Maxwell’s immediate hopes dampened


Glenn Maxwell’s immediate hopes of a Test return may have dampened as Travis Head showed few signs of his hamstring strain during Australia’s first training session in the seaside city of Galle. 

Amid brief showers that twice interrupted the practice sessions, Head completed a series of extended run-throughs before having a long bat in the nets in the Sunday afternoon heat.

Maxwell has been called in as cover for the incumbent No.5 batter, but his five-year Test absence will continue if Head is passed fit for Wednesday’s series opener against Sri Lanka at the picturesque seaside venue that sits in the shadow of a historic fort overlooking the Indian ocean.

The repeated running efforts Head completed on a heavy Colombo outfield during the ODI series was a major factor in him suffering the injury, but that burden would be reduced significantly during the Tests.

The 28-year-old typically fields at bat-pad to the spinners, a position Maxwell was also practicing for on Sunday.

Jon Holland and fellow left-arm spinner Ashton Agar are to miss at least the first Test, but spent time in the middle bowling to wicketkeeper Alex Carey along with Nathan Lyon.

Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is Lyon’s incumbent spinning partner and he too was making a return to action at training having recovered from a gastro bug that ruled him out of Friday’s final ODI against Sri Lanka.

Finger spinners are typically preferred in Tests in this part of the world, which would open the door for Holland (who made his debut in Galle six years ago) or Matthew Kuhnemann (who has also stayed back after impressing in the ODIs) to partner Lyon for the first Test.

Agar would also be in the mix for the second Test if he regains fitness.

Mitchell Starc continues to be bothered by the left index finger he sliced open earlier this month and did not bowl at training, while Steve Smith, was feeling unwell and was an unusual no-show at training.