Former Australia batsman Dean Jones believes that Glenn Maxwell needs to find a mentor he can trust in order to make better decisions about what he says and also how he bats.
Left out of the Australia ODI team that defeated New Zealand in the first ODI in Sydney on Sunday, Maxwell has been fined and publicly criticised by the coach Darren Lehmann and captain Steven Smith for his frank words about batting behind Victoria captain Matthew Wade in the Bushrangers’ Sheffield Shield line-up.
Jones, no stranger to differences with officialdom, including his Australia coach Bob Simpson, stated that Maxwell’s struggles suggested a lack of good advice around him. He paralleled Maxwell with his earlier days when Jones’ father Barney – a stalwart of the Carlton Cricket Club – and Keith Stackpole, the former Australia opening batsman, served as confidantes.
“I think he really needs a mentor,” he said while launching Dean Jones’ Cricket Tips at the MCG. “I don’t want my sportsmen to come out of cookie moulds. I want them to have a personality and be able to say what they want, but I don’t think that was the right forum for him to do it. He’s got enough charisma in the way he plays. At the top of his game, he’s in our team, first pick, and I think he’s going to India.
“But the fact remains that I think he needs a mentor, whether that be Chris Rogers, or Michael Hussey or Mark Taylor or someone like that, who he could speak to and vent. I often did with Stacky or my dad, get it off your chest and then say ‘okay, this is what we need to do’.
“I don’t think you can be successful in international cricket without having someone you can speak honestly and candidly to. He’s a bit of a repeat offender and that’s hurting people. Now, is he worth working for? Yep, I think he is, he’s got a lot to offer. [R] Ashwin hates bowling to him, that’s a fact… but he needs to get some runs.”
Jones expressed his surprise at Maxwell’s absence from the team at the SCG, and questioned the wisdom of batting Mitchell Marsh as high as No. 5, above Travis Head. “I would’ve had him in,” he said. “I can’t for the life of me work out how Mitchell Marsh is batting at No. 5, are you telling me Travis Head’s not as good a batsman as [Marsh]? What Travis Head did was terrific, but he still lacks a bit of polish.”
Cricket’s economy now affords handsome wages to international cricketers as well as globetrotting Twenty20 specialists. Jones argued that this now meant players could be taking the opportunity to have their own personal coaches and mentors with them on tours around the world, thereby providing greater consistency of advice. That, in turn, could reduce the need for copious numbers of support staff on a tour.
“I’m starting to think now, they get paid so much money, are we getting like golf and tennis where I’d have had Stacky in my hip pocket on a contract and flying around wherever I need him?” Jones said. “The money’s there and it’s a tax deduction for the players.
“The selectors pick you because they like you as a player. Then, you go to a different coach, a different batting coach… how many coaches do they go through before they play for Australia? You want consistency in people around you to help get you where you want to go and protect you as much as you can. I think it’s going to get that way.
“Can I go to Darren Lehmann as coach and say ‘I can’t hit the ball off the square, I’m struggling’, well, do this, go do that. But then, he takes the coach’s hat off, puts the selector’s on and says, ‘can’t pick him because he’s struggling’. Is that the environment we want? It happened with me.”
Looking back at Maxwell’s ill-fated attempt to move from Victoria to New South Wales on the eve of the season, Jones said that it was symptomatic of a system where players were encouraged to think the pathway system – also criticised by former Test batsman Paul Sheahan in launching the book – was there purely to develop them. He wondered how much the current generation was encouraged to have a strong sense of affinity with any one team or state.
“What type of player do we want coming through our system?” Jones said. “We’re getting a system now where if you don’t play for Victoria, you’ll play for the CA XI, and you’re just creating a pathway for players worrying about themselves instead of worrying about their state cap.
“Guys move from the Stars to the Renegades to the Adelaide Strikers, because of a difference in their pay structure. We’re creating that environment to get players thinking that way instead of worrying about the team enough.” courtesy: Espncricinfo.com