White-ball wizard Glenn Maxwell is eyeing a shock return to the Sheffield Shield next week, despite the door back to the baggy green being all but shut by his broken leg.
The mercurial all-rounder is nearing a comeback to competitive cricket, and though it will almost certainly come too late for him to be ready for the Tests against India, he is gearing himself to be match-hardened for the three One-Day Internationals at the end of that tour which are vital leading into the World Cup later this year.
Victorian cricket officials consider the next round of the Shield, starting Thursday week, as a realistic aim for Maxwell, but his fitness will be closely monitored after his gruesome injury, following which he said he needed to relearn how to walk.
Though Maxwell has resumed batting in the nets, his ability to confidently slide and dive in the field will be a key factor in when he is cleared for a return to topline cricket.
Maxwell, who has not played a first-class game since October 2019, is only a minute chance of getting a call-up for the series in India, even if head selector George Bailey has said changes can be made mid-tour if required.
He would require a dramatic form slump or injuries from a member of the middle order to come into consideration for a call-up, not to mention impressing with bat and ball himself for the Vics. Squad members Peter Handscomb and Matthew Renshaw are ahead of him and both have the advantage of match practice, and have runs on the board in India.
While spinners Adam Zampa and Matthew Kuhnemann have been told they’re on standby for India, Maxwell has received no such indication from selectors.
Having been called up on standby for Travis Head in Sri Lanka last year, Maxwell was in selectors’ plans for India before his untimely injury and had been a genuine chance of playing if the South Australian cannot find a solution to his woes against spin in Asia.