Glenn Maxwell says he is going to have to carefully manage his preparation ahead of the ODI World Cup and may not play all of the lead-in series against India after he was ruled out of the recent T20I series in South Africa due to soreness in his ankle stemming from his previously broken leg.
Maxwell was only in South Africa for four days after experiencing soreness in his left ankle while running a lap at his first training session. It is the same leg that he, in his own words, "snapped in half" in a freak accident last November. He has screws still in the ankle following surgery but this soreness stemmed from a different spot to previous pain he has experienced.
Speaking at the BBL overseas draft on Sunday night where he was part of Melbourne Stars' list team, Maxwell confirmed that he had had a cortisone injection in the ankle and revealed that he was unsure how much of the India series he will play as he and the Cricket Australia strength and conditioning team try to map out a program to have him fully fit for the World Cup.
"I still want to play some part of that India series," Maxwell said. "But I'm not feeling any pressure on it. The selectors and the staff have been brilliant with me as well. They don't want to put too much pressure on me to sort of set that date because they know they've got a bit of extra time before the World Cup. So instead of rushing it and probably putting myself a week or two behind, being able to give myself extra time and make sure we get through the whole tournament."
CA's medical took a conservative approach by ruling him out of the T20I series in South Africa, which Australia wrapped up 3-0 on Sunday, given he was already set to miss the five ODIs that start on Thursday due to the impending birth of his first child.
"I don't think I could have predicted how sore I was going to be once I got to South Africa. But it was one of those things. Even when I went to train that day, I still felt fine. There was nothing wrong. Something just got impinged.
Glenn Maxwell on how his ankle flared up
Maxwell is expected to be named in Australia's initial 15-player World Cup squad on Wednesday, although there are a number of other injury concerns including Mitchell Starc (groin), Steven Smith (wrist), Pat Cummins (wrist) and Ashton Agar (calf) heading into the tournament. Australia do not have to finalise the squad until September 28, after the three matches against India.
Maxwell will meet with CA's medical team on Monday to plan out the next couple of weeks leading into flying to India, after the flight to South Africa and a compromised lead-in led to the soreness he experienced.
"I don't think I could have predicted how sore I was going to be once I got to South Africa," he said. "But it was one of those things. Even when I went to train that day, I still felt fine. There was nothing wrong. Something just got impinged. I think one of the tendons around my ankle was a little bit inflamed, there's a bit of swelling, so it kept on catching which meant it just gave me a bit of pain. Hopefully, the cortisone takes care of that and I can get back up and running to where I was just before I went to South Africa.
"We've probably just got to be a bit smarter going forward. Making sure that my preparation is a bit more managed, I think leading into a flight like that. I'm already back in the gym, so I'll probably get back into full training probably this week, so it won't be a long turnaround. It's just knowing that I'm not over the hurdle of the original injury yet."
Complicating matters further is the birth of his first child. Maxwell is aware that he faces a delicate balancing act on all fronts over the coming weeks.
"It's going to be a busy fortnight," Maxwell said. "I suppose I'm trying to manage my program and I'll sit down with the strength conditioning crew tomorrow and nut out of a genuine plan but obviously there's some distractions as well.
"I'm trying to manage obviously a pretty special time my life with a pretty big time my career, trying to manage those two and work out the balance."
Maxwell has had a lot of cricket this year since returning from injury in February. He has played 28 T20 matches in the IPL and the Blast and two first-class games for Victoria and Warwickshire, but he has only managed one 50-over match in that time, in part due to the schedule. He was withdrawn from the Hundred prior to the issue in South Africa to rest ahead of the World Cup.
He remains a vital part of Australia's World Cup plans with his offspin especially important in India as Australia do not have a lot of spin-bowling allrounders in their squad. Smith and Travis Head are capable but neither have done much bowling in recent ODI's. Head has bowled in just four of his last 20 ODIs, and only 13 overs in total in that time, while Smith has bowled just five overs in his last 73 ODIs. Marnus Labuschagne has been omitted from the initial 18-man World Cup squad although he is in the squad for the South Africa ODIs as Smith's injury replacement.
Australia's selectors have called up Tim David to the South Africa ODI series to give him some exposure in case Maxwell is not fit for the World Cup. David can't replace Maxwell's allround skill but Maxwell believes he can translate his T20 form into the ODI format.
"He's a wonderful addition," Maxwell said. "I think the way he batted in that first [T20I against South Africa], showed great maturity, and a great level head and I think any time you bring a player in who's in good form, he's got a history of great power hitting at the back end, but what we probably haven't seen a lot on the international stage from Tim is that style of play where he is able to get through a tough time. He's a very good player of spin. He bats well in India. It doesn't surprise me that he's been added to that squad."