Melbourne Stars coach Stephen Fleming sees leadership potential in Glenn Maxwell and is looking forward to spending time with the mercurial all-rounder on the golf course in coming days.
After a tumultuous few months, Maxwell has joined Stars teammates ahead of the Big Bash League, travelling with the majority of the squad to Albury on Monday ahead of practice matches against Sydney Thunder on Tuesday.
Fleming, who captained New Zealand in a national record 80 Tests, said he was looking forward to again working with Maxwell, with whom he forged a strong working relationship last summer – Fleming’s first as Stars coach.
Fleming said he didn’t want to pigeonhole Maxwell as hard to manage. Rather, he suggested he could learn things from the at-times brilliant batsman, and that Maxwell had leadership qualities. “My relationship with Glenn is very strong,” Fleming told Fairfax Media.
“I enjoyed my time with him last season. We worked on some stuff away from the game just around the captaincy and leadership and other aspects, which I really enjoyed talking to him about.”
After winning Australia’s one-day player of the year award in January, Maxwell credited his rapport with Fleming for helping his growth as a cricketer.
Fleming said he relished the chance to discuss captaincy with the 28-year-old, who is touted as a possible inclusion for the upcoming Test tour of India. “Sometimes players who you don’t see as potential leaders are the ones who are most interested,” Fleming said.
“So that’s just one of the projects that we work on. And sometimes people surprise you about what some of their goals are. From my point of view it’s just understanding players, not boxing players into a certain category.”
Fleming did not rule out the prospect of Maxwell captaining a professional team in the future. “Maybe? Who knows? To me it’s about building leaders. It doesn’t matter whether they captain or whether they just lead themselves or lead others around them,” he said.
“Leadership isn’t just, we’ve got to groom them to be captain. Leadership is about how Glenn is perceived, what he works on, on and off the field, and what he wants to become.
“The workings of it can be quite interesting, both ways. And even for me to learn off Glenn, the way he goes about his cricket, is a lot different to how I played and how a lot of my contemporaries played.
“So it’s not just one-way traffic either. There’s a leadership aspect that we’ve been able to feed off.”
While they are yet to taste ultimate success, the Stars have made the top four in every BBL season to date, and have managed to fit divisive English superstar Kevin Pietersen comfortably into the side. The Stars generally feel that Maxwell is happy while with them, and Fleming agreed. “When he’s been with the Stars – certainly during my involvement – he’s been very good.”
The BBL window looms as somewhat of a sanctuary for Maxwell, who has endured a turbulent season with both Victoria and Australia.
Having unsuccessfully sought a move to NSW in the off-season, the all-rounder was overlooked for the Bushrangers’ first Sheffield Shield match of the season. He was eventually recalled, but consistently batted below wicketkeeper and captain Matthew Wade.
When both were picked for Australia’s recent ODI series against NZ, Maxwell sensationally criticised Wade for placing himself above Maxwell in the batting order, suggesting it made Maxwell’s quest to return to Australia’s Test team more difficult.
Maxwell was subsequently fined by the Australian team leadership over the comments, and left out of the Australian XI for all three matches against the Black Caps.