Glenn Maxwell could face a nervous wait to see whether there is a place for him at the start of the one-day series against England after his second failure in three days. He was the only one of the Australians’ top order not to make a start against Middlesex at Lord’s as Travis Head’s century anchored the innings before the home side’s chase faded away.
Maxwell was lbw sweeping at left-arm spinner Ravi Patel as Middlesex’s trio of spinners did an excellent job – none more so than 20-year-old Max Holden who bowled his 10 overs for 29 – in throttling the Australians’ innings in a similar manner to how Sussex fought back a couple of days ago. On that occasion, Maxwell drove the part-time legspin of Luke Wells to mid-off for 1 and his lack of runs in England follow on from a lean IPL.
The Australians shuffled their batting order for this outing with Head promoted to open – back to the position where he finished the previous series against England – Aaron Finch slipping down to the middle and Shaun Marsh replacing Marcus Stoinis at No. 3, after Stoinis showed his form with a century against Sussex.
Billy Stanlake was also brought in and his height added another dimension to the attack. He did George Scott for pace, the middle stump sent flying back towards the wicketkeeper, and had Holden caught at midwicket off a short delivery for a superbly constructed run-a-ball 71 which highlighted the promise so many around Middlesex talk of.
After D’arcy Short had briefly cut loose, before falling to a brilliant catch at midwicket by Nathan Sowter, Head and Marsh added 114 for the second wicket although progress became sluggish against spin with timing difficult on a slightly two-paced surface.
Holden, a former England Under-19 captain playing just his fifth List A match, broke the stand in his final over for a deserved scalp when Marsh chipped to midwicket. He conceded just one boundary in his 10 overs, and bowled an unchanged spell from the Nursery End, generally bowling the ball hard into the surface with the occasional one straightening on the left-handers.
After Maxwell came and went, Head formed another substantial stand of 89 with Finch. Head reached a carefully compiled hundred from 133 deliveries before edging a cut off the legspin of Sowter. Finch clubbed three sixes in his 54 off 52 balls to continue his productive start to the trip, but overall it was a rather old-school one-day innings from the Australians.
“We were a bit slow, they bowled quite well so credit to them,” Head said. “They made it challenging for myself and Shaun. We’ve definitely talked about ways that we can keep improving. I didn’t score as quickly as I would have liked through the middle overs but I was able to stay out there and build a partnership with Shaun and then Aaron to give ourselves a chance at the end to push the run-rate up which we were able to and get a winning score.
“I enjoyed getting back up the order, getting out there and getting a hit. I felt like I’ve been in good form. I haven’t got the runs I would have liked in the early part of the season for Worcester but it’s nice to get out here with the boys and perform.”