You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Glenn Maxwell gets smart after shot of discipline

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 10/05/2014 Chloe Saltau

Right now he's an Aussie Punjabi, lighting up the Indian Premier League, but Glenn Maxwell has revealed how close he came to declaring himself English. 

In 2012, when he was playing Twenty20 and second XI cricket for Hamsphire, Maxwell felt so far from Australian selection that he toyed with using his UK passport, courtesy of his father's English heritage, to play in the first-class county competition.   

“I was playing T20s there and a bit of second XI cricket. They said, ‘You can go in front of the judge and say that you’re English and that you have no ambition to play for Australia. I was like, 'Well, that’s fine, I don’t think I’m going to be playing for Australia any time soon anyway, it doesn’t bother me.'

"The Hampshire coach, Giles White, actually talked me out of it; said we don’t want to take that risk with you just in case something happens.”

Something did happen. Three months later the Australian selectors picked him for a limited-overs series against Pakistan and the World T20 that followed. Five months after that he was a wildcard selection as an off-spinning all-rounder for the doomed Test tour of India.

In the past three months, Maxwell has turned a corner. He says he deserved the great bake given to him by coach Darren Lehmann in January, even if the public nature of it took him by surprise.

Lehmann was exasperated by Maxwell’s wild swish to get out at a critical moment of a run chase in Perth. “Our blokes - and Maxwell - he’s got to understand, we’ve got to play better cricket," Lehmann said.

It was nothing the Victorian hadn’t heard behind closed doors, where he was told he had to get better at reading the game, at knowing when a shot was on, at guarding against over-confidence.

Maxwell was grateful for Lehmann’s honesty.

“It was about me being smarter in certain situations in one-day cricket … The spray was deserved. I didn’t expect it to come out publicly but that’s the way he goes about it, and the one-day game is a bit harder for me to grasp my hands around different situations I come in at.

"That’s the way he [Lehmann] tries to get the best out of his players. He challenges us, especially me. He’s not shying away from giving guys a bake when they need it. You don’t want people to be soft on you.”

The 25-year-old says there is no direct link between the spray and his outrageous recent form in the other formats. He finished the Sheffield Shield season with scores of 94 (from 95 balls), 127 (from 104, after coming in when Victoria was in a bit of bother at 6-9), 119 and four. At the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, he was Australia’s second-highest run-scorer. Now, Maxwell is the dominant batsman in the Indian Premier League, with 460 runs at 57.5 and a strike rate of 204 for Kings XI Punjab. Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin is the latest bowler to have been disarmed by Maxwell, conceding 34 runs from nine legal deliveries.

It’s tempting to conclude that Maxwell is living up to the nickname that caught on when he’d played only a handful of games for Australia. But if he never heard the words “Big Show” again it would be too soon. That is another reason for his gratitude to Lehmann, who calls him, simply, Glenn.

“He said, ‘I am never, ever calling you the Big Show until you get a one-day hundred.’ I said, 'Just don’t call me it ever. It frustrates me more and more every time I see that name," Maxwell says. "[But] it’s something I can’t see going away.”

Maxwell is on the phone from Cuttack, enjoying himself a whole lot more than this time last year, when he played only a handful of games for Mumbai despite his celebrated million-dollar price tag. “I was getting a lot of stick for it, but it wasn’t like I could select the teams myself,” he said.

After the IPL he will embark on another English county stint  - including four-day cricket this time - and an ODI series in Zimbabwe.

“I feel pretty lucky to be a part of it, to tell you the truth, because I got that [2012] call-up way before I ever thought I was going to.

“That Test tour [of India] originally was a massive dream come true. It didn’t go to plan. We got thumped and the conditions were horrendous. It wasn’t an ideal place to make a debut.

"But what it did, it gave me a hunger for more. Now that I have a baggy green, I want to add so many more games to that cap. The way I finished the shield season is probably an indication that I’m starting to get it right in red ball cricket, starting to understand the game. Hopefully, a few more of those performances I can start to put my name up for Test selection again.”

He sees no reason why the IPL can’t help turn him into a smarter player for Australia.

“After this IPL I think I will have a pretty firm grasp of what I can and can’t do. I’ve been stretching the boundaries as much as possible in terms of shot innovation and when I need to play those shots. I think when next summer comes around I will be better prepared for different situations and hopefully a lot more successful, as well," he said.

“I still don’t think I have nailed my spot in that [one-day] side. I'm still flirting with what I could be capable of doing and what I currently am doing. If I can close that gap over the next few months, I can really nail down that middle order spot. I really want that finishing role for Australia. All the talk has been about how Mike Hussey and Michael Bevan played that role. Obviously I’m going to do it in a different way but if I could do it half as well as either of those two, I’m sure Australia is in good hands.”

More From Canberra Times

Canberra Times
Canberra Times
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon