MITCHELL JOHNSON: Glen Maxwell’s form a real concern for Australia ahead of T20 cricket World Cup

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Australia need to be worried about Glen Maxwell's form slump and life has been a beach for the Aussies in their T20 World Cup preperation.
Australia need to be worried about Glen Maxwell's form slump and life has been a beach for the Aussies in their T20 World Cup preperation. Credit: Getty

While there was plenty of talk around Mitchell Starc’s struggles early in the Indian Premier League, his form in the finals as he led Kolkata Knight Riders to the title showed he will be ripe and ready for the T20 World Cup.

Australia’s biggest concern is actually Glenn Maxwell.

An out-of-sorts Maxwell even took a break during the IPL, effectively dropping himself from Royal Challengers Bengaluru as he had a rest for his own mental and physical wellbeing and to try and get himself back into some form.

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It didn’t work, finishing the tournament with just 52 runs from nine innings at an average of 5.78. A golden duck in the eliminator final topped his season off.

The concern around those numbers is obvious but I think the most worrying part is where Maxwell is at mentally and physically leading into a World Cup.

He loves playing for Australia and enjoys the responsibility of knowing he is a potential match winner. The way Maxwell bats can be hit or miss as we’ve seen in this year’s IPL. And I’ve personally witnessed his purple patches where he is simply unstoppable.

Being around the Aussie set-up with his mates will be good for him and his mental state. I’m sure the messaging from the selectors and coaches around him will all be positive, and to play in his normal fashion.

There must be some concern about his lack of runs though. Time will tell. Anything can happen in T20 cricket and things can turn around quickly with one good performance.

Australia certainly need Maxwell firing with the bat and if they are to win the tournament, his all-round ability and energy in the field is a must.

It wouldn’t be the first time Maxwell has rebounded from a poor IPL to find his best form for Australia. He was in one of those moods in last year’s 50-over World Cup so let’s hope it’s a mindset he can recapture.

The pressures of the IPL and having a big price tag next to your name as an overseas star can play a part over there. Maxwell has shown he can perform in pressure situations, more so when he is playing for Australia while playing with his mates and with support staff who he is comfortable with.

If he can get himself into a strong mindset and believe he is the best T20 batsman with the highest strike rate in the world, then we could still see fireworks from him.

Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign began in bizarre fashion with a nine-man team thrashing Namibia in their first warm-up game on Wednesday (AEST). At one stage the Aussies had four coaching staff on the ground as sub fielders.

The Aussies have taken a very relaxed approach to their preperations.
The Aussies have taken a very relaxed approach to their preperations. Credit: GARY JORDAN

Regardless of the result, it was a strange look after the remainder of the squad – Maxwell, Starc, Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis and Cam Green - were granted time-off at home following the IPL. It’s a real change in preparation for a World Cup and something you don’t see in too many other sports.

The warm-up matches were optional and although I think the Aussies have a side to win the World Cup, it still leaves a few questions. One of them being whether playing short takes away from a special moment for their opponents to play a full-strength Australian side. Even though nine players was all they needed to win, another question is whether reserve players should have been allowed to take part.

A further issue is the marginalisation of tour or warm-up matches before any big tournament or series, after Australia chose to play none before last year’s World Test Championship final and Ashes series.

And the biggest question of all involves the continued erosion of international cricket by the all-conquering IPL. Is it now just as simple as franchise money first, national-team duties second?

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