Can Glenn Maxwell make it a Freaky Thursday for Australia?

Hardik Pandya had his moment. Jos Buttler had his moment. Ben Stokes has had a World Cup full of moments, unusual ones for him, but moments. Even Andre Russell had his early on, with the ball rather than the bat. But, also moments.

In this esteemed club of freaks, Glenn Maxwell has not yet truly turned in a freak performance at this World Cup. This has not not been Maxwell's World Cup, but it's equally fair to say that Maxwell has not set the tournament alight. Not yet anyway.

Actually, it's been a weird tournament for Maxwell, and not in a bad way. On several occasions he has threatened to create one of those moments. Like, for example, the India game in which, for 25 minutes, Maxwell threatened to go full Maxwell.

Or against Pakistan when, on a tough pitch, for 20 minutes this time, it felt like we may get Maxwell doing a Maxwell. Against Sri Lanka, there was a moment-lite but it was overshadowed by what his captain was doing.

There has been the usual frustration about it. Sometimes Maxwell himself has been the source of it - the three dismissals to short balls against West Indies, South Africa and England for instance. On these occasions, it's been impossible to not go back to what he told ESPNcricinfo before the start of the World Cup: "I've always given people an excuse to probably leave my spot open for grabs, and that's just down to me not performing at the right time or when I have been given those opportunities."

At other times, it's been his team. Australia sent him in too late in the chase against India and then too early against Pakistan. He was always going to be floating in the batting order but, on that Taunton surface, with a great start already banked, they didn't need to go so hard so soon - as Aaron Finch would later admit.

Given that Australia have, several times in the past, not known what to do with Maxwell, there was little surprise that a report emerged in the run-up to the semi-final against England that Maxwell might be dropped to make way for Matthew Wade. He's averaging only 22 (though striking at 163 is some consolation), the short ball has done him in (and batsmen are never made to feel more inferior when they're being done by short balls). Plus Wade's been in freak form himself for a while.

On the surface, it would seem an unlikely route to take, if only because drafting in two new players to play their first World Cup matches at the semi-final stage is something that Pakistan or Sri Lanka might do, but not so much Australia.

It would also be - no matter what the batting numbers say - harsh, because it would misjudge the value Maxwell has brought to this team, in this campaign. He's been outstanding in the field, which is no surprise, but when needed he's also filled a massive fifth-bowler-shaped hole in their attack.

He doesn't have a single wicket to show for 49 overs of bowling but, as in the game against Sri Lanka, what has mattered more is how many runs he has not conceded. Until March this year, he had not bowled a full quota of 10 overs in a game since 2015; in this tournament alone he's done it twice, as well as other stints of 6, 7 and 7 overs. Only once has he really been taken apart, against Pakistan at Taunton in a game in which both sides didn't play their specialist spinners and all non-specialist spinners went for runs.

Finch wasn't going to announce his XI the day before a semi-final - that too against England - but he did his best to douse down talk of a surprise axing. Maxwell not turning up for an optional training session was "reading a bit too much" into it. More runs would be nice, Finch said, but he was doing much more.

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"Yes, I think runs are around the corner. I think he would have liked to have got a few more runs, but he's been hitting the ball nicely. I think if you look at his contribution in the field, he's up there with most runs saved in the field, his great run-out at Taunton to win that game for us against Pakistan in a really tight game, the overs that he's bowled, he hasn't got the wickets but he's bowled really tight, he's bowled some key overs for us that have allowed us to mix and match our bowlers through them middle overs.

"As far as the runs, I'm not bothered about that at all because the way he's batting, the way that he's going about his innings, I think there's some real positives there, so runs are just around the corner and we know how damaging he is. When he gets in, he can be as destructive as anyone in the world, so that is a huge positive.

But I think the overall package, the three factors that he brings to the game, is still a very exciting package."

Does it sound a little too much like a freak-level talent is being turned into a - and this is both the best and worst time to dig this one up again - bits-and-pieces player? That he's filling roles and holes in a team that has found itself as it has gone along in this tournament?

Maybe, and maybe, given how Finch, David Warner and Mitchell Starc have gone, he hasn't needed to be anything more.

And maybe that is fine. Australia has not suffered for this switch. But if there ever was a moment for Maxwell to pull out that inner freak again, well, Edgbaston on Thursday won't be a bad time for it.