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An elbow surgery has ruled Glenn Maxwell out of the upcoming ODIs and T20Is against South Africa starting February 21. Maxwell will undergo surgery to his left elbow and will be replaced by D'Arcy Short in both squads. Maxwell is expected to require six to eight weeks before he is ready to return to playing, Cricket Australia said, which means he is likely to miss the beginning of the IPL too, which is set to begin at the end of March.
Maxwell told the Australian team medical staff that pain in the elbow he had been managing through the recently-concluded BBL "had increased over the weekend" and he was then reviewed by Cricket Victoria's Dr Trefor James, Australian team doctor Richard Saw and a specialist surgeon in Melbourne, a Cricket Australia release confirmed. Scans revealed some loose fragments of bone within the elbow joint of his non-throwing arm and Maxwell will undergo arthroscopic surgery this Thursday.
"We are disappointed to lose Glenn this close to the tour as we were looking forward to welcoming him back to the national side in both the 20- and 50-over formats after his break during the summer," national selector Trevor Hohns said. "Unfortunately, the pain he has experienced in the elbow in the latter stages of the BBL increased over the weekend and he will have surgery immediately to rectify the situation.
"An opportunity has now presented itself for D'Arcy and we're confident he'll make the most of whatever opportunities come his way in South Africa. Like Glenn, D'Arcy is an inventive, hard-hitting batsman who offers a handy spin-bowling option. We have no doubt he will make a positive contribution to the squad."
Short was one of four standby players identified by the selection panel when the original squads were chosen and had also replaced Sean Abbott for the ODIs in India last month, although he didn't get a game there. While Short has been included, Marcus Stoinis has once again be overlooked. Short is seen as a more like-for-like replacement for Maxwell despite also being an opener in the BBL because of his ability to bowl left-arm wristspin. He took a maiden T20 five-wicket haul against the Sydney Thunder late in the BBL season.
Stoinis broke the BBL record for the most runs in a season, with a tally of 705 including a century and six half-centuries, surpassing Short's previous record. But Stoinis only bowled two overs for the tournament. Mitchell Marsh was chosen for the South Africa series as the seam-bowling allrounder not only because of his bowling, but he also scored at a higher strike rate with a lower dot-ball percentage batting in the middle order for the Perth Scorchers.
Maxwell was not confident about performing at the international level with the injury and decided to undergo surgery.
"Representing Australia is the highest honour in cricket and something I cherish," Maxwell said. "I was not confident that I could perform at international level with my elbow in its current state and have decided to undergo surgery straight away to fix the issue."
Maxwell's injury is a huge blow for Australia who badly missed his late innings power-hitting during the recent tour of India. He had been omitted from that series despite an outstanding BBL where he guided the Melbourne Stars to the final again with some dominant batting performances as well as some excellent bowling in the powerplays in particular. He has not played for Australia since taking a mental health break midway through Australia's T20 International series with Sri Lanka back in late October of 2019. But he played every game of the BBL season without issue and spoke about feeling refreshed and ready to return to international cricket after being selected for the tour of South Africa.
Australia will play three T20Is and as many ODIs with the tour scheduled from February 21 to March 7.
Maxwell had been picked up by Kings XI Punjab for INR 10.75 crore (US$ 1.5 million approx.) in the auction in December, among the three Australian millionaires along with Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile. With the IPL expected to begin on March 28, Maxwell could miss a few games for Kings XI who would have banked on him as a reliable middle-order power-hitter.