Sri Lanka v Australia Tests - Men
Maxwell sheds relics as he prepares for Test rebirth
Glenn Maxwell is riding high on a wave of support from in and outside the Australian squad as he prepares to return to the Test arena ... but he will need a brand new Baggy Green
Louis Cameron in Galle
25 June 2022, 01:50 PM AEST
It doesn't require a degree in literature to see the metaphor that was the decaying and sodden Baggy Green that lay dormant in the closet of Glenn Maxwell's spare bedroom in suburban Melbourne for the best part of five years.
It was not until Travis Head's hamstring injury this week, which has put him in doubt for next week's Test series opener against Sri Lanka, that Maxwell truly thought his treasured Baggy Green might once again be required for use.
A possibility he believed had passed him by when he was left out of Australia's first post-sandpaper Test tour in the UAE in 2018, he revealed to reporters in Colombo on Friday evening.
At least when his wife Vini this week inspected the condition of the headwear last worn in the Bangladesh jungle outpost of Chittagong (now Chattogram) where he played in his only Test victory in 2017, the bad news she had to relay was never going to dampen the elation the thought of a Test return has brought him.
"She got it out of the bag and it had completely fallen apart," Maxwell said of the Baggy Green that had been doused in celebratory fluids and then left untouched in its neat accompanying carry bag for years.
"So I'm going to need a new one over here.
"It's happened to a few of the boys. Unfortunately when it goes in the bag and it's wet, it doesn't dry that well when you leave it in the bag … It's absolutely destroyed.
"I'm probably going to have to put it in a glass case and leave it there I reckon. I'll see if I can get it fixed when I get home but at the moment, it's probably a bit too late for that."
Much like the hat fraying at the seams and riddled with holes both in its top and peak, Maxwell's red-ball career looked to have moved into the realm of historical artefact.
Despite his limited-overs abilities becoming the match of any player in the world, the 33-year-old had resigned himself to the likelihood he would never add to his seven Tests which have all come on the subcontinent.
A breakthrough century against India in Ranchi in 2017 that he considers one of his most memorable personal achievements was soon forgotten when he was dropped four Tests later for Shaun Marsh at the start of the 2017-18 Ashes series.
After then missing selection for Australia's Test series against Pakistan, Justin Langer's first as coach, in September 2018 as well as a preceding A series in India featuring two first-class fixtures, Maxwell now admits he was all-but convinced he was no longer in contention for the Test side.
"I thought that might have been it," he said. "I just felt like I was there and thereabouts, and forgotten about.
"Five years ago when I played my last Test, I felt like I was in career-best form and to not play another Test immediately after that, I thought maybe I'd missed my opportunity without doing too much wrong."
Although incumbent No.5 Head has not yet been ruled out and other squad members like Mitch Marsh could also contend to replace him, Maxwell struggled to contain his excitement as he spoke on the outfield of the R.Premadasa Stadium following a feel-good fifth ODI.
Mostly, he said, that stems from the support fellow players and the current coaching staff have given him and which he believes has helped eliminate the "fear factor" of being seen to have gotten out in an undesirable manner or to make a mistake others not blessed with his talent fail to understand.
It also partly comes from the support he has felt from the wider cricket public.
"To have the whole cricket fraternity, it actually feels like they're really on my side to play Test cricket, whereas you go back 4-5 years, it was probably the opposite," said Maxwell.
"It's been a nice shift in mood and change in the way people see me as a player, and that's really heart-warming as well."
Maxwell, regarded as a strong batter against spin bowling which is expected to be Sri Lanka's main method of attack on turning surfaces for the two Tests, also acknowledges that he has grown as a player since he last pulled on the whites for Australia.
And not just as a batter as he credits Australia assistant coach Sridharan Sriram with helping to improving his off-spin bowling which complements the visitors' attack in Galle.
His confidence has reached the point where he insists nerves seldom affect his thinking when he bats, a trend he does not expect to change if he gets the nod on Wednesday despite having not played a first-class game in two years and nine months, let alone a Test match.
"I'm just putting less pressure on myself full-stop," he said. "I think I've gone through those stages where I beat myself up for a shot that might be seen as indifferent or a dismissal that people don't agree with.
"I think I've just got past that stage.
"I know what I'm trying to do. I know what the team wants me to do. I know what the team expects me to do.
"I know that if I just go out there and have that mindset nothing else really matters.
"The team's got my back. I've got a great set of teammates.
"I'm so glad I get to stick around with them and help them win this Test series and to have that backing in the changeroom all-round is something that's really been special.
"I think over the last couple of years, it's been really obvious from inside the changeroom that support that we give each other. You won't hear a bad word (said) about each other.
"It's just been nice to have that consistent support from everyone."
Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka, 2022
Sri Lanka Test squad (provisional): Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kamil Mishara, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamika Karunaratne, Ramesh Mendis, Mohamed Shiraz, Shiran Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lakshitha Rasanjana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suminda Lakshan
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
June 29 - July 3: First Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST
July 8-12: Second Test, Galle, 2.30pm AEST
All Sri Lanka v Australia international fixtures will be screened live on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports
Australia A fixtures
Australia A squad: Scott Boland, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Nathan McAndrew, Todd Murphy, Jimmy Peirson, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee
Sri Lanka A one-day squad: Dhananjaya de Silva (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Udara, Lasith Croospulle, Oshada Fernando, Pabasara Waduge, Kamindu Mendis, Ashen Bandara, Janitha Liyanage, Sahan Arachchi, Pulina Tharanga, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Shiran Fernando (will not play due to injury), Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan, Nishan Madushka, Ashen Daniel,Nisala Tharaka
June 8: Australia A won by seven wickets
June 10: Sri Lanka A won by four wickets
June 14-17: Australia A won by 68 runs
June 21-24: Australia A won by five wickets