finch's, noted his preparation for the T20 World Cup and upcoming summer had been thrown into disarray by COVID-19 restrictions at home and that players' involvement in the IPL was likely to benefit Australia's World Cup effort.
The 32-year-old had planned to begin his World Cup preparations with his KFC BBL outfit Melbourne Stars, who were scheduled to take part in NT Cricket's expanded T20 Strike League program last month.
But the deteriorating COVID situation in Australia prevented the Stars and Melbourne Renegades from taking up that opportunity and Maxwell decided - in consultation with Cricket Australia – his best preparation for the World Cup in the UAE and Oman would be a return to the IPL.
Maxwell believes the IPL-bound members of Australia's World Cup squad (which also includes paceman Josh Hazlewood and all-rounder Dan Christian who were part of the West Indies and Bangladesh series) will gain valuable experience in UAE conditions regardless of game time granted by respective franchises.
"Even if they're not playing (IPL matches), they're training with some of the best players in the world and getting used to it and hopefully we're able to hit the ground running in the World Cup," Maxwell said.
"I think it's a really good lead-in for the guys who are going to be over there.
"To be able to train in those facilities and acclimatise, it's going to be hot and to have that extra month there I think it will be valuable for those guys."
It's that early exposure plus the quality of personnel returning to Australia's World Cup squad that has Maxwell confident the team will not only overturn their disastrous recent form (four wins from 15 T20 internationals this year) but challenge for the sole major global trophy to have eluded them.
Having watched most of the West Indies campaign and all of the Bangladesh series (which he described as "brutal" given the bowler-friendly pitches prepared), Maxwell foresees the key to the upcoming World Cup will be early momentum that can be carried through the entire tournament.
"One hundred per cent we can win it," he said of the currently seventh-ranked team's World Cup ambitions.
"I think we've got a great squad, and we've got a lot of experience in there.
"If you can get one or two players that are running hot at the start of the tournament, it can be hard to stop.
"I certainly feel like we've got more than enough match winners in our side to do that."
It's not only Australia's push for their first men's T20 World Cup that will motivate Maxwell when the tournament begins next month.
Despite playing the most recent of his seven Tests to date in India in 2017, and having not made a first-class appearance since the start of the 2019-20 summer with Victoria, the allrounder retains hope of once again donning the Baggy Green.
Maxwell acknowledges it will be difficult to push his red-ball case this summer given the Marsh Sheffield Shield schedule remains unclear due to the pandemic, but is confident that consistent showing in white-ball formats for Australia will support his cause.
And while an Ashes berth against England in coming months is a pipe dream, he is eyeing Australia's subsequent offshore Test assignments – against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India according to the ICC's most recent Future Tours Program – given all his Test outings to date have come in Asia or the UAE.
Maxwell confirmed he has spoken with the national selectors, a group now chaired by George Bailey following Trevor Hohns' retirement, and reaffirmed his desire to be considered for Test consideration in the future.
"It's going to be hard to get any red-ball cricket (this summer), but I've said before when switching between formats that if you're going well for your country, you can be the right man for the job," Maxwell said.
"I'm still looking at those subcontinent tours next year to be a real possibility.
"They (selectors) have asked me what Shield cricket would do, if I was to play in those subcontinent tours.
"There is obviously a stage where you need to knuckle down in red-ball cricket and bat for a longer period of time, and that's just a mindset thing.
"I feel like I've got the game to adapt to that these days.
"When you get a bit older, you start to know your game a little bit better and understand what the team needs.
"I feel like I'm in a really good place at the moment with my game and I feel like it'd be an easier transition these days.
"There's going to be opportunities that open up at different stages and I've just got to make sure that I'm playing well in whatever format to put my hand up and be ready."
However, Maxwell has ruled out any immediate thoughts of scaling back his limited-overs commitments in order to maximise first-class opportunities that might further fuel his Test aspirations.
As an integral part of Australia's white-ball plans, he remains focused on the back-to-back T20 World Cups – this year's event in the UAE and Oman followed by the rescheduled tournament in Australia a year later – and then the 2023 ICC One-Day World Cup in India.
"I don't think you make a decision like that with such big tournaments around the corner," Maxwell said of any thoughts of imminently shifting his priority to red-ball cricket.
"It's a great thought in theory, but I don't think that would be doing the right thing by anyone.
"Yes, it'd be great to play Test cricket but the best thing for Australian cricket at the moment is me being in a really good space to try and win this World Cup.
"If I'm going well enough, hopefully I'll be selected for the next World Cup and hopefully, if I play my role in that team, we can have plenty of success.
"It's hard to knock back a format when there's some World Cups on the line."