Ranchi: Glenn Maxwell has set himself the ambitious goal of following in Steve Smith’s footsteps and making the transformation from spin bowler to bona fide Test batting dynamo.
The mercurial all-rounder resurrected his international career by posting his maiden Test century on Friday and has left selectors with a major dilemma heading into next summer’s Ashes.
Having started the season at the crossroads, Maxwell has now emerged as a potential magic pill to cure ‘s long headache at no.6.
One of the most talented players in the n system, Maxwell has promised at times to become a game breaker but potential has outweighed performance throughout his 114-game international career.
Pigeon-holed as a limited-overs specialist, Maxwell now has strong claims to be ‘s next long-term Test No.6 – but it will need a shift in philosophy from selectors.
The n brains trust is craving a batsman who can provide valuable overs to take the load off the frontline quicks. Their first preference has been for a seam-bowling all-rounder – hence the heavy investment into Mitchell Marsh – but options are now limited.
Marsh is facing a long stint on the sidelines as he recovers from a shoulder injury while Moises Henriques and James Faulkner are both out of favour at Test level.
“I wasn’t that good a spinner when I first played for . I made the most of an opportunity when I bowled OK that first Test and a little bit the second Test as well,” Maxwell said after batting for more than four hours for his 104.
“I’ll try and keep both sides of my game as much as I can. The way Steve’s game has gone and with the captaincy he’s solely focused on being a batsman in the team.
“But if I’m going to be playing the role that I play this Test at no.6 I have to be giving something else in the team.
“You can’t get by being a fielder and a batsman, you need the extra string to your bow when you’re at No.6.”
Maxwell struggled to hide his emotions upon reaching triple figures. Thoughts raced through his mind when he slept on 82 in his first appearance in the baggy green since being axed after the tour of the Middle East in late 2014.
“I went through about 300 to 400 different scenarios that could’ve happened the next day, most of them weren’t good,” Maxwell said.
“So much emotion fell out of me as soon as I got that hundred. Even thinking about it now I’ve got a frog in my throat. It’s as special a moment as I’ve had in my career and hopefully it’s not the last.”
It has been a turbulent 12 months for the World Cup winner, who missed two one-day international tours, was dumped from Victoria’s Shield team and fell foul of Smith and ‘s leadership group for his controversial comments about his state captain and national wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
There has been a perception within the n camp that Maxwell has not behaved in the manner expected of an experienced international. He says he has worked extremely hard to win the trust of the hierarchy.
“I got pretty low, that’s for sure,” Maxwell said.
“I wouldn’t say as low as some might think. I was in a place where I doubted whether I’d play Test cricket again, whether I’d have a chance to put the cap back on.
“I just did everything I could, on and off the field.
“I trained as hard as I could. I changed things in my technique, I had numerous conversations with different people and tried to stay in the loop as much as I could and just kept on asking questions.
“Just changed people’s perception of what they thought Glenn Maxwell was doing.
“They go ‘what’s Maxi doing?’ Well we know he’s been training, we know he’s been in the gym or we know he’s been over here playing golf. It doesn’t matter.
“I was always in contact with them and just having those conversations made people lose those perceptions a little bit. You gained a bit of trust off people as well. For them to have that trust in me, it probably led to them giving me this opportunity.”