Maxwell learns value of slow show from Warne
Four months on from his international debut and less than a week away from a likely baggy green cap, Glenn Maxwell is no longer in such a hurry. Maxwell was so outwardly ambitious against Pakistan in the UAE in August he was quickly dubbed "The Big Show" by Australian ODI team-mates. But he has since learned vital lessons at the feet of Shane Warne, among others, and the chief of these has been the addition of patience to an otherwise explosive all-round game.
That quality will be vital for Maxwell should he play in Sydney, where he would be more or less on trial ahead of the Test tour of India, where John Inverarity's selection panel may favour the use of a spin bowling allrounder to augment the pace attack and the teasing off breaks of Nathan Lyon. The SCG pitch has returned somewhat to the slower, spinning days of the past, and Maxwell bowled tidily at the ground for Australia A against the South Africans and Victoria against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield.
Maxwell's first glimpses of international combat were both promising and chastening. He played fearlessly in the ODIs but haltingly in the World Twenty20 that followed, and left that tournament best remembered for a few self-aggrandising comments before the event. Back in Australia, he was soon made aware of the selectors' belief that he may yet develop into a Test match allrounder, and has spent time on his fledgling off-spin accordingly, despite the hurdle presented by the Big Bash League.
"With the BBL on there's limited bowling opportunities," Maxwell said. "You're only going to bowl maximum four overs in a game and as an off spinner there's limited opportunities so I have been working hard on bowling outside the group, in the nets, one-on-one with coaches and just making sure it's up to standard for when it's going to be next required. With the BBL I have been lucky enough to work with Shane Warne a fair bit over the last few weeks and he's been really good especially with the mental side of the game.
"Probably more closely with [the former Victoria left-arm spinner] Shawn Flegler, growing up in the Futures League he has been my coach and he's seen a lot of me develop from when I had a lot of troubles with my action. I had to change it a fair bit through the academy days and now where it's been at least a little bit more successful at first-class level and a lot more successful in the last few years."
Warne's counsel to Maxwell has been along the sorts of lines that would also be valuable to Lyon, relating to subtle tactics here and there to keep a batsman thinking and not merely batting. There have also been discussions around Maxwell's tendency to chase immediate success when a more considered approach is most likely to glean wickets.
"It's a lot more about patience," Maxwell said. "I'm a cricketer who wants things to happen really quickly and want the game to keep moving forward. He has helped me to slow down and take a few deep breaths, just work things over whether it be moving a fielder two steps over and then two steps back, sort of getting into the batsman's head a bit. He talked a lot about batter manipulation, just simple little things like that. He has been great to work with, just to delve into the mind that is the best spin bowler we have ever produced."
Other lessons were learned in the UAE and Sri Lanka, both in terms of how best to play the game against high quality opponents and also around the look and attitude of an Australian cricketer. Happy to get by looking a little unkempt at times, Maxwell admitted to looking more like a park cricketer in days gone by, until the coach Mickey Arthur made note of it.
"I suppose I have to have a haircut and a shave every now and then," Maxwell said. "I turned up to the squad and Mickey Arthur goes, `Are you going to shave any time soon?' and said, `Oh, probably'. About 10 minutes later I went to my room and had a shave. So it's basically just looking the part as a cricketer, tucking your shirt in when you're told ... I was a little bit country boyish coming into the side, so just looking the part as a cricketer."
"There is a lot less margin for error [at international level]. The professionalism of all the players that you play against and with is a completely different standard. I've had to lift my game from going to play for Hampshire and then straight into the Australian set-up I've had to lift my game up a few levels and really just make sure I'm at least at that standard and looking like I'm at that standard."
As for the natural aggression Maxwell has used most effectively in his batting, there has been no indication that he will need to temper it at the SCG. "It's the way I've been brought up, I've always played my natural game, it didn't really matter the situation," Maxwell said. "I felt if I went against it, it would bring indecision and probably cost me with a few iffy shots. I feel if I back myself the best outcome will come out. I don't see that that's going to change if I get selected in Sydney."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here