Qantas Tour of NZ 2018
Maxwell defends training regimen
Australia allrounder candidly admits work ethic 'really varied at times' but recent results are testament to an improved discipline
30 January 2018, 06:19 PM AEST
Glenn Maxwell points to his practice regimen prior to his two most recent Test campaigns as evidence that he has increased his training intensity in recognition that he might have 'faked his way' through nets sessions earlier in his international career.
In addressing Maxwell's surprise exclusion from Australia's initial squad for the recently completed Gillette ODI Series against England, captain Steve Smith pointedly observed that the gifted allrounder needed to "train a little bit smarter" in a bid to regain his place.
Smith and Maxwell, who have been regular opponents and teammates since their shared days at under-age level a decade or more ago, have since held several conversations to clear the air of what was said and what is expected within the Australia set-up.
But Maxwell acknowledges that Smith might have carried lingering suspicions about the consistency of commitment that the 29-year-old brought to limited-overs training sessions during the past three or four years.
A work ethic that Maxwell concedes "really varied at times" but which he has consciously addressed over the past 12 months, starting last February when he was part of Australia's Test outfit that was eyeing an historic series win in India.
"I thought my training was second to none over there, and probably the reason I was able to get back in the Test team when Mitch Marsh got injured and I was able to make the most of that opportunity," Maxwell told Melbourne radio station SEN's Gerard Whateley today.
"I've felt like since then, my work ethic has been solid and I've been able to work on specific parts of my game that are required for upcoming tours.
"I don't think it's any surprise that I've had the results that have followed this year and I'll continue to work on that."
Prior to that India tour, which saw Maxwell regain his place in Australia's Test XI and score a maiden Test century at Ranchi, he admits he would regularly avoid facing bowlers in the nets because he preferred to feel good about his batting by simply hitting a few balls in the middle of the bat.
And then leave the nets after a brief stint in order to "basically fake my way through form".
But after speaking with his Melbourne Stars coach in the KFC Big Bash League (and former New Zealand Test captain) Stephen Fleming as to how Maxwell was perceived by the outside cricket world, the allrounder markedly changed his approach upon arriving in India a year ago.
Australia's first training session for that four-Test series came on a steamy day at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium, where fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were primed for a flat-out bowling stint in the knowledge they would both be rested from the subsequent warm-up game.
The pair were armed with brand new balls, and Maxwell was the first to face them in a gruelling workout that was monitored by Bupa Support Team men's coach Darren Lehmann who positioned himself immediately behind the practice nets.
"That was probably a big turning point of him (Lehmann) going 'geez, he toughed that out' because then Matt Renshaw went in there and got absolutely peppered," Maxwell said today in citing that session as an example of his changed training philosophy.
"And leading into the Bangladesh tour (in August last year) was probably the hardest I'd ever trained.
"While the MOU discussions were going on and we were unemployed, as it was, I basically had three weeks when I was by myself in the MCG nets on the Pro-Batter (a training program that combines bowling machines with accompanying video images to replicate individual opposition bowlers).
"So I set it up to face left-arm off-spin which I knew I was going to get hounded with in Bangladesh, and I just worked on sweeping.
"I had bruises all over my body and repeated blows to the head, and unfortunately I probably didn't get the runs I would have liked in Bangladesh but I think there was a method to the madness.
"I was trying to teach myself how to play a sweep shot and move away from the reverse (sweep) and play a more conventional shot because teams these days have a person there (positioned to stop the reverse sweep) for me before I even walk out to bat."
Maxwell, who returned to Australia's ODI line-up for the final match in Perth last weekend as a replacement for injured opener Aaron Finch, also conceded that he squandered his talent at times in his earlier years and was "naïve" in his understanding of what it took to succeed at international level.
Chair of the Australia's National Selection Panel Trevor Hohns indicated earlier today that it was the view that Maxwell was not maximising his undoubted natural ability that resulted in his recent omission, given he has reached 50 just once in his past 10 ODI innings.
"Glenn, as I've said previously, is very important to us and he is a player of immense talent," Hohns said on Whateley's SEN program today.
"What we hate seeing, and what a lot of people probably hate seeing as well, is somebody waste that talent.
"Glenn's worked really hard on his game and he's done everything right over the last 12 months so there can be no issues with him at all, with us, at the moment."
If Maxwell is to be part of Australia's ICC World Cup defence in 2019, he is likely to know by the middle of this year when a squad is named for the Qantas Tour of England that contains five one-day games against the host nation scheduled from June 13.
Following Australia's 1-4 defeat to England in the recent Gillette Series, the reigning world champions have now slumped to fifth on the ICC rankings and Hohns has foreshadowed that the squad for the matches in England will likely form the basis for the World Cup campaign a year later.
Hohns acknowledged that Australia are not playing well in the 50-over format having won just two of their past 15 completed ODIs, which will require an assessment of the best players available in the one-day format and those capable of delivering a match strategy that will reverse recent results.
"We need to sit down and have a look at everything - not necessarily a review, we don't need to have a national inquiry every time we lose a series," Hohns said today.
"In our winter we go to England to play five one-dayers against England again, so we will be trying at that stage to get a unit together that can hopefully play together and stay together leading into the World Cup.
"Of course form will dictate what happens there (and) I think there's still 20 or more one-day games for us to play between now and then, so hopefully they can stick together and gel together as a unit and start to play well.
"We have the core, but we certainly need to do a bit of juggling or re-jigging here and there with personnel.
"We don't necessarily have to play the way other countries are playing – England are playing very well, they're a red-hot side.
"We'll have a look at the way they're playing, but try and develop our own style."
The notion that Australia should have an idea of what their 2019 World Cup squad should largely look like by the time this year's tour to England takes place met with agreement from Smith, who has reaffirmed his ambition to lead his country to next year's showpiece tournament.
"I think that makes sense, the World Cup is in England so any exposure to those conditions with the likely squad is important," Smith said today at the launch of venues and host cities for the ICC World T20 event that will be held as standalone competitions for women's and men's teams in Australia in 2020.
"A lot can happen in in a year with injuries and things like that, but for us it'll be about getting that squad as close to what we think the World Cup team is going to be."
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
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Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
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