Australia coach Justin Langer admitted the form of Glenn Maxwell was a worry ahead of a one-day series against England but said he hoped Ricky Ponting’s arrival into his backroom staff would be a boost to the talented ball-striker. Former Australia captain Ponting will combine his work as a commentator on the upcoming five-match one-day international campaign with stints working alongside Langer.
Maxwell was twice dismissed in single figures by spinners during Australia’s warm-up matches against Sussex and Middlesex. Ponting was also Maxwell’s coach at the Delhi Daredevils during this year’s Indian Premier League Twenty20. But despite having one of Australia greatest batsmen in his corner, the 29-year-old Maxwell managed just 169 runs in 12 IPL innings at an average of 14.
The Daredevils fared little better, finishing bottom of the points table following five wins in 14 games. But there is no denying the ability of Maxwell, who has an ODI strike-rate of 123.
Asked, following Australia’s 101-run win over Middlesex at Lord’s on Saturday, if Maxwell was a worry, Langer answered: “He is. But that said I have been super impressed with Glenn Maxwell, his preparation has been literally outstanding. I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get a very big score very soon. There’s been a lot of talk about Glenn Maxwell but I have been incredibly impressed with the way he goes about his business and even the way he has been batting in the nets.”
Langer, appointed after fellow former Test batsman Darren Lehmann resigned as coach following the Australian ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March, was sure Maxwell would eventually benefit from spending so much time with Ponting.
“He has just had a couple of months with ‘Punter’ (Ponting) in the IPL, to have the influence of someone like Punter is gold. ‘Punter’ is joining us again tomorrow (Sunday), so if he (Maxwell) keeps preparing well and keeps trusting his preparation it is not far until he becomes an absolute star, I think. He’s got so much talent,” said Langer.
World champions Australia won their warm-up fixtures but failed to post a total of 300 when batting first in both games – a concern head of a series with 2019 World Cup hosts England that starts at The Oval on Wednesday.
Australia will want to atone for a 4-1 series loss at home to England, now number one in the ODI rankings, earlier this year.
But as well as being without two world-class batsmen in former captain Steve Smith and his deputy, David Warner, who both received year-long bans following the ball-tampering incident in Cape Town, Australia are also missing their injured Ashes-winning fast-bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
As a result, it will be a novice pace attack that confronts England, with Kane Richardson (15 ODIs) likely to be spearheading a bowling unit where Andrew Tye (four), Billy Stanlake (two), Jhye Richardson (one) and the uncapped Michael Neser will be vying for places.
Langer said Queensland’s Neser, who moved with his family to the Gold Coast from his native South Africa aged 10, should not be discounted just because he was summoned as Hazlewood’s replacement on the eve of a tour that also includes a lone Twenty20 international.
The 28-year-old Neser took three wickets in the two warm-up matches including a stunning reflex caught and bowled against Middlesex. “One I am really impressed with is Michael Neser,” said Langer.
Neser also played a key role as the Adelaide Strikers won last year’s edition of Australia’s Bash Twenty20 tournament and was Queensland’s leading wicket-taker in the domestic One-Day Cup. The coach added that Neser’s determined attitude made him think of two other former Queensland pacemen who had to battle hard to be selected for Australia.
“He reminds me a bit of Andy Bichel and Michael Kasprowicz. They’re just great people in the team, always smiling, and they just compete. He’s a really good person to have in the team, good competitor and could easily play in the first game.”