Australia v England, Carlton Mid Tri-Series final, Perth February 1, 2015

Maxwell plays both creator and destroyer

The world hoped he knew how to pace an innings, but hadn't seen it. He knew he had it in him to pace an innings, but hadn't shown it. The stage was all set for Glenn Maxwell to shine in the tri-series final

Glenn Maxwell - "I think facing the quicks on that wicket, it didn't feel like you could trust the bounce when you are driving. I felt like you took a lot more time to get in" © Getty Images

Before this triangular series final, the most balls Glenn Maxwell had faced in an international innings was 81. He walked in at 3 for 46 in the 12th over, and saw it become 4 for 60 in the 18th. If Australia were going to mount a challenging total, they needed him to bat more than 76 balls. Don't worry about the runs scored. Just bat. Because if he lasts that many balls, there is no way Maxwell is going too far off a run a ball.

But would Maxwell? This is a bloke, bear in mind, who almost took offence when asked if having a hitter like him around him helps him when he goes out to bat. "I don't think anyone is like me," he said. "If you find a replica, I would love to meet, and ask him 'why'?" Even after the press conference got over, he joked, "Let me know if you find someone like me. He might need to see a few of my clips first." A man such as Maxwell, would he rein himself in? Would he ever?

It took Maxwell 62 balls to pull out his first reverse sweep. "I wanted to get used to the way [Moeen] Ali was getting the bounce on the wicket," Maxwell said. "I think facing the quicks on that wicket, it didn't feel like you could trust the bounce when you are driving. I felt like you took a lot more time to get in. So I decided to have a little bit more look at him and once I got the idea of the line he was bowling to me, I thought it was a pretty safe shot by getting outside the line, and it put a bit of pressure on him with Ali having those three guys inside the circle on the off side."

Maxwell had played normal cricket to reach 48 off 62, but now he began to play the fancy shots. They seem fancy and risky to us, but to Maxwell they are no different to playing a shot down the ground. He explained the thought process behind playing those shots. "When you are playing in a place like this where the boundaries are so short straight and when the fielders are up inside the circle, I feel all you need to do is get it a little bit above them and it is four," Maxwell said. "To me, it seems less of a risk than try and go against the pace and try and go over mid-off and mid-on who are inside the circle when you are trying to force the pace.

"When you are using the pace, I find it so much easier using the pace to get it over the guys behind me than it is to go straight. That was the only reason and they were bowling a lot of slower balls into the wicket, I felt like I could sort of scoop it over myself, which might seem unorthodox. But when you practise it a lot, when you train against the guys in the nets who are bowling slower balls, slower-ball bouncers and that sort of thing, you get used to it. You hit more than you miss."

When you are using the pace, I find it so much easier using the pace to get it over the guys behind me than it is to go straight. That was the only reason and they were bowling a lot of slower balls into the wicket, I felt like I could sort of scoop it over myself, which might seem unorthodox
Glenn Maxwell

Yet, it was the first half of the innings that set up the final, and that was impressive. The world hoped he had it in him, but didn't know so. Maxwell knew he had it in him, but hadn't shown so until this game. "It's probably more about showing," Maxwell said. "I knew that I had that in me. I think when you have those situations, when you get out early, you think all the bad luck you had. I think the last two times that I have had the opportunities early at the WACA, I chopped on both occasions really early for a duck. You sort of think about that, if you just get past that a little bit of bad luck and you could be away.

"I had a couple of chop-ons today [off the bowling of Steven Finn] that went close to the stumps. They miss the stumps and all of a sudden, you are away. So it's, yeah, a little bit of luck in the game. I felt it was with me today and it's nice to get through that."

At 95 and with a lot of carnage in the offing with 10 more overs to go, Maxwell tried a big shot again, and fell short of not only a maiden hundred but possibly a big one. You would think that it comes with the territory. When you take risks - they might not seem risky to Maxwell - you run the risk of getting out. Maxwell, though, thinks otherwise. "I was a little bit annoyed that I didn't bat till the last 10 overs," he said. "I think I did a lot of the hard to work to get myself to that stage, allow myself to have that bit of fun at the end where I could express myself and take advantage of the team that I had basically negated for 20 overs.

"So I felt like I earned the right to bat in the last 10 overs and to get out in a pretty soft way. I was extremely disappointed, especially because I wasn't trying to hit a boundary, trying to hit into the gap, one or two. Try to play safe, I probably should have reverse swept it or something. I shouldn't have done something silly."

There's a bit of Virender Sehwag in that thought process. It's hard to not like such players once they start backing up such thought processes more regularly.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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