Mature Maxwell hopes 'stupid nicknames' will drop
By his own admission, this was the kind of innings that the old (or young) Glenn Maxwell could not have played. Chasing 295, he came in at almost precisely the halfway point with almost exactly half the runs still required. A run a ball was needed, or near enough, and a run a ball he delivered, or near enough: his half-century came from exactly 50 balls, and he lifted his tempo only towards the end to finish on 96 off 83.
The old (or young) Maxwell would have gone hard from the time he strode to the crease, and maybe it would have come off, but more likely he would have perished trying for the big shot, not quite living up to the Big Show nickname that he hates. Maxwell acknowledges that it will take far more innings like this to change the public perception of him, but he believes as Australia's ODI No.5 he has made significant strides, starting with last year's series in England.
"I probably got, early on in my career, a little bit too excited trying to score 150 strike-rate every game and trying to be the match-winner every game and I didn't really finish the job a whole lot," Maxwell said after the win over India in Melbourne, which secured a series victory for Australia. "It's a long process. I don't think it's something that's just going to happen overnight by one innings.
"It's going to have to be a slow grind. It's going to have to be trying to change a lot of people's perceptions of how I'm seen. I'm hoping a lot more innings like that and hopefully people will start to forget about the stupid nicknames and all that sort of thing, and the hype, and the trick shots. It's something I'm trying to change and it's been something I'm really working on."
Maxwell hopes that the natural extension of his development and the work he has put in off the field on the mental side of his game is that eventually he will again be considered for Test cricket, having failed to offer much in his three matches so far in the baggy green. In the chase at the MCG he showed his ability to pace things to perfection, and it was notable that his reverse sweep made only a couple of appearances.
Not that Maxwell played in what you would call a classical style. The most memorable moment was when he dealt with the off-side field being up to Barinder Sran by slapping Sran over extra cover for six. Describing the shot is not easy: it was arguably related to the cut family, but about as distantly as the hippopotamus is related to the whale family.
"I have areas that I want to hit the ball, and I think it's pretty obvious on the field where I'm trying to hit the ball," Maxwell said. "I haven't really cared about how it looks trying to get the ball there. I think people get caught up in attractive batting, good-looking batting, with balls hit to the fielder.
"I've always thought it doesn't matter how it looks, as long as you can get it to the fence. I've never looked to be an attractive batsman, I'll always just try to get the job done. It's something I've probably failed to do over the past few years. I've scored quickly and scored a few runs in one-day cricket but haven't really got the job done. Tonight was a big step forward."
Maxwell fell with one run left in the chase and four runs left for his hundred - he skied a catch off Umesh Yadav that might have flown over the infield for four, and his century, had he connected properly. "I didn't really care where it went, I just wanted to hit it over the infield," he said. "I didn't care if it went for one, two, eight, four."
But Australia still had three wickets in hand and eight balls to get the one run required - they only needed one delivery as James Faulkner bunted a single next ball. It completed a remarkable run of victories in this series, the team having overhauled India's 309 at the WACA, 308 at the Gabba, and 295 at the MCG - all record successful run chases for the venues.
"It's amazing the way our team is playing and the way we've been approaching those chases," Maxwell said. "I don't think a lot of teams are doing it like we are at the moment, as comfortably as it looks at the moment. To do it three times in a row is pretty phenomenal and probably shows why we're No.1 in the world at the moment. It's a backing from the coach to play with everything on the line, it doesn't matter if you die trying, that's fine, as long as you give it a crack."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale