Glenn Maxwell of Australia carries the drinks during the third ODI against New Zealand.
Glenn Maxwell of Australia carries the drinks during the third ODI against New Zealand. JULIAN SMITH

Ponting goes into bat for Maxwell

GLENN Maxwell hasn't played a Test in two years, has been dropped from Australia's one-day international XI and was benched by Victoria at the start of the Sheffield Shield season.

Despite all this, Maxwell is a must for the upcoming tour of India, according to Ricky Ponting.

Australia has not won a Test series - or a Test for that matter - in India since 2004 and Ponting believes the all-rounder could bring much-needed balance to the XI thanks to his right-arm finger-spin.

"I would take him in the squad, definitely,” Ponting said on Channel Ten during a Big Bash League clash between the Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes. "You need a batting spin bowler. There'll be other names mentioned, too, like Ashton Agar, I think his name will certainly come up.”

Maxwell's last Test was in October 2014 in the United Arab Emirates and all three of his Tests thus far have come in Asia.

Across those three matches he has failed to truly leave his mark, with his batting average sitting at 13.33 and his bowling average at 38.71.

Nevertheless, Ponting is confident Maxwell's bowling would be an asset in India, citing the development of Moeen Ali, who has taken 37 Test wickets for England this year.

"I think (Maxwell's bowling) is quite good, it's quite consistent. He's not an out-and-out Test first-choice spin bowler, but he is useful. Moeen Ali has developed into quite a good spinner now having played a couple of years for England.”

Weighing in the Victorian's favour is the fact he has a better first-class batting average (39.92) than current Test No.6 Nic Maddinson (36.64). Last summer he averaged a healthy 56 (392 runs across nine innings) in the Shield.

However, his numbers haven't been nearly as impressive this season, with the all-rounder's average sitting at 25.80. He has only passed 30 once in five innings.

It's been a tough year in cricket for the 28-year-old, who was named Australia's ODI player of the year in January, only to be dropped in June, with selectors calling for him to perform more consistently.

Before the start of the domestic season he made a failed attempt to switch states from Victoria to New South Wales and was left out of the Bushrangers' XI for the Sheffield Shield opener for "team balance” purposes. Earlier this month he was hit with a fine by Australia's leadership group for "disrespectful” comments about his Bushrangers captain Matthew Wade.

Ponting's co-commentator and former Australia teammate Andrew Symonds encouraged Maxwell to keep his head down and focus on cricket.

"He needs to make up his mind what he's doing,” Symonds said. "I don't know the man very well at all, but having the right people around you at a difficult time is key, so you're getting the right advice.

"Sometimes the freest I felt was when I was actually playing cricket. Sometimes that's the only (sanctuary) you can get.”

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