Glenn Maxwell left out of Victorian Bushrangers XI for Sheffield Shield opener

STUMPS ON DAY ONE: VICTORIA 4-351
Nanjing Night Net

Having been denied a move to NSW during the winter, Glenn Maxwell was left shocked on Tuesday after his hopes of a Test recall took a major hit following his omission from the Victorian XI for their Sheffield Shield opener against Tasmania at the MCG.

The Bushrangers were rarely troubled in his absence though, with West Australian recruit Marcus Harris marking his first Shield appearance with his new state with a century as Victoria cruised to 4-351 at stumps on day one.

Maxwell, 28, sought a move to NSW during the off-season but had his request knocked back by the Bushrangers after an administrative bungle in which he requested his transfer after the window for Cricket Australia-contracted players had closed. The mercurial all-rounder was dumped from the national one-day side earlier this year, at which time national selection chairman Rod Marsh urged him to make a compelling case for a return by making runs aplenty for his state. But that task was made impossible – at least for now – when Victoria named their side for the clash with the Tigers, with Maxwell picked as 12th man.

Maxwell – who averaged 56 in the Shield for the Bushrangers last summer – was overlooked even after a sore neck incurred by fellow all-rounder Marcus Stoinis in the warm-up, with Daniel Christian drafted into the XI despite missing the initial 12-man squad. It’s understood Maxwell was taken aback by the news.

Victorian coach and selector Andrew McDonald defended Maxwell’s omission. “It’s just a matter of balance,” McDonald said. “There will be some unlucky players.”

While Maxwell was likely to struggle to play a home Test this summer, his reputation as a good player of spin, as well as a useful off-spinner and skilful fielder meant he had been touted as an option for the Test tour of India early next year.

Maxwell’s non-selection overshadowed the start of a match in which quicks Jackson Bird (Tasmania) and Peter Siddle (Victoria) are seeking to impress on-duty national selector Mark Waugh before Australia’s squad for the first Test against South Africa is picked later this week.

Tasmania won the toss and chose to bowl, with Bird taking the new ball for his side. He was typically tidy (1-53 off 22 overs) and was rewarded for his toil when he had Aaron Finch caught behind for 17 on the stroke of dinner. But it was Harris who stole the show, briskly making his fifth first-class ton and repaying Victoria’s decision to pluck him from WA, where his output was middling across 42 first-class matches. Harris was eventually dismissed for 115, after edging spinner Beau Webster to first slip. Test batting aspirant Peter Handscomb also started his red-ball campaign in fine fettle, getting to 78 before lobbing the ball to backward point where he was caught after misjudging an Andrew Fekete bouncer. However, Matthew Wade (56 not out) and Cameron White (50 not out) refused to allow the Tigers a look at Victoria’s tail. The early Victorian wicket to fall was opener Travis Dean, who was bowled by spinner Cameron Boyce after making a scratchy 26.

Harris said the pink-ball – first used in the Shield three summers ago – had become easier to see over the last two Australian seasons.

“It’s been good,” Harris said after play.

“It didn’t swing in the first five or six overs and then the lacquer came of it a little and it swung a bit, and then the seams went soft and the air went out of it a bit.

“But it’s been all good otherwise.

“It’s still sort of tough sitting in the viewing room watching it. When you’re playing it’s sort of OK, but yeah it’s definitely improved.”

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