Glenn Maxwell has revealed his hunger to play an integral role in Australia's one-day World Cup title defence and return to the Test side is behind his decision to play county cricket rather than put in for the upcoming Indian Premier League auction.
Lancashire announced Friday UK time that Maxwell had signed on to play all three formats of the United Kingdom's county season ahead of Australia's back-to-back World Cup and Ashes campaigns to be held on British soil.
The 30-year-old will play a maximum of five red-ball County Championship matches, alongside Queenslander Joe Burns, who has also penned a deal with Lancashire and looks set to be available for 10 first-class matches.
The decision represents a major financial sacrifice from the allrounder; purchased by Delhi Daredevils (now called Delhi Capitals) for $A1.8 million for the most recent IPL, Maxwell was released by the Ricky Ponting-coached franchise for next year's tournament though could have fetched another hefty price in this month’s auction.
But Maxwell, who has played in the last seven IPL tournaments, said his focus is on representing Australia in England and winning games for his new county club.
"Coming over to England early next year will also help me acclimatise to conditions ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup, which I am hugely excited about," Maxwell said.
"I still have aspirations to play Test cricket for Australia, so I felt it was important that I play some first-class cricket whilst I am over in England.
"The County Championship is a hugely competitive competition and I’m looking forward to being part of Lancashire’s red ball side next year."
Burns, too, is excited about the prospect of tuning up in England ahead of the Ashes, with the 29-year-old last playing Test cricket in South Africa in April, before missing out on the squad for the UAE tour and the current home series against India.
"Lancashire is a huge county with a fine history in the game, and I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to play for the Red Rose next year," he said in a statement on the club website.
"I'm determined to put in some match-winning contributions for the side and help Lancashire push for promotion."
Maxwell could glean an insight into the methods of England swing wizard Jimmy Anderson, a Lancashire stalwart who often turns out for his county in the early stages of the northern summer given he's become a Test specialist in recent years.
Limited-overs blaster Jos Buttler and Test opener Keaton Jennings also play for the club, as well as Tasmanian allrounder James Faulkner for the T20 competition.
Maxwell’s stint will also help get him acclimatised to Manchester’s Old Trafford ground, Lancashire's home, which is set to host Australia's final World Cup group-stage match on July 6, a semi-final three days later as well as the fourth Ashes Test in early September.
After opening the season with a four-day Division Two County Championship match at Lord's against Middlesex on April 11, Lancashire then play six 50-over games before the end of the month.
Australia's World Cup squad is set to assemble for a pre-tournament camp in early May.
Maxwell joins the likes of Cameron Bancroft (Durham), Shaun Marsh (Glamorgan), Peter Siddle (Essex), Daniel Worrall (Gloucestershire) and Callum Ferguson (Worcestershire) as Australians confirmed as county overseas signings for 2019.
Test opener and Australia's limited-overs captain Aaron Finch, who was recently let go by his franchise Kings XI Punjab, will also miss this year's IPL – the first time in a decade he's not taken part.
Pace stars Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc have also been released by their clubs, but Steve Smith, David Warner, Chris Lynn, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye and Marcus Stoinis have all been retained.
The availability of those retained players, all of whom are either locks or strong contenders for Australia's World Cup squad, will be significantly curtailed should they elect to play in the IPL.
The T20 tournament looks set to be staged earlier than usual due to the start of the ODI World Cup in late May, with reports suggesting it could begin as early as March 23.
Not only would that clash with a slated five-match ODI series between Australia and Pakistan, it would also overlap with the final round of the JLT Sheffield Shield season (which runs from March 20-23) and the Shield final (March 28 – April 1).
Cricket Australia has confirmed World Cup squad members won't be available for the back-end of the IPL, with players to prepare to defend the title they claimed on home soil in 2015.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India have confirmed the auction for the 2019 IPL will be held on December 18, with up to 70 players – 50 locals and 20 foreigners – to go under the hammer.
A further complication for this year's IPL are India's general elections, which could see at least part of the tournament moved to another country. The last two Indian election years – 2014 and 2009 – saw games moved to the UAE and South Africa respectively.