Hodge insists Maxwell can play Ashes ‘savior’

Former n batsman Brad Hodge has declared that a composed Glenn Maxwell has the ability to resuscitate an n innings gone wrong should he be selected for next week’s Ashes opener in Brisbane.
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Maxwell’s hopes of facing England as a No.6 batsman appear all but over after he failed to deliver the big first-innings score he needed in the latest round of the Sheffield Shield while still adjusting to a new role at No.3.

The national selectors, led by chairman Trevor Hohns, are set to pick the n squad on Wednesday – and have several decisions to confirm.

Western n Cameron Bancroft, fresh from twin half-centuries against a Test-quality NSW attack last week and a double century against South on Tuesday, has surged into contention for the vacant No.6 slot. Fellow Warriors Shaun Marsh, Hilton Cartwright and allrounder Marcus Stoinis, the latter because of his ability to provide medium pace, are also firmly in the frame.

Maxwell has played all seven of his Tests abroad where he has 339 runs at 26.07, although he delivered a breakthrough century against India in Ranchi this year.

Hodge, who knows all about the pressure associated with battling for a Test berth, said fellow Victorian Maxwell deserved first shot against the tourists.

“Being a Melburnian, I would like to see Glenn Maxwell in there. He has earned the opportunity from being in that side before. There are a few candidates – no one has jumped out of their skin to try and take that position. Runs have been fairly scarce for a few people,” he said.

Hodge, restricted to only six Tests in a golden era of n cricket despite averaging 55.88, including an unbeaten double century against South Africa, insists Maxwell has the technique to handle an attack led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad – England’s two greatest Test wicket-takers of all time.

“I think at No.6 he does. We have seen him bat out of position in this game, batting at No.3 for Victoria. It’s a very different thing to walk through a cricket ground and be ready to play in the first 15 minutes of the game than sitting there and watching the game unfold,” Hodge said.

“I definitely think he has the technique for coming in at 4-100 when is under pressure. That’s the one thing people need to clarify – it’s not coming in at 4-270 when you are already in front. It’s coming in when you are under pressure. That is one of the things the selectors will probably look at.”

Maxwell recently detailed how he had tinkered with his technique, having felt he had become too low in his stance and had lost power, having spent significant time on the subcontinent. He also insists he no longer is an X-factor, preferring to be rated for playing long innings.

It’s understood the national selectors are more than mindful of the need for having a No.6 capable of restoring order, having not forgotten how Brad Haddin, at No.7, was able to revive fortunes against England four years ago after top-order failures.

Test great Shane Warne has also called for Maxwell to retain his spot but former n captain Ricky Ponting believes the selectors will go with Cartwright, citing the fact he played in ‘s last Test on home soil, against Pakistan at the SCG.

Hodge batted only once at No.6 in his 11 Test innings, spending the majority of his time at No.4. He said it was a different climate now when it came to waiting to bat.

“When I played there, I just watched [Justin] Langer and [Matthew] Hayden and Ponting and Michael Clarke and [Damien] Martyn bat for about five-and-a-half hours before I got my chance. It’s a little bit different at the moment. We are seeing some wickets fall around the country. People are under pressure when they are batting,” he said.

Hodge, 42, will return to the Melbourne Renegades this summer for the seventh season of the Big Bash League. Fairfax Media reported in August that Hodge was all but certain to return to the franchise where he spent year one of the BBL, before crossing to the Melbourne Stars.

He left the Stars in February, 2014 for the Adelaide Strikers, where he was captain and arguably the team’s best player. However, in an ugly ending to his time there, where he was also an assistant coach, he was told immediately after the Strikers’ final match last summer he was not assured of a contract extension. Hodge interpreted that as a sacking.

The Victorian great has yet to be given a clear reason why he was dumped but said he was “pretty comfortable with that – I am pretty happy coming home”.

He will again have an important role to play with the bat while also helping coach Andrew McDonald usher through young talent. He is also a co-coach of the Bushrangers’ Futures League side.

“My role at Adelaide was probably going to be similar here where you want to drive the youngsters forward and continue to grow. I think I had a fairly big impact with some youngsters over there – Alex Ross, Travis Head – those players really came on and professionally did well at Twenty20. My role was important there. I will continue to try and do the same thing here [with the Renegades],” he said. iFrameResize({checkOrigin:false},’#ashes-squad-selector-2017′);var frame = document.getElementById(“ashes-squad-selector-2017”);

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