England v Australia T20Is - Men's
Maxwell in the spotlight for Aussie post-mortem
Glenn Maxwell was accused of not playing 'smart cricket' but England enigma Kevin Pietersen leapt to his former BBL teammate's defence
5 September 2020, 02:19 PM AEST
England great Kevin Pietersen led a spirited of defence of his former Melbourne Stars teammate Glenn Maxwell, refusing to let the 31-year-old carry all the blame for Australia's loss in the opening T20 against England.
Maxwell was one of four Australian wickets to fall in just 14 balls in Southampton, part of a late batting collapse that handed England a nail-biting two-run win.
Playing his first international match since last November, Maxwell was caught at cover playing a firm drive off the bowling of Adil Rashid from his second ball, and the final delivery of the star leg-spinner's four-over spell.
Coming just three balls after Steve Smith was out for 18, Maxwell's dismissal at a pivotal point of the match led to him being singled out for criticism by former England captain, Nasser Hussain.
But Pietersen said all of Australia's batsmen needed to take responsibility for the loss and questioned why Maxwell is so often the player to cop the most criticism.
"I know (these conversations) happen around him," Pietersen told Sky Sports.
"I was in the dressing-room with him, I went to practice with him, I've sworn at him in a practice session and said … 'You need to start producing, you need to start winning games'.
"Maybe it's what's going to happen throughout his whole career. Maybe he's going to frustrate us because of how good he is.
"And yes, he's not a thinking cricketer in that instance, he's not.
"But he'll always put his hand up to be there when it counts. You saw that in the field, you saw that when he bowled.
"Is he just going to be one of those players that we discuss the whole time?
"Why not (David) Warner? Why wasn't it Warner's fault?
"Steve Smith is the kind of guy that finishes games off and he is the experience there. He's the level-headed player that we discussed, we all talked about, we all rave about.
"He should have finished that game off. He's the guy to finish that game off. Warner gets in, he's the guy to finish that game off.
"It's not Maxwell. I'm not having (blame for) Maxwell tonight. I'm having Maxwell on many occasions but not tonight."
From a position of strength at 0-98 chasing 163 to win, Australian wickets tumbled in the second half of their innings, starting with skipper Aaron Finch's dismissal for 46.
Finch was caught at mid-on trying to loft a ball over the infield, Smith was caught in the deep trying to sweep Rashid and Warner was bowled by Jofra Archer two balls after Maxwell's dismissal when he backed away and exposed his stumps.
"I pride myself in being there at the end but you can't help getting a good delivery," Warner said.
"That one delivery, we've got to try and get through and put to the boundary."
Hussain said Maxwell's dismissal to Rashid, just one ball before England's trump card was to finish his maximum of four overs, would have been particularly frustrating for coach Justin Langer.
"That shot from Glenn Maxwell … I know they haven't played for a while … but just use your brain," Hussain told Sky Sports. "Your brain doesn't switch off, surely.
"See him off, have both set batsmen in. Then Warner gets out at the other end and it's just a procession.
"You don't mind losing, but you do mind losing when you're not smart and that wasn't very smart cricket from Australia."
Skipper Aaron Finch refused to blame his middle order for the defeat, with he and Warner saying they should have helped finish the job having played themselves in with a 98-run opening partnership.
"We pride ourselves on being there at the end," Warner said.
"We talk about one batter being there and in and the next guys can come in, take those calculated risks and we bat until the end.
"But if you get a good delivery, you can't do anything about it.
"We've got to try and be a little bit smarter and work out how we're going to hit our boundaries (through the middle overs).
"That's the tough thing, you've got to keep rotating the strike but try and find the boundaries in those middle overs.
"You've got to work out the wicket as well during that middle period and when the ball gets older."
2020 Tour of England
Australia's T20 and ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England T20I squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood. Reserves: Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood. Reserves: Joe Denly, Saqib Mahmood