Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney December 28, 2012

Australia include Glenn Maxwell for Sydney Test


The allrounder Glenn Maxwell is in line for his Test debut after being named to replace the injured Shane Watson for the Sydney Test against Sri Lanka starting January 2. Watson has been ruled out due to the calf injury he suffered while bowling on the first day at the MCG and the captain Michael Clarke is also in some doubt due to the hamstring injury he sustained in Hobart. While Clarke expects he will be fit to play at the SCG, Usman Khawaja will remain on standby as Australia assess Clarke's recovery.

Maxwell is almost certain to play as the Australians look ahead to the tour of India, where they will require a second spinner, although Clarke also raised the possibility of bringing Mitchell Starc back in for Watson, to bowl alongside Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird. Whatever happens, Clarke has declared Starc a certain starter, but a four-man pace attack along with Lyon appears unnecessary in Sydney conditions.

"Shane is out of the Sydney Test and Glenn Maxwell comes into the squad as a replacement for Watto [Watson], being the allrounder," Clarke said after Australia's win in Melbourne. "The other person on standby is Usman Khawaja for me once again. I have got a bit of extra time now, winning this game in three days, to give myself every chance to be right for Sydney and I'm really confident I'll be fit for Sydney. But Usman is on standby just in case.

"Maxwell comes into the squad as the allrounder, so it is a squad of 13 and then we wait and see what the conditions are like in Sydney. I think the other allrounder sits beside me right here [Mitchell Johnson] as he showed with the bat in this game. So we've got options. If you think the wicket is going to spin you've got the option of Maxy [Maxwell], if you think there's enough in there to play four fast bowlers and a spinner, you've got [Johnson]."

The uncertainty over Clarke's fitness and the absence of the vice-captain, Watson, also means Australia's selectors will need to decide who would be captain in the event that Clarke is ruled out. The logical replacement for a one-off Test would be the veteran Michael Hussey, although David Warner would be another option after the selectors indicated his leadership potential last summer by briefly naming him vice-captain of the one-day side.

"I haven't had that conversation with the selectors, not to say they haven't thought about it, I'm sure they have," Clarke said when asked about the captaincy if he was to sit out. "But I haven't. I don't know the answer to that question."

"I don't think [my hamstring has] got worse, that's for sure. The thing with my injury, it's about how you pull up as well. Yesterday I batted for a fair bit of time and made a hundred. I really need to assess over the next 24-48 hours how I pull up, continue with my strength programme, continue with my maintenance work to make sure I'm 100% right for Sydney. I think it's more precaution than anything else."

The most likely scenario is that Clarke will play and Maxwell will come in for Watson, to bat at No.7, with Matthew Wade to move up to No.6. Clarke confirmed that if he was declared fit he himself would bat at No.4 in Sydney, with Hussey at No.5. The inclusion of Maxwell would give Australia two offspinners, but Clarke was confident both Maxwell and Nathan Lyon could work in the same side.

"They're two very different bowlers," Clarke said. "Glenn brings that allrounder package. He's scored plenty of runs for Victoria with the bat, I think he averages over 40 with the bat in first-class cricket, and he's had success with the ball. He's the full package and he has that X-factor about him. It's now about assessing conditions and making sure we pick the best XI."

Maxwell, 24, has played 15 first-class matches and collected 27 wickets at 33.81, and has scored 924 runs at an average of 42. He made his ODI and Twenty20 international debuts earlier this year and is viewed as a player of enormous potential by John Inverarity's selection panel.

The absence of Watson will also raise further questions about his ability to perform the dual roles of batting in the top four and bowling in Test cricket, after calf and hamstring injuries ruled him out of the whole of last summer and the first two Tests against South Africa this season. Clarke said there were times when he held Watson back from bowling too much due to his batting commitments, but he said any decision to give up bowling would have to be made by Watson alone.

"That's really decided by Watto," Clarke said. "He wants to be an allrounder. If you're an allrounder you've got to be able to bat and bowl. Unless that changes in his mind, it won't change in mine. We speak about it often. We're very lucky to have such a good player who can do both, he could be in the team as a bowler, he could be in the team as a batter."

Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Craig on December 31, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    This obsession Australia has in finding a all rounder is becoming laughable! I do admit its such an advantage having a great all rounder in your team line kallis or flintoff but we don't have one anywhere near the quality of those two so why pick one? Watson has been put everywhere in the batting order to accommodate his bowling but he has only made runs opening the bat so why move him? The bloke has made a career out of getting injuried so why bowl him more? Maxwell bowling avg is 33 in state cricket not anywhere good enough to play for Australia! Pick 6 batters, a keeper and 4 bowlers if we don't have that quality allrounder, it's not rocket science!

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    Mmm Maxwell has taken 6/104 in his last two first class matches. Maybe "straight breaks" are effective against the current crop of domestic cricketers.

  • Mariam on December 29, 2012, 11:29 GMT

    @Junikamra, Koelme and Stymie i couldn't agree with you guys more on getting Khawaja in and the frustration that he has not been picked but an all rounder who doesn't even bowl good off spin. I think with Hussey's retirement you will see the selectors replace a batsman with another batsman and Khawaja will get his chance to show what he can do.

  • Allan on December 29, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    @DavidFong this season Khawaja has scored centruies in vital games this year. In Hobart he got 140 when Tasmania got 90 and 130 on a green deck and against NSW he top scored in both inning against a star NSW attack. I think the frustration around him is the lack of chances given to him when he has done what the selectors asked him which was to bat aggressively, field better and run better between the wickets. GetClue i share your frustration but i think Hussey's retirement now will allow the selectors to get him in before the ashes, so wait and see because NSP panel will reward performance.

  • Mashuq on December 29, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    @Micky.Panda on (December 29 2012, 03:42 AM GMT): the fallacy in your position is not taking the context into consideration. It's a spinning batter that is needed both now and in India. But how can Maxwell assist except for wheeling a few unthreatening overs of straight off-breaks. Better to have someone like David Hussey to do that since he will score runs, too! Of course he's too old but with his brother retiring why not take him to India! At least the average age of the team won't increase if Mike hadn't retired. Make some sensible decisions, NSP!

  • John on December 29, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    Hussey's door opens a new door for Khawaja but I am sure they will continue to be 'inconsistent' with Khawaja no matter what.

  • mike on December 29, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    Micky.Panda. Clarke at no.5 and no.6 has 6235 runs at an ave of 61. At no.4 he has 565 runs at an ave of 21. Clarke recently came in at scores of 3 down for around 40 and 50 against the best side in the world, Sth Africa. He made 259* and 230. You were saying..? I suggest you check a few facts before you repeat the thoughts of a fmr captain on Clarke's best batting position. Now answer this: If Watson was fit but only as a batsman would you stand down Maxwell for him? Of course you would. Well you have just replaced a so called allrounder for a batsman haven't you? Well then logically you'd have to pick a batsman for Watson now right? I thought this would have been totally obvious.

  • Mick on December 29, 2012, 3:42 GMT

    @HyClass The fact that Watson only bowled 8 overs in this match is irrelevant. This match was an easy win and full complement of bowlers was not needed. Contrast that to SA matches where Watson had to bowl a lot. If Maxwell is not a good enough bowler then only discuss who is. The spare bowler who can bat is needed. Mitch's batting has been very inconsistent unfortunately. Maybe Henriques is an option, or McDonald, or even Cutting. Forget Khawaja unless he is replacing a pure batsman.

  • Mick on December 29, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    @mican Clarke is batting well at No. 5. Is batting at 4 going to make him a much worse player? More superstition than anything. Players like to bat as low as 5 because helps them to improve their averages by more Not Out performances, e.g. Steve Waugh. Batting at 5 doesn't help much when your lose 3 early wickets. If tail should collapse, Clarke can easily run out of partners. Normally the best batsman should be at 3 or 4. Khawaja cannot replace Watson simply because the extra bowler is vital specially with swathe of injuries. Who bats at 4 is of far lesser significance. If you put in Khawaja, some other batsman has to go to make way for a bowler. This is totally obvious.

  • Gary on December 29, 2012, 3:08 GMT

    Warner, Watson, Hughes, S.Smith, (D.Hussey) M.Clarke, M. Hussey, Wade(Paine), M.Johnson, Siddle, Richardson, O'keefe. Bird, Henriques. Once again the selectors have Dismayed everyone with a ridiculous selection, if they want another spin option surely someone who takes the ball away like O'keefe, or S.Smith who both have batting averages in line with Maxwells. Maxwell is not the form allrounder or batsmen outside of the current squad. Cricket politics will forever hold back this country.