Hard work pays off

GLENN Maxwell has firmed to tour India as a spin-bowling all-rounder on the strength of a couple of Twenty20 cameos and some overdue diligence in the nets.

The national selectors on Wednesday will finalise the squad for the four-Test series in India, with Maxwell and seam-bowling all-rounder Moises Henriques in contention. They are unlikely to pick Brad Haddin as a second gloveman because a replacement can be sent to India at short notice, but could include both all-rounders.

Shane Watson’s fitness and the roles opened up by him not bowling are among the final details to be decided. The selectors are expected to name a squad of 17 to allow maximum flexibility in the fight to keep the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Maxwell has had a modest summer but claimed 1-23 and 2-15 in the Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka, having noted the touring batsmen played him with ease in the one-day series.

The 24-year-old, who has not played a first-class match for more than two months, is also yet to convince of his credentials as a Test batsman, but is likely to be included because he presents the selectors with the chance to build an attack of three frontline seamers, spinner Nathan Lyon and an extra spin option.

”I think you’ll find we’ve tried to cover as many bases as we can – and it’s still not finalised yet,” coach Mickey Arthur said.

”We could play a spinning all-rounder, we could play a seam-up all-rounder, we’ll have the option of two spinners, we’ll probably have as many as five quicks going over.

”We’ll try and cover as many of the bases as we possibly can and then determine the team that plays based on the conditions we face. That will determine whether we have the option of slotting [Matthew Wade] up to six and playing a spinning all-rounder or a seaming all-rounder, we’ll have that position at No. 7 available.

”If we want to go with six specialist batsmen then that [No. 7 slot] will be the wicketkeeper’s position. Those are things we’ve got to weigh up.”

Confidence is Maxwell’s trademark but so is impatience and he had to be told to practise his stock ball with more discipline in order to improve, although he is a long way from being regarded as a frontline spinner.

”Maxwell’s bowled extremely well. He’s getting better and better,” Arthur said. ”I thought he bowled really well in Hobart in the last one-day game, albeit he only bowled two overs. He had good shape on the ball and in these two Twenty20 games he’s done a nice job.

”He works incredibly hard. One of the things [we impressed upon him when] we sat down with him was that, ‘If you want to be the spinning all-rounder, you’ve got to put a huge amount of time into your bowling’.

”Maxi would always try and bowl a miracle ball and then he’d bowl a leggie and then a doosra. He just didn’t settle on anything. All we’ve got him doing in the nets is just bowling off-spin, off-spin, off-spin. It’s repetition all the time, and he’s getting better and better at it. He’s a very fast learner.”

Should Maxwell or Henriques bat at seven, pushing Wade up to six, Usman Khawaja could again be relegated to bridesmaid status.

Khawaja, the specialist batsman earmarked to replace Mike Hussey in the middle order, will make the squad but the need for a fifth bowling option might mean he has to wait longer for a recall to the XI.

He is perhaps the most technically accomplished of the fringe batsmen, but has had a stop-start summer – being on standby for two Tests, called up for a solitary ODI and being starved of first-class cricket.

Steve Smith will tour as a spare batsman but can also contribute overs of spin.

Likely squad for India: Michael Clarke, Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Xavier Doherty, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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