Maxwell vows to keep his natural flair
If you mention the name Glenn Maxwell to the casual Australian cricket fan you can expect one of two responses. Either they'll think they've heard him commentating on the radio (no, that's Glenn Mitchell and Jim Maxwell), or they won't know the name at all. But the more dedicated followers of Australia's domestic cricket are well aware of Maxwell, and have no doubt kept an eye on his progress since February 9 last year.
That was the night when Maxwell rewrote the record books with a 19-ball half-century for Victoria against Tasmania, the fastest fifty ever scored in Australia's domestic one-day history. He demolished a pretty good attack featuring Ben Hilfenhaus and James Faulkner, and most impressively set Victoria on the path to victory having come to the crease with 66 runs needed at more than ten an over. It was his sixth one-day game for Victoria. He had not yet made his first-class debut.
Soon, Maxwell will have the chance to prove his talent at international level. He has been in Darwin over the past week, training with the Australia squad as they prepare to fly out for a one-day and Twenty20 series against Pakistan in the UAE, and he is also expected to be part of the squad for the World T20 in Sri Lanka next month. And don't expect anything different from Maxwell when he walks out in the national colours.
"I won't change too much when I play for Australia," Maxwell told ESPNcricinfo. "I'll still keep my natural flair but also rein it in when I need to and really be that rock if it's needed. I'm looking forward to getting some opportunities in the batting order and looking forward to doing what the team needs from me in the right situations, whether that be quick runs or saving our arses."
Sometimes, as the chase against Tasmania showed, the two are one and the same. Not that he has coasted solely on that performance since then. A month later he made his first Sheffield Shield hundred, an unbeaten 103 from 118 balls against South Australia, and as a T20 player he has earned contracts from the Delhi Daredevils and Hampshire. In his third county match this year, his 66 not out from 32 balls delivered a crushing victory over Kent.
And yet, it is for his offspin and athletic fielding as much as his batting that Maxwell has earned a call-up from Australia. His presence in the T20 squad can be seen as a like-for-like swap for Steven Smith, who has had his chances at international level without quite grasping his opportunities. Both are impact players, thrilling to watch but at times unpredictable. Australia's T20 captain, George Bailey, is excited by what Maxwell can offer in the World T20 in Sri Lanka.
"Maxy is someone who in terms of the 15 for the World Cup just comes with a really specific skill set that we really like," Bailey said. "He's performed well in the IPL, he's been over playing in England, he's played a lot of cricket. He's an outstanding fielder, an outstanding athlete.
"When he strikes the ball he's one of the best strikers going around. He can win a game off his own bat. He's really destructive, which we love to see. He's flexible - he can bat close to the top or in the lower order. And he's a handy offspin bowler, and that was an area where we felt we needed a bit more cover."
Maxwell, 23, will be one of three spinners in Australia's squad for the Pakistan one-dayers and T20s, along with Smith and Xavier Doherty for the ODIs and Doherty and Brad Hogg for the T20s. A useful man to bowl through the middle overs, Maxwell is looking forward to working in what he expects to be favourable conditions in the UAE.
"The good thing with the UAE and the conditions we'll get there is that I probably can be considered a frontline bowler and be a real go-to option to bowl eight to ten overs in a one-day game," he said. "It will depend on team balance and what they need, if they want to play extra quicks, I'm not sure if the conditions will suit that. I think they'll play a few spinners, so I reckon I'll have a good chance of playing a few games over there."
And if he shows what he showed that night in Hobart, especially when Australia move on to World T20 in Sri Lanka, even the most casual Australian cricket fan will know the name Glenn Maxwell. Because his namesake, Jim, will have just shouted it.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here