October 31, 2019 / 5:29 AM / 22 days ago

Australia's Maxwell battling mental health problems, takes break

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is taking an indefinite break from cricket with immediate effect as he undergoes treatment for mental health issues, coach Justin Langer said.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup Semi Final - Australia v England - Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain - July 11, 2019 Australia's Glenn Maxwell Reuters/Andrew Boyers/File Photo

Maxwell, who played in Australia’s two T20 wins against Sri Lanka in recent days and starred in the Adelaide series-opener, will be replaced by batsman D’Arcy Short for the third and final match in Melbourne on Friday.

Langer said he had spoken to Maxwell after sensing something was amiss with the hard-hitting 31-year-old before the Adelaide game, Australia’s first international of the home summer.

“I’m not sure what prompted (it) just before Adelaide,” Langer told reporters in Melbourne.

“But you just could tell it was not quite right and he probably wasn’t going to say (anything).

“Even though in Adelaide he had that incredible innings and fielded like a genius like he can, I don’t think he got much joy out of it, to be honest.”

A fan favourite and one of Australia’s most devastating batsmen in short-format cricket, Maxwell was in fine touch at Adelaide Oval where he blasted 62 off 29 balls to hasten his team to a 134-run victory.

He was also his usual energetic presence in the field, effecting a brilliant run-out and engaging in banter with broadcasters.

“They often put on a mask,” Langer said of people suffering mental health problems.

“In public positions they have to put on a mask all the time. That’s his armour, his energy and the way he plays.”

Maxwell, who has played 110 one-day internationals and 61 T20Is, will be assessed in Melbourne over the next “day or so”, Langer said.

Melbourne man Maxwell ranks among Australia’s top-earning athletes, enjoying global prestige as a coveted gun-for-hire in domestic T20 competitions.

But his goal of breaking into the test side, seen as the pinnacle of the sport in Australia, has largely been frustrated.

He has been dropped several times in his career of seven tests and was snubbed for the Ashes series played in England over August-September. Australia retained the urn.

While a number of local pundits felt selectors had dealt with Maxwell harshly, the cricketer said he had moved on.

“You can’t play cricket bitter, it detracts from yourself and makes you stop concentrating on what you need to do,” Maxwell said in a recent interview with Espncricinfo.

A number of top Australian cricketers have battled mental health problems in recent years.

Much-hyped talent Will Pucovski took a break from domestic cricket a year ago and also withdrew from the test squad in January to undergo treatment.

Three-test batsman Nic Maddinson also took time off in 2017 after being dropped from the test side before returning to the game after treatment.

(Corrects to say Australia retained the urn in paragraph 14)

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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