Maxwell set for Test return


Newly-appointed Australia coach Andrew McDonald has left the door ajar for star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell to make a stunning return to Test cricket during the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

Maxwell was last week named in the white ball squad for the month-long tour of Sri Lanka, but narrowly missed out on making the cut on returning to the fold for the five-day format of the game.

The limited overs specialist has only played seven Tests during his illustrious career and the most recent of those was back in 2017 when he made 38 and 25* against Bangladesh in Chattogram.

But McDonald is well aware of Maxwell’s prowess with bat and ball, having played alongside the right-hander for Victoria and then coached the 33-year-old later in his career.

The Australia coach also knows how well Maxwell can perform on the sub-continent and pointed to his stunning Test century against India in Ranchi when asked about the chances of the veteran winning a recall.

“It is always a contemplation (to include Maxwell) and I think with 32 players being there (in Sri Lanka) at the one point in time all options are still open,” McDonald said on Melbourne radio station SEN on Tuesday.

“So, you never know with what is going to happen. He has got a great record in the sub-continent, and in India in particular with that hundred in Ranchi, and he can also give us off-spin.”

McDonald said it was important for selectors to stay loyal to the squad that performed so well and clinched the narrow 1-0 series triumph against Pakistan away from home in March.

“There was a small discussion about what it (including Maxwell) potentially looked like, but (we felt we needed to) reward the team that went to Pakistan and how that squad went about its work,” he said. “It was always going to be very difficult to change.”

Both Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland were utilised as front-line spinners the last time Australia played Test cricket in Sri Lanka, and spin is once again expected to feature heavily during the two Tests in Galle that start at the end of June.

Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and left-armer Ashton Agar were both named alongside the experienced Lyon in the 16-player Test squad, while part-timers Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith are likely to be called upon to contribute with the ball at times.

Using Maxwell as a different third spin option is one prospect that Australia may also look at, with McDonald indicating it would be unlikely that three specialist spinners would all be selected in the one side.

“Mitchell Starc has a magnificent record in the sub-continent, and in particular in Sri Lanka, and on the last tour there he was the leading wicket taker,” McDonald noted.

“You are going to be a brave man to leave out the captain (Pat Cummins) or Mitch Starc to fit in a third spinner. But (the option) is always there and you pick three spinners in your squad for that reason. I think what we have done is given ourselves the options through the squads we have picked.”