Maxwell fires, but Stars lose again

Glenn Maxwell staked his claim for a one-day international recall but his fighting effort couldn’t mask the same old problems for the Melbourne Stars, whose season is now surely just a salvage mission after they slumped to their fifth loss from as many games on Tuesday night at Adelaide Oval.

Axed from ‘s ODI side last week before having his training habits questioned by captain Steve Smith, Maxwell was innovative at times on Tuesday night, hitting seven fours and one six as he compiled 60 from 39 balls, eventually falling to Peter Siddle with the last ball of the 18th over after the Stars won the toss and elected to bat. Some late hitting from captain John Hastings (17 not out from 10 balls) helped the Stars to 6-151, giving them a fighting chance.

But forget about the “Big Show”, there weren’t enough side acts for the Stars. Half-centuries from Alex Carey and Travis Head, and some late thrashing from Colin Ingram – dropped in the deep by Maxwell with 13 balls remaining – was enough for the Strikers to secure an eight-wicket win with eight balls to spare, and move them back to the top of the ladder.

It was something of a different looking Stars XI, with Scott Boland back in place of Michael Beer, and Seb Gotch replacing Luke Wright, who the club said had hurt his back slipping in the bathroom on Monday night.

But despite the inclusions the early overs had an all too familiar look for the Stars. Against his former side, Ben Dunk was dismissed for one by Michael Neser, Dunk’s fourth single-digit score in five knocks this season. Having made public that this would be his last season with the Stars, Kevin Pietersen went for a wild swing and was bowled by Billy Stanlake for five, while Handscomb – wearing a shirt in which his name was missing the letter ‘S’ – looked a man short not only on letters but on time in the middle, gone for just one after top edging Ben Laughlin to be caught by wicketkeeper Carey.

With a replacement for the injured Chris Lynn set to be announced imminently ahead of ‘s first ODI against England at the MCG on Sunday, Maxwell had the public backing of n cricket great and new national Twenty20 team assistant coach Ricky Ponting, and thrived, rescuing the struggling Stars from a seemingly dire position at 4-51 in the eighth over against the Adelaide Strikers when Marcus Stoinis fell for 39.

Maxwell ensured it wouldn’t be a rout, but the Stars had the same old problem with the ball: they couldn’t build enough pressure with wickets. They have taken a measly seven in their past three games, not a winning formula.

The recalled Boland was again punished, conceding 26 runs from his two overs, while Stoinis also went for more than 11 an over from his four.

Ponting had said on Channel Ten’s coverage of the game that Maxwell should be the man to replace Lynn, but the at-times outspoken Maxwell was content to let his cricket do the talking. He wasn’t done after his efforts with the bat, combining with gloveman Peter Handscomb to end a 50-run opening stand from the Strikers, with Jake Weatherald stumped for 18, but it was all to no avail on the night.

The Stars remain on the bottom of the ladder, with their next match against the Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. They will lose one-day representatives Stoinis, Adam Zampa, and who knows, maybe Maxwell, for that match, although the club said it was hopeful Wright would be available to return.

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