BRISBANE: Glenn Maxwell has been praised for his “courage” after opting to step away from the game due to mental health reasons. He confided in Australia men’s head coach Justin Langer before the opening game of the ongoing T20I series against Sri Lanka, in Adelaide, that he was struggling, with Langer saying there were times over the last 12 months when he thought things might not be quite right for him.
No timeframe has yet been put on Maxwell’s spell away, but he will certainly miss the rest of the T20I matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. He will have further assessments with the Cricket Australia doctors and psychologist over the coming days, with his proactivity in seeking out help being praised.
Maxwell played the opening two matches of the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, hitting 62 off 28 balls in the first fixture in Adelaide and not getting a chance to have a hit in the second, in Brisbane. It was during training on the eve of the first T20I that Langer pressed Maxwell on his well-being, and discussions had begun before the team members were informed about the matter at the conclusion of the game in Brisbane.
“There’s been a few times over the last 12 months where I’ve suspected that he was probably battling a little bit, but mainly in Adelaide last week before the first game,” Langer said. “A few little things just weren’t quite adding up. I just asked how he was going and he said, ‘No, I’m not going that well actually’. I’m pleased he feels he has got that trust in the environment to be able to do that and he has got to do some work now to get himself right.”
Langer said that Maxwell was “not having that much fun at the moment” and that his upbeat outward persona, which had been on show during the first two matches, including when on mic for the host broadcaster, were a “mask”.
“It took great courage to tell us that he wasn’t okay,” Langer said. “Behind the mask of the great entertainer and the great talent and the great team man and everything we see publicly – a lot of these guys, they are human and they are hurting a bit. Hopefully, he’ll be fine.
“Even though in Adelaide he had that brilliant innings and he fielded like a genius like he can, I don’t think he got much joy out of it to be honest and that’s not much fun. Not just doing to win games of cricket, you have to have fun while you do it. He’s probably not having as much fun as he would have liked at the moment, even though he had a smile on his face when he played.
“That’s the mask he puts on; it’s his armour, his energy and the way he plays. He is the great entertainer but underneath the mask – you probably just sense it. When you build relationships with people, you sense when they’re not quite right.”
Maxwell has played and travelled extensively over the last 12 months including stints in county cricket either side of the World Cup on the back of the last Australia summer and tours to India and the UAE.
“I think just mentally and physically it’s exhausting and we’ve always got to try and find the balance,” Langer said. “That’s part of the world we live in now and I’m sure that’s a part of how he’s feeling.”
Team psychologist Dr Michael Lloyd said, “Glenn Maxwell has been experiencing some difficulties with regards to his mental health. As a result, he will spend a short time away from the game. Glenn was proactive in identifying these issues and engaging with the support staff.”
Ben Oliver, the executive general manager of the national teams, said: “The well-being of our players and staff is paramount. Glenn has our full support. Cricket Australia will work collaboratively with Cricket Victoria’s support staff to ensure Glenn’s well-being and his reintegration into the game.
“We ask that everyone gives Glenn and his family and friends space; and respects their privacy at this time. He is a special player and an important part of the Australian cricket family. We hope to see him back in the team during the summer. It’s important we look after Glenn and all our players.”
D’Arcy Short has been called up as a replacement and will join the squad on Friday ahead of the final T20I against Sri Lanka, at the MCG. Australia then face Pakistan in three T20Is starting on Sunday in Sydney.