After being omitted from the squad, national captain Steve Smith gave a blunt assessment as to why Maxwell was axed.
“Just looking at the way he trains, I think he could train a little bit smarter,” Smith said. “We’ve all seen the way he can come out and play and do all his funky stuff and be pretty cool with that, but when he puts his head down he’s actually a really good batsman, as we’ve seen in Shield cricket – he’s got some big runs there.”
Australia’s newest T20 assistant coach, Ponting, said Maxwell is the best candidate to join the squad, saying he doesn’t believe there’s anyone better-suited to the position available.
“I would put him back into the squad,” Ponting said in Network Ten commentary. “There was a lot made when he was left out, the chairman of selectors and Steve Smith laid it on the line pretty clearly what they wanted to see from him.
“That was along the lines of ‘train better and train smarter’ and I think Trevor Hohns said something about playing a bit smarter as well.
“So you would like to think he has listened to all that – he knows what he has to do now when he goes back into that squad.
“An opportunity has presented itself earlier than what Maxwell might have thought, if they actually go ahead and pick him.
“And as far as I’m concerned I don’t think there’s a better middle-order batsman than him to take that spot.
“If you think about the current team, Steve Smith will bat at three, Travis Head at four, Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh or (Marcus) Stoinis in that five-six sort of area.
“So as long as he’s learnt his lesson and listened to what those people have had to say, absolutely I think he can go back to international cricket and dominate.”
Maxwell responded to Ponting’s comments after making an impressive 60 off 39 balls in Melbourne Stars’ loss to Adelaide on Tuesday night, ironically whilst playing a number of audacious shots which impressed the crowd.
“I certainly have hunger to get back in there, but my main job right now is to score runs for the Melbourne Stars and I’m trying to do that at the moment,” the 29-year-old said.
“(Ponting is) an absolute legend, one of my childhood idols and someone I’ve always looked up to. So it’s great to hear him supporting me.”