MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is well known for his batting pyrotechnics but hopes a defensive tweak to his technique can be key to locking up the contentious number six spot for the Ashes.
Since scoring a mature and composed century against India in the Ranchi test in March, the man nicknamed ‘the Big Show’ has failed to surpass 50 in seven test innings and his selection for the upcoming series against England is far from assured.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann has said Maxwell’s number six spot is up for grabs, leaving the 29-year-old righthander in a shoot-out with other hopefuls in the domestic Sheffield Shield in the leadup to the first test in Brisbane on Nov. 23.
Maxwell’s faltering output prompted a self-analysis and he was not impressed with what he saw on video review.
“It was a little bit frustrating watching myself back and going ‘I don’t like what I see there’,” he told local media.
”I looked back at a lot of footage and I just noticed a few things creeping into my game.
”I had a very one-day technique where I was able to work the ball sidewards with my hands.
“I basically got rid of that and made sure I was holding my shape a lot longer.”
The correction failed to bring a big score during last month’s tour of Bangladesh but Maxwell said it had already helped soak up minutes out in the middle, as shown by a 98-ball knock of 38 in the second test in Chittagong.
“I’ve really honed a technique that can bat a long period of time and I changed a few things technically to make sure I had a solid defence and something that could sustain long periods of pressure,” he said.
“Unfortunately the way I got out was a bit disappointing, to have the ball just sort of crawl over my body and get to the keeper was a bit frustrating, but the work I did throughout that period showed me that was I was doing was the right thing.”
Maxwell’s lean run saw him axed after three matches of the one-day international series in India but former Australia captain Steve Waugh has backed him to make an impression in the Ashes if selectors stick with him.
“He’s inconsistent but he’s a match winner and there are not too many of them around,” Waugh told local media.
”If he’s managed the right way he can be a force in test match cricket, there’s no doubt about that.
“With him he looks like a confidence player so if he gets picked I would say to him ‘you are playing every test match’ and then you will get the benefit.”
While a handy offspin bowler and an excellent fielder, Maxwell’s batting average stands at 26.07 after seven tests.
Top order batsman Shaun Marsh, who has an average of 36 from 23 tests, and discarded opener Joe Burns (37.95 from 13 tests) are two players seen pushing for selection.
“There is some good, healthy rivalry for it and whoever plays well, hopefully they play well during the Ashes,” said Maxwell.
”I think it would be a huge personal accomplishment to hold my spot in the Australian test team after I’ve had a fair few doubters, especially in the long form of the game.
“So if I could hold my spot for that period of time and beyond, that would be exceptional.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury