Glenn Maxwell's World Cup hopes appear to lie in his ability to play the spin-bowling allrounder role, with Australia captain Aaron Finch saying his output with the bat does not justify a role up the batting order.
Maxwell scored 35 from 27 balls coming in at No.7 in a difficult position in Australia's defeat to South Africa in Hobart on Sunday evening that saw the home side surrender the Gillette ODI Series 1-2.
The Victorian came in at 5-226 following the exit of century-maker Shaun Marsh, with the home side needing 95 runs from the final 8.4 overs. He was off the mark with an audacious four behind square from a ball wide of the off-stump, hit two more boundaries, but fell in the penultimate over with Australia still 43 runs away and nine balls remaining.
Finch said Maxwell's future in the one-day side was as an allrounder, and he would continue to bat at No.7.
"If you look at Glenn's stats recently, he probably hasn't made as many runs as he would have liked as a pure batsman," Finch said after play in Hobart.
"Therefore for him to be in the side and as an allrounder, he's probably batting in that No.7 spot."
Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey were elevated above Maxwell over the course of the three-match series, and took their opportunities to cement middle order spots, with Finch saying there was limited scope for Maxwell to bat higher.
"Guys are playing reasonably well around him," said Finch, highlighting the efforts of Stoinis and Carey.
"'Maxi' would have liked some more runs, and obviously wants to bat higher.
"But the reality is he's in the side as a bit of an allrounder but he hasn't scored as many runs that he needed to over the last little while in one-day cricket to probably justify taking up a top-four spot.
"That's just reality at the end of the day."
Maxwell's one and only ODI century came against Sri Lanka at the 2015 World Cup in the pool stages, when he struck 102 from 53 balls at the SCG.
In the 35 ODI innings since, he has passed 50 five times, but just once in the past 22 months. That was his 62 in the opening match of this year's ill-fated winter tour of the UK that Australia lost 0-5.
The knock later prompted Ricky Ponting to say Maxwell needed to "work out the best way for him to play", and the Victorian duly responded, revealing during the JLT One-Day Cup he had "adjusted a few things technically and mentally as well".
Slotted in at No.5 for the Vics in their run to the domestic 50-over one-day title, Maxwell scored 196 runs in seven innings at 28, with a top score of 80, his only half-century of the tournament.
He conceded his role in the state team meant "there haven't probably been as many opportunities to have those bigger scores but I feel like I've been batting as well as ever".
Prodigiously talented, Maxwell has been an enigma for Australian cricket across formats. He scored a Test century in Ranchi against India, but was then dropped, and was a surprise omission for the UAE tour.
He's previously been singled out for criticism under the Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann regime, fined for comments about batting below wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, and implored to "train smarter".
The latest blunt assessment, carefully worded as it was, will sting coming from his close friend and former housemate in Finch. Maxwell was emcee at the Australia limited-overs captain's wedding in April.
"It's important we start to really nut down the balance of the side and get that right moving forward," Finch said when asked if Maxwell's position in the side was in danger.
"We're all under pressure when we lose. No doubt about that. Between the batting line-up not having got it right for a little now while there's going to be some questions asked whether it's of Maxi, whether it's (Chris) Lynn, (Travis) Head, myself, or 'Stoin'.
"There's going to be questions asked of all of us."
That quest for balance now appears to put Maxwell in direct competition for his spot with Ashton Agar, who was an unused squad member in the series against the Proteas.
With Australia returning to Adam Zampa as an attacking leg-spinning option, Maxwell's off-spin and athletic fielding now appear to be as pivotal to his selection as his ability with the bat.
The seven overs he bowled in Hobart were the most he'd delivered in an ODI since January 2016, and he last took a wicket in June of that year, having bowled just 20 overs since, including Sunday night's effort.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who was dropped on 29 after a faint nick off Maxwell was grassed by gloveman Carey, paid tribute to his intelligent bowling and variations of pace to create the chance, while Finch added he "bowled really nicely today".
Maxwell also trapped David Miller in front, but that decision was overturned after a somewhat contentious review where the umpire initially failed to hear the South Africans' request for a referral.
Maxwell's immediate focus shifts to the T20 match against South Africa that marks the Gold Coast's debut as an international venue next Saturday, before three more T20s against India and a possible two rounds of JLT Sheffield Shield before the KFC Big Bash League.
Gillette T20s v South Africa and India
Gillette T20s v South Africa
November 17: Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
Gillette T20s v India
November 21: The Gabba
November 23: MCG
November 25: SCG
Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
South Africa T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.
India T20 squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed.