Victoria coach Chris Rogers says discussions with Glenn Maxwell regarding a rare Marsh Sheffield Shield stint in the coming weeks “are ongoing”, while Aaron Finch’s prospects of a return to red-ball cricket remain clouded despite him missing out on an Indian Premier League deal.
Riley Meredith is set to bolster Tasmania’s bowling stocks for their Marsh One-Day Cup match at the Junction Oval on Wednesday following a promising maiden international campaign in New Zealand, but Victoria’s white-ball stars Finch and Maxwell will not be there to face him.
It is still unclear if either will play in the Shield this season despite Maxwell recently reiterating his desire for a Test recall and Finch having no further international or IPL commitments for the coming months.
With Victoria looking to harness the talents of their youthful middle-order, Rogers said both Finch and Maxwell will initially take a deserved rest while there are also complications over getting them into Brisbane for next week’s Shield and Marsh Cup games against the Bulls.
Queensland’s borders are currently shut to New Zealand, from where Australia’s 18-man T20 squad only returned on Sunday.
Muddying the waters further is the fact Maxwell will be heading to the Indian Premier League that overlaps with the end of the Australian domestic season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore, Maxwell’s new team that bought him for A$2.52 million last month, kick off the IPL on April 9. After Victoria’s next Shield game at Allan Border Field from Monday, their final two matches begin March 25 and April 3, while the final is set for April 15.
Finch went unsold in the recent IPL auction.
“A little while ago I spoke to Glenn (about red-ball cricket). I know he still harbours ambition to play Test cricket, so we’ve got to think about how we can support that,” Rogers said after Victoria’s drawn Shield game with Tasmania at the MCG on Monday.
“I think Finchy’s probably a different scenario. He probably is a little bit realistic about where he sits, and then what we’re trying to do as a side, Victoria, and how we’re trying to develop our players as well.
“We’re trying to win, but we’re conscious too that this is the level down from the Australian cricket side, and we’re trying to develop players to get into that side.
“We’re trying to balance that up, and we’ve got a number of very talented young players that we’re continuing to stretch, and hopefully we can continue that.”
Rain ruins Victoria’s march to Shield victory
Finch, who last wore the Baggy Green in December 2018, conceded in January that a Test recall is likely beyond him and stressed that he doesn’t want to take the spot of a young batter in the Shield side.
Victoria currently have Matt Short, 25, and Jake Fraser-McGurk, 18, batting at four and five. Even if they dropped a bowler to play an extra batter, that could see Mitch Perry, 20, or Will Sutherland, 21, make way.
Maxwell, despite playing only four Shield games for Victoria over the past three seasons due mainly to international white-ball commitments, believes Australia’s tours to Asia next year could be his avenue back into the Test side.
“I’m still very much in the prime of my career. I’m only 32 and there’s still a fair bit in me,” said Maxwell, whose sole century from seven Tests came in Ranchi against India in 2017. “I’m not done and dusted there.
“There’s quite a few subcontinent tours (coming up) and I feel like I could certainly add something to that Test squad if I was selected. I’ll be certainly doing everything in my power to try and get on those tours.
“If I can somehow get some red-ball cricket at some stage, or some time in Asia to work on my game over there, hopefully that can be enough to get back in the Baggy Green.”
Rogers flagged that Victoria will field a decidedly younger side for Wednesday’s 50-over game against the Tigers.
Ben McDermott and Matthew Wade will not play for the visitors, while the likes of James Pattinson and even spinner Jon Holland are in line to be rested due to the jam-packed domestic schedule.
“We’re looking to play a youthful side,” said Rogers. “We know we’re playing three months’ worth of cricket in two months.
“We were always going to be aware that every bowler was going to be able to play every game. Even Jonny Holland’s back is pretty stiff at the moment, he’s bowled a lot.
“It’s on us to see how we can utilise a lot of the squad. If we look at the squad we’ve got a lot of young players.”