Australia in India 2012-13 January 29, 2013

Maxwell's bowling 'better and better' - Arthur


Glenn Maxwell has not played a first-class match in more than two months but his work in the nets to master the offspinner's stock ball has impressed Australia's selectors as they finalise the Test squad for the upcoming tour of India. The coach Mickey Arthur has suggested a spinning allrounder will be part of the Test squad, to be announced later this week, and Maxwell is a leading candidate after narrowly missing out on a Test debut against Sri Lanka in Sydney earlier this month.

Although he remains far from a frontline bowler, Maxwell could be called on to fill the allrounder's position in India as Australia adjust to life without Shane Watson's bowling. The retirement of Michael Hussey has opened up a place in the lower middle order and Arthur said the selectors would keep their options open in India, with spin- and seam-bowling allrounders in the mix along with a specialist batsman, as well as the possibility that Matthew Wade could move up to No.6 to allow room for an extra bowler.

"We've tried to cover every base that we can," Arthur said of the Test squad. "We could play a spinning allrounder, we could play a seam-up allrounder, we will have the option of two spinners, we'll probably have as many as five quicks going over. We'll try and cover as many of the bases as we possibly can and then determine team that plays based on the conditions that we face.

"We have the option of slotting Wadey up to 6 and playing a spinning allrounder or a seaming allrounder, but we'll have that position at No.7 available. If we want to go with the six specialist batsmen then that will be the wicketkeeper's position. Those are the things we have to weigh up."

The likelihood of spinning pitches in India might improve Maxwell's chances of playing alongside the frontline offspinner Nathan Lyon, although the left-armer Steve O'Keefe has also made a strong case with eight wickets in a Sheffield Shield match for New South Wales over the past week. O'Keefe is the leading spin bowler in the Shield this summer with 17 victims at 24.29, and his overall first-class figures of 78 wickets at 27.33 are encouraging.

It may be that Lyon and O'Keefe are included as the lead spinners alongside Maxwell as more of an all-round option, leaving the selectors with plenty of choices. Although Maxwell only bowled 16.1 overs during the ODI and T20 games against Sri Lanka, there were signs that he was turning the ball more than in the past and Arthur said he had been impressed by the progress Maxwell had made since he was earmarked by the selectors at the start of the summer.

"Maxwell has bowled extremely well, he is getting better and better," Arthur said. "I thought he bowled really well in Hobart in the last one-day game, albeit he only bowled two overs, but there was good shape on the ball and he did a nice job. In these two Twenty20 games he has done a nice job. He works incredibly hard.

"One of the things we've sat down and said is if you want to be the spinning allrounder you've got to put a huge amount of time into your bowling, because Maxy would always try to bowl the miracle ball and then he'd bowl a leggie, then try a doosra, he just didn't settle on anything. All we've got him in the nets is bowling offspin, offspin, offspin. It's repetition all the time and he's getting better and better at it. He's a very fast learner."

Patience has never been Maxwell's strong suit, as he demonstrated while waiting for Sri Lanka to finalise their plans for the last ball of Australia's Twenty20 chase in Melbourne on Monday, but it is an attribute he has tried to introduce to his bowling. The challenge for Maxwell will be if he does win a Test cap to show that he can maintain such perseverance if the Australians spend days on end in the field.

"It [patience] is something I've had to learn," Maxwell said before the Melbourne T20. "Wanting things to happen very quickly has been the way I have gone about things. Learning patience has been something I have worked on with Warnie and a few of the other guys in the state set-up. I've done a whole lot of work. I've been in the nets relentlessly for the last 12 months.

"Shaping the ball has changed a lot, I'm starting to get the ball to drift away from the right-hander and spin back, which I wasn't really doing. It was very straight [before]. I'm getting a lot more work on the ball, my pace and control is better as well. I'm hoping it's going to be good enough and hopefully I can play in all three formats at some stage this year."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • j on January 31, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    Australia would be better off getting in a new seamer to replace Lyon, who doesn't hit the seam often enough.

  • Andrew on January 31, 2013, 1:12 GMT

    @Fleming_Dean on (January 30 2013, 10:38 AM GMT) "...We have Khawaja who has 450 runs and same with Ferguson and both are only 50 runs behind Hughes..." - mate Hughes is over TWO HUNDRED runs ahead of Ussie! On Shield performance (so far) Hughes is light years ahead of Khawaja. This is why I DID NOT want Khawaja in the ODI side, I want him smashing Shield attacks in FC conditions & adding to his ONE ton this Shield season. I believe he can do it, I think it is counter-productive having him stuff around in the ODI side before a TEST tour! It makes no sense this mass-hysteria over Khawaja. Playing ODI cricket will diminish his potential. It was unfortunate that the Shield match against Tassie was washed out - I wish it could of been transferred to Hobart.

