Matches (11)
AUS v WI (1)
WI-W v NZ-W (2)
Legends League (1)
Asia Cup (3)
Shield (3)
IND v SA (1)

Maxwell's brittle bat, and an empty MCG

Plays of the day from the fourth ODI between Australia and South Africa at the MCG

Glenn Maxwell broke his bat first ball, Australia v South Africa, 4th ODI, Melbourne, November 21, 2014

Glenn Maxwell broke his bat first ball playing a gentle shot  •  Getty Images

The bird herder
Pigeon-fancier Bill Lawry wasn't in the commentary box to make observations about the influx of seagulls that swarmed around the MCG playing surface late in the game. But someone in the broadcast team had the bright idea of trying to shoo the birds away using Spider-Cam. At the end of the 46th over, with the result in the balance and the birds having already distracted the batsmen, Spider-Cam was sent flying around the ground in a circular motion, herding the birds like an Australian sheepdog does his flock. It briefly worked, but soon enough the birds were back.
The changes
Both teams fielded almost unrecognisable attacks from the bowling units that played in the third ODI in Canberra. South Africa surprisingly left out Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander along with batsman Rilee Rossouw, while Imran Tahir was injured. They brought in Kyle Abbott, Wayne Parnell, Ryan McLaren and Robin Peterson. Australia gave Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Marsh a rest and omitted Kane Richardson and Xavier Doherty, bringing in Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell. It added up to four changes per side, and meant Dale Steyn and Mitchell Starc were the only frontline bowlers from either side to retain their places.
The injury
Coulter-Nile spent several months this year recovering from surgery on his left hamstring, so he looked understandably disconsolate when he felt the muscle go again in this match. Coulter-Nile bowled only three overs before he had to leave the field and Cricket Australia announced that he would take no further part in the match. It was unclear how long he would be sidelined but it was far from ideal timing for a man pressing for a place in Australia's World Cup squad.
The break
It's fair to say Glenn Maxwell hasn't hit them quite as well as he'd have liked over the past month. Maybe it was just a case of a dodgy bat. When Maxwell walked to the crease in this game the first ball he faced was a straightforward nudge to midwicket off Dale Steyn that brought him a single. And broke his bat. Maxwell held up the limp bit of wood, handle dangling at an unhealthy angle, and asked for a replacement from the rooms. The new bat brought him only one more run. It's been that sort of series for Maxwell.
The disappointment
International cricket in November, before the Test summer has started, will always struggle to draw spectators in Australia. But a crowd of 14,177 at the MCG on a Friday night was still disappointing. "This is not a good crowd and it's not something we're terribly happy about," Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said. "We would have hoped for a few more. We need to understand a little bit more. It's an unconventional time of the year for us to be playing [at home], but at the same time there's a lot more to it. We'll do our own assessments."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale