Maxwell clarification adds to milestone debate
Glenn Maxwell has compared the Indian batsmen's approach unfavourably to the Australians' when nearing a milestone, but Cricket Australia have been quick to do damage control.
It began after the third ODI in Melbourne with a question quoting Matthew Hayden from 10 years ago. Maxwell, who had scored a match-winning 96 in that match, was noncommittal in response but before the Sydney ODI, he eliminated the doubts around what he said.
"They were probably just making sure they got to a milestone," Maxwell had said in Melbourne. "Some people are milestone-driven, some people aren't. If it means that much to you, you go for it. But it's not something that drives me too much. Each to their own."
In Sydney though, Maxwell went from generic to specific. He told Wisden India: "I knew it [the comment] was going to blow up. It didn't really bother me. I was sent a photo the other day, it said Virat was 84 off 63, and then 100 off 89 or something like that. He got his last 11 runs off 22 balls to get his hundred. I thought about that and I was like, 'Jeez, he did it so easily all the way up until then, and then you just lose a bit of momentum.' I have been thinking about that.
"Then you look on the other hand, when you watch David Warner get into the 90s and he tries to hit Ishant Sharma for a slog sweep for six. It's just, to me, that's two complete different ends of the spectrum. And then you look at the scoreline and you see 4-0. And to me, I'd much rather be 4-0 basically."
Maxwell said his side didn't care about milestones. "The way Boof [Darren Lehmann, the coach] has talked to us always has been: 'Take the game on, take the game on, take the game on. I don't care if you're on 90, I don't care if you're on zero, take the game on.'"
Cricket Australia and BCCI enjoy a fruitful relationship under the new Big Three arrangement. CA's website was quick to do an interview with Maxwell to clarify his statements, but he didn't quite take them back.
Maxwell would, however, tweet that they were "taken out of context" and said he was in awe of how Kohli almost single-handedly chased down 349 in Canberra.
"I was asked to give a bit of an assessment of who was dominating with the bat in this series, and I said, 'I don't think anyone in the world is hitting the ball better than Virat at the moment,'" Maxwell told cricket.com.au.
"The point that I was making, and it related more to when India were setting totals and had plenty of wickets in hand, is that the scoring rate seemed to slow as milestones got close, which can sometimes be the case, especially when teams are batting first.
"Maintaining a constant scoring rate can be less straightforward batting first than when you're chasing and you know what the required rate has to be, and there have been times when batters just seem to have slowed a bit to make sure they reach those milestones. Sometimes that wins you games, and sometimes it doesn't but that was the only point I was trying to make. I've got a really good relationship with Virat off the field, and I've already had a chat with him."
The clarification doesn't make it disappear that he compared the Indian batsmen's efforts with that of Warner, who too, was setting a total and got out in the 90s trying to play a big shot.
Steven Smith, Australia's captain, said the slowing down near a milestone was natural. "I think that can be natural for anyone around the world," Smith said. "When you see that sort of milestone coming, in the back of your mind you might slow down a little bit. I think Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are quality players and they're batting beautifully, and I don't see any problem with any selfishness there."
Aaron Finch distanced himself from Maxwell's comments. "The talk of Indian players being selfish was obviously Glenn's view; that's not my personal view," Finch said. "Virat Kohli got a 100 off 80-odd balls the other day. There was nothing selfish about that innings. That was an extraordinary, extraordinary innings. Shikhar Dhawan got it off about 95 balls, I think. He took the game on at the start for India along with Rohit, and got them off to an absolute flyer. Gee, there are some seriously good players in India. Virat… 25 ODI hundreds now. That's an unbelievable achievement."
In the three ODIs that India batted first, they scored 67, 67 and 60 from overs 31 to 40. These have been the overs when their set batsmen have approached their hundreds. In Perth, Rohit took 24 balls from 83 at the start of the 31st over to reach his century. Similarly in Brisbane, between the 30th and the 40th overs, Rohit took 21 balls to move from 86 to 100. Virat Kohli took 15 balls to score the last 16 runs to his century between the 38th and 43rd overs in Melbourne.
Team director Ravi Shastri, though, had defended his men before the Canberra ODI. "If they were focusing on milestones, Virat Kohli wouldn't have been the fastest to 7000 runs; he would have taken another 100 games," Shastri said. "If that was the case, Rohit Sharma would not be having two double hundreds, and a score of 264."