Glenn Maxwell, one of the world’s best in the form of his life, can drive Australia to the last summit they have to scale
Much, if not all of Australia’s hopes at the T20 World Cup rests on the shoulders of one man: Glenn Maxwell.
Widely regarded as one of the most versatile and explosive T20 players in the world, Maxwell enters the competition off the back of a phenomenal year in the IPL, where he made 513 runs in 14 innings at a strike-rate of 144.10 with six half-centuries.
Maxwell’s ability to re-create this form will be central to any hopes Australia have of performing well in the competition. Since the beginning of 2018, Australia have had a mediocre record in T20 cricket, winning just 43 percent of their matches, a statistic that places them ninth in the list of winning records for full-member ICC sides. More recently, since the start of 2020 they have won just eight of their 23 matches.
However, a dramatic turnaround in fortunes isn’t impossible, something proved by Maxwell himself. Whilst his performance in this years’ IPL was remarkable for all the right reasons, his performance in the 2020 edition was remarkable for all the wrong reasons. Across 11 innings he scored just 108 runs at a strike-rate of 101.88.
Maxwell credits his improvements with renewed clarity around his game, a trait that will serve him well as he heads into the World Cup with much of Australia’s hopes pinned on him.
“I’m not overthinking stuff once I get in-game,” he said earlier this week. “It’s all automatic. I’m trying to play against the conditions and the opposition and that’s all I’m thinking about. It’s not [a case of] if I play well, we’re going to win a World Cup. There’s no thoughts of that. It’s just if I’m in a contest, I’ll give my best on the day, and then I’m sure that will be a positive impact on the team.”
Maxwell is set to bat at No.4 for Australia and play the role of the side’s spin hitter during the middle-overs, a mirror of the role he played for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. Another factor that works towards Maxwell and Australia’s advantage is that he has an exceptional record in the UAE. From 31 innings he has scored eight half-centuries at a strike-rate of 146.26.
Part of his success in the region, Maxwell argues, is down to being patient early in the innings.
“I think it just takes a little bit more time to soak in a bit of information. I think you can get to Australia and bat in that time [the middle overs], and you can probably go a lot earlier, you can try and hit boundaries a lot earlier. It just takes like a few extra balls to actually get used to what’s facing you out there. I think having spent a fair bit of time in the middle over the last month and a bit has really helped me sort of start to get used to that and get used to the pace of the game and pace the wickets.”
Whilst Maxwell is known primarily for his batting, his bowling could also play a pivotal role for Australia. As an off-spinner, Maxwell is often used on a match-up basis against left-handers, but during the IPL he bowled more regularly against the right-handers in a trend he wishes to continue into the World Cup.
“I think the biggest thing for me first and foremost is to be able to bowl not just to left-handers but to be able to bowl to right-handers and not have to, I suppose, worry about two right-handers being out there,” Maxwell said. “Still be able to close down one side the ground and offer Finchy an extra option.”
Maxwell has often blown hot and cold for Australia and at times struggled for acceptance from his home fans. The perception of Maxwell as inconsistent is perhaps unfair, considering the roles he has been asked to fill. In ODIs, a stratospheric strike-rate of 125 is coupled with a decent average of 34. In T20Is, both numbers are excellent, with an average of 32 and a strike-rate a touch under 160. Now, in the form of his life and in a specific role, he has the chance to drag his side to the final piece of silverware missing from Australia’s cabinet.
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