SCG Test a Perfect Time to Unleash Maxwell
It's a tough call on Nic Maddinson, however I would have no hesitation replacing him with Glenn Maxwell for the SCG Test against Pakistan starting on January 3. Maddinson looked better today in making 22, however missed out on a golden opportunity to seal his spot, and has left the door wide open for the selectors to replace him. Maxwell is the most explosive player in the country and the sort of multi dimensional cricketer Australia needs with a harrowing trial by spin tour to India on the horizon. Maxwell might have fallen out of favour somewhat of late, however I really think it is time to give him a prolonged run in the Test side at Number 6. David Warner was a raw, explosive, rough around the edges cricketer when Australia put faith in him in the Test team, and I have no doubt Maxwell can also become a fantastic Test cricketer. Talent wise I would have Maxwell on a similar category to Warner- their celling's are higher then most. Verinder Sehwag said to David Warner he would end up a better Test cricketer than an ODI cricketer, and I think Maxwell can be exactly that. Fields are more aggressive in Test cricket and there are more spaces for the likes of Maxwell to exploit.
With Australia's fast bowlers pushed to breaking point over the last few weeks, they desperately need a 5th bowler in Sydney and in the furnace that is a Test tour of India. For mine, Maxwell fits the bill to a tee - a second spinner who can take pressure off the pace attack and a mercurial batsman, capable of turning a game in a session. Maxwell has highly respectable First Class numbers, averaging right on 40.00 from 46 First Class games. That's a higher batting average than Nic Maddinson in less games, not even considering the fact Maxwell is a better fielder and bowler. There is no doubt Maxwell is somewhat of a rough diamond, and his axing from the ODI side and Victorian side for Shield matches this year shows he hasn't always responded well to adversity. However, his innings for the Melbourne Stars was one of pure class and his ceiling is extremely high the way I see it. Maxwell is the sort of player that opposition teams are going to be worried about, and his unorthodox game has the potential to put some heat on the Indian spinners in the furnace that is India next month. Maxwell showed in his brief Test crier that he is also capable of brain explosions, however at age 28 he is coming into the prime of his career. It's the perfect time to bring him back, and back him to the hilt. Australia seem desperate to find an all rounder to balance to the team, and he is sitting eight under noses.
O'Keefe Should Replace Nathan Lyon
This is probably a controversial opinion, however I think Nathan Lyon has hit a bit of a wall in his career and should be replaced by Steven O'Keefe at the SCG. I think if Glenn Maxwell comes into the side next week, Australia should balance that with the inclusion of local Steven O'Keefe to play on his home ground and the turn the ball in the opposite direction to Maxwell. Lyon has had a somewhat torrid summer, and his figures of 9 wickets for more than 600 runs in five Test matches are unflattering. Lyon has not bowled terrible however he looks a little jaded and it looks like Steve Smith's faith in him is not the same as previous captain Michael Clarke. Lyon has an outstanding overall record for an off spinner, with 219 wickets at 33 making him the most successful off spinner in Australia's history. No one can question what he has achieved over time, and it would be silly to write him off.
However I think his orthodox type bowling will struggle in India by some of India's high class right handers right handers like Kohli, Pujaja, and co. While Lyon has a very accomplished Test record lets pause for a record and look at both players overall First class record. Compare Lyon's First Class record of 333 wickets at 37 to Steven O'Keefe's First Class Record of 218 wickets at 23, and that is a fair discrepancy. Of course Lyon has played far more test cricket against far more challenging opponents however it's a far gap average wise. O'Keefe has had untimely injuries, and his three Test matches could have been many more had it not been for circumstances. He has a respectable 10 wickets at 35 in Test Cricket and I think is far more suited than Lyon to bowling in India, with the trajectory and angle of delivery far more likely to pin the Indians to their crease. Indian batsmen would enjoy hitting Lyon with the spin, and have no real worries about using their feet to him. O'Keefe's overall First Class economy rate of 2.52 compares favourably to Lyons' 3.16.
O'Keefe is quicker through the air and with his chest-on action, some of his deliveries grip, while others slide on more with the arm. Sometimes it's that natural sort of variation that can cause batsmen problems on spinning surfaces. I don't even know sometimes if O'Keefe knows which ones might slide and which ones might grip a bit in the surface. He's that sort of Rangana Herath type bowler who causes giant problems for a batsman in Asia. Left arm spinners are always challenge the stumps and really bring LBW's into play. Plus, if Maxwell is in the team, I don't think playing two orthodox off spinners is ideal. Having spinners of different varieties is much more appealing. It's a brave move and one that would be very harsh on Lyon. However I think it's a move that could improve the team in the short term at least.