Former pacer Mitchell Johnson’s choice of Australian captain for the World Cup would, by his own admission, “raise eyebrows.” In a squad that he picked for Perth Now, Johnson said that he would like Glenn Maxwell to be chosen as captain of the side in the 12th edition of ICC’s flagship tournament that starts May 30.
“My decision to pick Glenn Maxwell as captain might raise eyebrows,” wrote Johnson. “But having played with him both for Australia and in the Indian Premier League, I can say that this polarising cricketer is misunderstood.”
Maxwell leads Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League and has led Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2017. It was a difficult season for them with the team’s head of cricket operations Virender Sehwag lambasting Maxwell after a match against Rising Pune Supergiant in which they were skittled out for 73.
He was made captain of the Stars this season. “He might not be your typical first-choice captain, though clearly Melbourne Stars have seen something in Maxwell. Leadership has helped him mature, helped to settle him and bring the best out of him,” said Johnson.
“I think we need our sportsmen to have a certain presence and have the confidence to give their opinion in a team environment and he definitely does that.
“More importantly, Maxwell is a cricket tragic who loves the game and thinks deeply about it. I spent a lot of time with Maxwell in the IPL at both Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab and he was always very vocal in team meetings … particularly with planning such as fielding positions for certain players. He knows opposition players very well and he doesn’t forget much. He reads the game well and that’s essential for a captain,” said the former pacer. “Maxi is not a leader who will just let things roll on, either. He thinks outside the square. He is 30 now and knows the game inside out.”
Glenn Maxwell batted at number seven during Australia’s ODI series against India and scored 85 runs, earning support from coach Justin Langer.
Johnson has also recommended choosing Jhye Richardson over Josh Hazlewood and Peter Handscomb behind the stumps over current incumbent and vice-captain Alex Carey. “Hazlewood hasn’t played a lot of one-day cricket in recent times and I decided the five quicks I selected provided the best balance,” he continued. “I’ve made another big call with the wicketkeeping position and opted to overlook incumbent gloveman and vice-captain Alex Carey. Carey is an excellent ‘keeper, however, I remain unconvinced about his batting. He has been opening the batting, but that will not be required should Warner be picked after his 12-month suspension,” he said.