GLENN Maxwell was persuaded not to make himself available for England by Hampshire director of cricket Giles White.
That is just one reason why he is determined to repay Hampshire during his second spell with the county, which begins with tonight’s T20 Blast match against Kent at The Ageas Bowl (6.30pm start).
Maxwell credits his breathtaking first spell with Hampshire, the catalyst for the county’s limited-overs double in 2012, for “kickstarting” his international career.
He made his Australia debut in both limited-overs formats within three months of his last domestic Hampshire appearance.
Maxwell’s Test debut, the highlight of his career so far, soon followed.
But he nearly denied himself a career with Australia by offering to play for Hampshire as a non-overseas player so he could also be available in the LV County Championship.
Maxwell qualified for England through his Plymouth-born dad Neil, who was in the Royal Navy before emigrating to Australia as a 19 year-old. “I was going to be an English player, I remember saying ‘I’m not going to play for Australia anytime soon!’ he said.
“That would have been it, my Baggy Green career over before it began. Chalks (Giles White) was the only one who talked me out of it! It’s incredible how things happen.”
Maxwell has since played two Tests, 24 one-day internationals and 21 T20 internationals and was one of the stars at this year’s Indian Premier League, where his 552 runs at 34.5 – at a spectacular strike rate of 187 per 100 balls – fired Kings XI Punjab to last Sunday’s final. But his affection for Hampshire has not dimmed, not even when he helped defeat them while playing for Surrey in last year’s semi-final at Edgbaston.
“It’s been an incredible last two years since Hampshire gave me an opportunity out of nowhere,” says the 25 year-old.
“My domestic form was a little bit iffy and they just took a chance on me. I feel I owe them a lot.”
Maxwell returns with “a greater awareness of my own game” and insists he will not feel the burden of expectation.
“I’m just looking forward to entertaining a few people, having a bit of fun with some old mates and enjoying myself,” he said.
Maxwell will also be playing for Hampshire in the LV County Championship when Kyle Abbott is unavailable, part of the deal with Cricket Australia, who see him as a future Test regular.
But he will be the big attraction in the T20 Blast and his inclusion in the squad for tonight’s clash, alongside Michael Carberry and Owais Shah, means some difficult decisions for captain James Vince.
Kent have won both their games and have included former Hampshire seamer David Griffiths in their squad, as well as England off-spinner James Tredwell.
Hampshire (from): Vince, Abbott, Adams, Bates, Briggs, Carberry, Coles, Ervine, Gatting, Maxwell, Shah, Smith, Wheater, Wood.