EVERYTHING the Australian selectors have touched this summer has turned to gold. KEN PIESSE asks how long can the euphoria last?
IN A SEASON where the Australian selectors have emulated King Midas with their canny, inspired choices, two Victorians Jon Holland and Glenn Maxwell have every reason to be angry at their omission from representative teams.
Holland clearly is the second-best spin bowler in the land, yet was passed over for the extended squad chosen for the Sydney Test.
Maxwell’s omission from the initial Australian ODI squad was even more questionable, especially given his frontline status in Australia’s Fifty50 teams for the Champions Trophy in winter and the five ODIs in India in spring.
Holland, 30, went on the front foot, saying his papers had been marked and he was unlikely ever to play for his country again.
So far, Maxwell, 29, has been more discreet, bottling up his inner fury and concentrating on lifting the Stars out of the BBL mire.
Maxwell should have “next cab” status for the Test team and is surely among the best dozen or so ODI cricketers in the country.
Why he has been consigned to domestic level cricket is a mystery. Surely, he’s not that hard to handle. Good captains find a way of smoothing and encouraging. To hear Steve Smith question Maxwell’s practice ethic was disturbing for his long-term chances of winning a place back… at any level.
Smith clearly doesn’t rate Maxwell’s sliding finger breaks, yet the Victorian is among the best fieldsmen in the country, an absolute asset for any team in the world.
His batting stats may not be as consistent as some, but for years he has been Australia’s “X” factor batsman, someone to come in and play shots immediately. Always he has played for his team and not himself.
With the half-fit Queenslander Chris Lynn included ahead of him for the soon to start ODIs, Maxwell can indeed ponder what may be going on in the corridors of power.
Lynn can’t run and can’t throw — yet he has been included for the big MCG international next weekend.
Previously under the Rod Marsh selection regime, if you couldn’t field, you didn’t play. It’s one reason why Usman Khawaja is not an automatic white-ball selection.
Holland’s much-operated shoulder stops him from throwing and a knee operation which sidelined him from the springtime domestic JLT Series matches has further slowed him.
But he’s fitter than Lynn right now. Yet he, too, can’t command a place, even in an extended squad… despite several outstanding recent seasons.
While the Australians win, the selectors will remain unscathed.
Winning the Ashes has created an all-round general euphoria. Much of it will dissolve however should Australia stumble come the Gillette one-dayers.
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now