Glenn Maxwell only rated himself at “80 per cent” fitness as he returned from a badly broken leg in his first Sheffield Shield appearance in 1200 days on Monday.
The dynamic all-rounder made a dashing 61 in club cricket on Saturday to show he was ready to play for Victoria, having done “a lot of hard work” to get back to the game after sustaining the injury last November.
But his enthusiasm couldn’t translate into a big score, as Maxwell was out for just five at the Junction Oval.
Only the most in-form Australian batter not in India, Matt Short, put on a one-man show against South Australia.
Short, the Big Bash player of the year who also blasted his maiden one-day hundred for the Vics last week, made 70 as the home side was all out for just 169.
Wes Agar, the younger brother of spinner Ashton who could be headed home from India after being overlooked for Test selection twice, starred for the visitors, taking 5-54.
But his good work with the ball was undone after a last session collapse left the Rebacks, chasing a third win a row, reduced to 5-75 at stumps, still 94 runs behind.
Maxwell said putting on whites again, having narrowly missed Test selection in Sri Lanka last year, was like “the first game of cricket all over again”.
Targeting an international return for Australia’s ODI series against India in March, Maxwell said he’d done a lot of work to get back.
“It’s been a pretty long journey over the last 3½ months, so a lot of early morning sessions, gym, rehab, pool sessions, physio,” he said.
“To feel like I am at the back-end of that now and able to play some cricket is something I’m proud of.”
But he conceded he was not fully primed just yet.
“I think probably 80 per cent. I have a fair bit to go until I am fully fit for a one-day game, which is what I’m working towards,” he said.
“I won’t bowl, I’m still building up my loads and getting that natural body movement muscle memory going.
“As far as the batting and time on feet goes, I have done a lot of work behind the scenes to get myself ready, so it’s a small step in the comeback.
“I think I’m trying not to put nay expectations in it … it has been a long time since I’ve played in this format.”