Glenn Maxwell’s hopes of a last-minute Ashes call-up may have been washed away in the Melbourne rain with Victoria and Tasmania fighting out a Sheffield Shield draw.
Chasing 453 to win, the Bushrangers were 5-106 when play was abandoned due to bad light with 12 overs remaining on Thursday’s rain-disrupted final day at the MCG.
Just 24 overs were bowled for the day with persistent showers delaying any action until after tea.
Maxwell resumed on 20 and was 45 not out when the players left the ground.
With a succession of partners including Test batsman Peter Handscomb (13) falling cheaply around him, Maxwell showed plenty of resolve as Victoria looked to grind out a draw.
But it appears likely it will be too late to count towards his chances of batting at No.6 in the Ashes.
Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Hilton Cartwright were thought to be preferred No.6 options after national selectors met in Brisbane to pick the side for the first two Ashes Tests.
“I have no idea what direction they’re going to go in,” Maxwell said on Wednesday evening.
“We’ve obviously seen Cameron Bancroft perform extremely well over in the west and a few guys put their hands up … I think that’s what (selectors) asked for but who knows what they’re going to do?”
Maxwell has the advantage of incumbency, the backing of several former greats and a recent Test century to his name.
But it is increasingly difficult to see how selectors can overlook Bancroft, who continued a barnstorming Shield campaign with 228 not out earlier in the week for Western Australia.
With selectors appearing likely to back Test opener Matt Renshaw despite poor recent form in domestic cricket, the No.6 spot is where Bancroft will most likely slot in.
Victorian skipper Handscomb said Maxwell’s innings on Thursday showed he was ready for an Ashes call-up.
“He came out today and did exactly what the team required, played beautifully, put his shots away when needed and played them when he thought it was appropriate,” Handscomb said.
“Hopefully for him and hopefully for us, he is picked in the first Test and I’ve got no doubt he’ll do a great job if he is.”
Time proved to be Maxwell’s enemy on Wednesday as Alex Doolan (247no) and Tim Paine (71no) set the foundations for what could have been a towering first win of the Shield season.
Doolan spent almost nine hours at the crease on the way to his highest first-class score as Tasmania declared at 2-424.