GLENN MAXWELL believes the Australian public would be pleased for Jason Gillespie if he was appointed England coach and said that the prospect of Gillespie going head-to-head with Darren Lehmann in the Ashes series this summer was “pretty special”.
Maxwell, the Australian all-rounder who has joined Yorkshire as an overseas player, said his fellow countrymen would wish Gillespie well if the former Australia fast bowler took charge of arch rivals England.
Gillespie is favourite to get the job after Peter Moores was sacked, and the Yorkshire first-team coach is understood to have had preliminary talks with England’s new director of cricket Andrew Strauss.
Gillespie is expected to take the job even though Strauss has ruled out a return for star batsman Kevin Pietersen and appointed Alastair Cook as captain for the whole summer, decisions with which Gillespie is unlikely to be comfortable.
However, Gillespie will be given assurances that he will have full control of team affairs going forward, and he remains the overwhelming favourite for the role despite being happy in his “dream job” with Yorkshire and the Big Bash League franchise Adelaide Strikers.
It raises the likelihood of an Ashes showdown between Gillespie and his close friend and former team-mate Darren Lehmann, the Australia coach who enjoys legendary status in Yorkshire after his successful stints as an overseas player.
Maxwell, who revealed that he joined Yorkshire after talking to Lehmann and, principally, the Yorkshire and Australia batsman Aaron Finch, said the new England coach would have a lot on his plate.
But he insisted there would be plenty of support among Australians for Gillespie if he takes on the challenge, with Justin Langer having yesterday ruled himself out of the running by signing a two-year contract extension with Western Australia.
“I think they would just be happy for him (Gillespie),” said Maxwell, who will make his Yorkshire debut in Friday’s NatWest T20 Blast match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. “I think they would just be pleased for him.
“They’ve always supported their former players, and Diz (Gillespie) is a legend of the game. I think they would just wish him well and obviously look forward to our players coming up against him this summer.
“To have two Yorkshire legends coming up against each other (Gillespie and Lehmann) would make the Ashes even better. I think that would be pretty special.
“I don’t know the ins-and-outs of what’s going on in English cricket – I read a lot of the stuff in the papers and sort of laugh to myself, and I’m pretty happy that it’s not my country going through that sort of stuff.
“It’s not my place to talk about it, but whoever it is (the new England coach), I’m sure they’ll have their hands full.”
Maxwell, who has been signed primarily for T20, but who will also play County Championship cricket until first-choice overseas star Finch arrives in early June, predicts the Ashes will be tight. Australia are favourites to back up their 2013-14 triumph when the re-match starts on July 8.
“I think the Ashes is going to be a lot closer than everyone thinks,” said Maxwell.
“The England top-order at the moment are in great form, and if you look at the Yorkshire boys, Root and Ballance, they’re absolutely smashing it.
“It’s still in England’s backyard, and it’s always tough to win over here. I think it will be a very entertaining series.”
Maxwell, 26, said his biggest ambition is to get back into Australia’s Test side.
The former Hampshire man has played only 31 first-class games, but he has a better first-class average (40) than he does List A (37) and T20 (21).
“I definitely have ambitions to force my way back into the Test team,” said Maxwell, who made the last of his three Test appearances against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last November.
“That’s currently my main goal this summer in England, and there’s a Bangladesh Test tour after the Ashes that I’ll be eyeing and hopefully I can get myself on that.
“I want to show that I’m a three-dimensional player, and that I can play the longer form of the game. If you look at my four-day record, it’s far better than my one-day or T20 record.”
Maxwell believes he has been unfairly pigeonholed as a limited-overs player having played only four first-class games in the past 15 months.
“I haven’t had a lot of time in the middle to work on my game in the longer form, and the schedule is a problem,” he said.
“I’ve only played something like one innings in eight months in red-ball cricket, and if you don’t get the opportunities, I’m not sure how you can be pigeonholed like that.”