  • Chris on January 31, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    Bear Allen - I agree with one exception. Glenn McGrath. The great man had incredible success in India (average about 20) just as he had everywhere else in the world and that was against a far better batting lineup than the one England recently faced. He's bowled Aus to a series victory there and if not for a freak partnership between Dravid/Laxman, would have won two series. The fact is that quality controlled seam bowling will work on any pitch in the world. We have two bowlers who have accuracy, control and hit the seam regularly. They are Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris and combined with O'Keefe and Lyon, we shouldn't have any problem taking 20 wickets in India. Siddle should replace Harris if he gets injured. Johnson was an embarassment in India last time and Starc will be the same. As much as I love Pattinson and Cummins, I'd save them for England where I'd like to see Bird, Pattinson, Harris, Cummins and Siddle fighting it out. Just a shame the selectors will get it wrong again.

  • Allan on January 30, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    @Hyclass why such negativity towards our young batsman, lets get behind them and i expect both Khawaja and Hughes to be our future batting stars. Khawaja's inclusion the ODIs proves that selectors can see the talent and are rewarding run scoring and attitude.

  • Ross on January 30, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    I think the general consensus is that both Maxwell and Khawaja should be in the squad and that's what will happen. I am not sold on Smith yet. Firstly, Smith is notready for test cricket, let him spend time in shield. We have Khawaja who has 450 runs and same with Ferguson and both are only 50 runs behind Hughes who was deemed good enough to take Punters's spot. So for me those 2 deserve a spot in the Indian tour. That aside, the English have always struggled against quality bowling, if we get out best three quicks on the park these guysare going to struggle, so I think our bowling could well win us the ashes. If Clarke, Warner and Khawaja fire as well, thats a prettyhandy batting line up(lets hope warner is fine), we all know Watson will open in England and Hughes will need to learn how to combat swing bowling. will That gives us a top order of Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Wade. Now I am not yet a maxwell fan (yet)but a few years in shield wil lsort him out.

  • Graham on January 30, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Meety - Dont mind your team, Im not so sure on O Keefes batting and have Faulkner pegged to bowl between 5-10 overs. As for the paceman there are so many going pretty well dont really know who to pick. For India probably go with Siddle and one of the lefties Johnson/Starc. But Bird, Pattinson, Harris and Hilfenhaus have all got good claims as well. I also like Cowan as a player but feel Watto during his very good period was a dominant opener. Joseph_Langford: Agree some good thoughts however Im also not sure on Haddins keeping and he is older, personally I would back Wade to improve and he has looked sharper in the one-dayers. Not sure who you talking about with Head, he is a 19 year old batsman from SA certainly no keeper. As for your comments on Warner, i would have agreed with you 2 months ago. I didnt think he would get passed South Africa however, his technique has been refined and he has an amazing eye. Im starting to believe he might actually make a very good opener in tests.

  • Phil on January 30, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Khawaja has been announced to replace Warner in the first 2 ODIs, fantastic call by the selectors and shows that the selectors are willing to give Khawaja a shot, now its his to take. Hope Warner is good for the Indian series as we will need him.

  • Andrew on January 30, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @ Shaggy076 on (January 30 2013, 05:21 AM GMT) - re: your team v India. I would swap Faulkner for either Harris (if fit) or Bird. When you say " allo-rounder Faulkner for a 5th bowler who can handle the bat.." - the team already has that spot filled by SO'K. I also can't choose between Starc & MJ atm, so am torn there, but Bird has to be considered (IMO). re: Ashes team - I wouldn't take Cowan to India, but I would start him against England instead of Rogers. Other than that I'd pick the same. I have heard that Lord Dexter is calling for England to prepare turners so they can field Panesar & Swann, so maybe the India tour will be a great dress-rehearsal for the Ashes (doubt it)!

  • Dummy4 on January 30, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    @ Shaggy076 My team for India : Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, O Keefe/Smith, Starc/Johnson/Pattinson/Bird/Siddle, Lyon. My reserve keeper is Head from Tassie (big call I know).

    You admit that India will prepare spinners pitches ... you select two spinners .... then select a keeper who can't keep for the most passive of spinners.

    Wouldn't pick the Ashes Team until after India but I do think that Warner will be found wanting in the England. If I was in the Team Management I would be sending Marsh, Cutting, Henriques, McDermott and Wade to County Cricket before the Ashes.

  • Phil on January 30, 2013, 8:06 GMT

    @Shaggy076 i agree 100% with your team and justification and implore others to look at it. @Hyclass at the half way point at christmas break Khawaja was 2nd in shield tally, 3rd in Ryobi and this year he improved 100% in his Big bash runs tally. lLke you i was critical of Khawaja earlier in the season but he impressed me in that where you score your runs does make a difference, do you think they will have nice flat pitches waiting for us in the ashes, they will have seamer friendly decks to help their classy fast men and that is where Khawaja comes through as he has scored on absolute green decks where the other teams struggled to match his individual scores, 140 against Tasmania when they got 90, 2 half centuries against NSW when they only got 150 and a 90 odd against South Australia on a green gabba deck on his debut for the Bulls. We need batsman like Hussey who score in difficult situations and none better then Khawaja as pointed out