Australia v Sri Lanka series 2022, Glenn Maxwell v Travis Head, selection, injury

A new documentary gives a raw insight into just how close Glenn Maxwell got to reigniting his Test career in Sri Lanka last year — and the shattering impact of again being shunned.

Maxwell describes his Test career as “frustrating” in the second series of The Testlamenting a blotchy run that had yielded only seven appearances in nine years.

A hamstring injury suffered by Travis Head in a one-day match in Sri Lanka led to Australia’s selectors keeping Maxwell on the tour, sparking hope that he could be on the brink of playing his first Test since 2017.

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Maxwell, who’d come to grips with the crushing likelihood of never playing Test cricket again, says he “cried happy tears” when told by coach Andrew McDonald that he’d be staying in Sri Lanka as cover for Head.

But that triggered a painful wait.

Would Head’s hamstring fail him, allowing Maxwell to don the baggy green again?

Or would Head deny the astronomically talented Maxwell the chance to resurrect his fledgling Test career?

The documentary features a selection meeting, Maxwell unpacking his racing thoughts as he plays simulated golf in the team’s hotel, the mental health break he took in 2019 and Head’s fitness test a day before the first Test.

In a jolting insight into the toxic psychology elite sportspeople can encounter, Maxwell notes that while he was batting in the nets as Head underwent his fitness test nearby, he was looking out for a limp in his teammate’s gait.

Receiving the news that he wouldn’t be making his Test comeback was “heartbreaking”, Maxwell says in the documentary.

”As I said, they made the right selection call, 100 per cent, but to sort of just let yourself believe that after five years you are about to play another Test for your country … I let myself start to think of the fairytale. (I was thinking), ‘It’s going to be awesome’, and it just got taken away,” Maxwell says.

“It hurts, but I will be giving it every last dying breath to try and play another one. And who knows?

“I was actually quite comfortable (with the thought of not playing another Test). (I thought), ‘You know what? Test cricket’s done. Guys in there are doing a good job’.

“And then you get a bit of hope.

“I think I had come to grips with those emotions.

“I think the fact that there’s still that little bit of unknown with the fitness test tomorrow … (I was thinking), ‘Yeah, he’s probably going to get through it. He’s going to be fine. Wallow in self-pity’ .”

The documentary captures Maxwell batting in the nets as Head does run-throughs, before Australia’s first-choice No.5 has his speed tested when running between the wickets.

“It’s horrible because you’re concentrating on your net session and you can see him doing the sprints,” Maxwell says.

“You’re looking for a limp. (You’re thinking), ‘How’s he going? Is he all right?’.

“Everyone knows what’s going on, everyone knows why I’m there.”

Mulling over his axing in 2017 despite having made a Test century in India, Maxwell says he was “binned off pretty quickly”.

“That was pretty hard to take,” he says.

“Really hard to take.”

Head, Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh are among those who’ve beaten Maxwell to Test selection since he was dropped in 2017.

He took a break from cricket after the 2019 World Cup in the United Kingdom, stepping away for more than a month after mental health took its toll.

“I always used to hold in my emotions and hold in information (about) what was going on in my life. I hated being public all the time, I hated being in the limelight, so I just tried to basically fake everything I did, Maxwell says in The Test.

“In 2019, I went through depression and took time off from the game. That was on the back of 18 long months of trying to do everything right by everyone else. It just basically just drained me, just wore me down, and I was basically just a shell of myself.

“When I put my hand up and said I was struggling … if I had have let it go a couple of weeks later, who knows where I would have been? That could have been the end. I would have had enough and walked away and that would have been it.

“One of the big things I changed after 2019 was any time I had something just niggling me or on my mind, I’d get someone into my room — any player, coach, whatever it is — or go meet someone somewhere and just have a chat. And as soon as you actually get those words out and you’re not sort of holding them in, it can be just a relief off your shoulders.”

Maxwell indicated on Fox Cricket’s Big Bash League coverage on Tuesday night that he hadn’t given up on playing Test cricket again.

The 34-year-old is still recovering from a broken leg suffered in a freak accident at a friend’s 50th birthday party in Novemberbut he said he was hopeful of making the cut for Australia’s Test tour of India across February and March.

Unfortunately for the Victorians, an 18-man squad was released on Wednesday and Maxwell wasn’t named.

Whether that news rocked him as hard as the news he copped in Sri Lanka is something only he, and possibly those close to him, would know.

But the heartache felt in Sri Lanka was immense, as depicted in compelling detail by The Test.

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