Glenn Maxwell's IPL Success Shouldn't Lead to Australia Test Recall

Alex Telfer@@troyspeerFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2014

Australia's batsman Glenn Maxwell prepares to play a shot during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

Glenn Maxwell has surpassed Chris Gayle as the leading Twenty20 player in the world and clamour for a Test recall is building.

But does he deserve a spot based on his Indian Premier League exploits?

Speaking on alternativecricket.com, the player himself spoke of his aim of a Test return:

I think to get back into the Test side would be an amazing achievement. Having been known as a T20 and ODI player, to prove them wrong and to get myself back into that Test side, that would be amazing achievement. From then, I would make a new set of goals. For me, now, the sole goal is to get back into the Test side.

But the answer to the question does he deserve a recall is no. It is one thing slapping Indian medium pacers into the stands at small grounds on hard decks prepared to favour the batsmen. However, in the world of Test cricket, fields can be tailor-made, bowling plans implemented and the ball will most likely be swinging and seaming around.

There is no hiding place.

As Maxwell found out on his initial two-match foray into Test cricket in Australia's dismal tour of India, early in 2013.

In four innings, he made just 39 runs and returned an economy rate of 4.70 runs per over, albeit picking up seven wickets.

The thing is, getting dismissed in T20 cricket playing a stupid shot is all part and parcel of the spectacle. But get caught out on the boundary slogging a few times in a five-day contest and people are less forgiving.

Maxwell's technique would be ruthlessly examined, too. Getting your front foot out of the way and hoisting the ball into the onside works in T20 cricket. As do the improvised scoops and switch hits when the fielders are widely spread primarily trying to prevent boundaries.

In Test cricket, traps would be set and catchers positioned in his scoring zones.

Another question: Does he have the mental capacity for the longer game at the higher level? One of the hardest things to explain to a cricket novice is why they score runs so "slowly" in first-class cricket as opposed to the one-day stuff.

Time, which brings with it a completely different mindset, is the main reason. Patience and discipline are required. What good is hitting 30 runs off 20 balls and getting out when you could have batted all day and scored many more?

That is not to say that Maxwell can't make it in the longest form of the game. His first-class record is decent as evidenced by an average of 41.04 with four tons in 27 matches. With dwindling audiences for Test cricket in most countries, the format needs him.

Look at some of the similar "maverick" figures who have graced the game in recent years:

Kevin Pietersen learned his trade scoring thousands of runs for KwaZulu-Natal and Nottinghamshire before making England's 50-over team and then being selected for the Test squad in the 2005 Ashes.

Adam Gilchrist paid his dues playing in state cricket, building up his experience before initially breaking through to the Australian ODI team. In fact, it was seven years between his first-class debut and his inaugural Test appearance.

Conversely, Shahid Afridi was thrown into the deep end too soon, making his Test bow aged just 18. Did this rude awakening shorten the prodigiously talented all-rounder's Test career? He's only played 27 Tests and averages in the mid-30s with both bat and ball.

Besides, does the Australian team need him at the moment? They have a relatively settled line-up and a nice mix of batting styles—i.e. the opening pair of the obdurate Chris Rogers and the brutal David Warner.

Maxwell's time will come, but for now he needs to prove it through weight of runs for Hampshire during his current stint as an overseas player and then for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield.

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