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Maxwell forging his own path to Ashes

Glenn Maxwell goes in-depth on messages from the selectors, character rumours and balancing Ashes and World Cup ambitions

Sam Ferris Exclusive

10 January 2019, 11:33 AM AEST

Despite being left out of Australia's Test squad for the upcoming Domain Series against Sri Lanka, Glenn Maxwell's quest to don the Baggy Green in the Ashes will not be quashed.

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns said on Wednesday the National Selection Panel (NSP) want Maxwell to focus on white-ball cricket ahead of the 50-over World Cup in England later this year.

While the Victorian is happy with that plan he is also desperate to add to his seven Test caps and has taken pre-emptive measures to give himself the best chance to return to the Test arena for the first time since September 2017.

Last month, Maxwell signed a deal with County Championship club Lancashire which will see him play one first-class match and six one-day matches before Australia's World Cup squad assembles for a training camp in Brisbane in early May.

Maxwell says the decision to play in England was two-pronged: to get experience in English conditions ahead of the World Cup and Ashes, and to prove how serious he is about his Test ambitions by sourcing valuable red-ball cricket off his own bat.

"I've certainly made it clear that I wouldn't have gone to England this year if I wasn't still trying to play Test cricket," Maxwell said on the latest episode of The Unplayable Podcast.

"There's a big thought from my side that I'm not getting enough first-class cricket in Australia and that's probably shown by this summer – I'm only going to play two Shield games for the whole season.

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"And when you play more white ball trying to get ready for that World Cup it's going to hurt your chances of pushing forward your Test selections.

"So, I've taken it out of their hands and signed with a County early so at least I can give myself some sort of red-ball cricket and some sort of longer-form experience, because for a player who's played as long as I have I certainly haven't played the amount of first-class cricket as everyone else has.

"As Trevor Hohns said, in that white-ball World Cup let's just hope I can make enough runs in the one-day format, wherever I'm batting, and it's good enough to show them I have the technique and temperament to play Test cricket.

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"Because I feel like I'm doing everything I can and I'm trying to make all the right moves off the field by getting red-ball cricket elsewhere and showing I'm 100 per cent serious."

Maxwell is a batsman hungry for first-class cricket but has been starved of game time due to his national limited-overs commitments.

The overlapping international and domestic schedules during the Australian summer means while Australia are playing white-ball cricket, the JLT Sheffield Shield is running without the likes of Maxwell.

"It's a bit of a double-edged sword," said Maxwell, who averages 41.10 in first-class cricket.

"If you are playing Shield cricket you're not playing for Australia and if you're playing for Australia you're not playing Shield cricket.

"You just miss out on those opportunities.

"But what they (the NSP) have always said is that runs in any format is always going to be currency but it's always a bit more difficult if you're batting down the order.

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"Batting lower down in the Australia one-day side probably a few years ago I was only batting for 10 or 11 overs to try and get us in a better position and they certainly weren't going to pick me in the Test side because I was slogging a 50 off 20 balls."

Consistency has been the key for Maxwell and the constant message from the NSP when asked what he must do to remain a regular in all three of Australia's teams.

The 30-year-old is one of the few players in the world to have a Test, ODI and T20I century on his record, but it has been rumoured it wasn't his abilities with the bat that have cost him selection in the past.

In 2016, Maxwell was hit with a team-imposed fine for comments he made about his teammate and then State captain Matthew Wade, while former captain Steve Smith questioned Maxwell's training attitude 12 months ago, saying he should "train a little bit smarter".

But on Wednesday Hohns emphatically said Maxwell's character had absolutely nothing to do with his Test omission for the series against Sri Lanka.

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"There is nothing to do with that at all," Hohns said.

"Sure, when we look at teams now we obviously take into account players' characters but I can assure you there is no issue whatsoever.

"Glenn hasn't played Test cricket for us for a while and I guess right here and now we are wanting him to focus on white-ball cricket with the World Cup coming up.

"Obviously, when there is a position becomes available in the batting line-up, it depends where that position is and the type of player we require.

"We've had several conversations with Glenn about all this and right now he is just content to focus on one-day cricket and white-ball cricket.

"However, he makes it very clear he would like to play Test cricket, there is no doubt about that."

Maxwell says the noise around his character was borne out of the search for an excuse when overlooked for last year's Test tour to the UAE.

"I think when there was a lot of the 'good bloke' chat … being in the group that wasn't picked to go over to the UAE and I wasn't in the Australia A stuff I suppose people start to ask why that certain player is (overlooked)," Maxwell said.

"They (NSP) just had other ideas, they wanted to try new people and that's the way things went.

"I'm certainly not sulking about it. I'm pretty happy with where I'm at, at the moment.

"I'm still trying to do all I can to get back in that Test side but I've just got to make sure I'm making every post a winner from now on."