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News Analysis

Can T20 World Cup inspire a Maxwell revival?

The Australia allrounder averaged less than six in this year's IPL but there is a belief he can come good in the Caribbean

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
One of the more forgettable IPL tournaments with the bat came to end with a lofted drive to long-on. It was Glenn Maxwell's fourth duck of the season for Royal Challengers Bengaluru.
"What on earth was that from Glenn Maxwell?," Kevin Pietersen said on the broadcast. "That there from Maxwell, I'm afraid to say, is not good enough."
It left Maxwell with 52 runs from nine innings (28 of those coming in one knock) and an average of 5.77 in IPL 2024. For those who have played at least nine innings in a season only Sunil Narine (2023) and Daniel Sams (2022) have finished with a lower average and the majority of their innings came in the lower order.
"It was the shot of a guy who had almost had enough of the IPL this year, it's been a difficult campaign for him, his bowling has been a highlight, his batting has just been poor," former Australia captain Aaron Finch said on ESPN's Around The Wicket.
The season never got going for Maxwell who stepped away from the side midway through the competition having spoken to captain Faf du Plessis and coach Andy Flower before he would likely have been dropped. Had Will Jacks not been recalled for England duty, Maxwell may well not have made the XI in the latter stages as RCB mounted their remarkable run to the knockouts.
Players go through peaks and troughs of form, it's not the end of the world even if Maxwell's slump is on the more extreme end. If there had been no cricket to follow the IPL for Maxwell it could probably be parked, but that is not the case with the T20 World Cup just days away and him being a pivotal part of Australia's hopes to adding to their one men's title in the format from 2021.
He's going to the World Cup now and I don't see any reason why he can't turn this around or turn his own personal form around in the World Cup for Australia and I look forward to watching that
Andy Flower, RCB head coach
There is an it'll-be-alright-on-the-night view from a number of voices, including the coach Andrew McDonald, when it comes to Maxwell's form leading into the World Cup. There is some sound logic behind that confidence, for Maxwell is a player capable of the extraordinary.
You only have to go back a few months for a recent example. Having suffered concussion falling off the back of a golf cart during the ODI World Cup he returned to compile that unbelievable 201 not out against Afghanistan to carry Australia to victory from a lost cause. More recently, albeit in a game of less significance, he thrashed 120 off 55 balls in a T20I against West Indies in Adelaide; last November he made 104 not out off 48 balls against India in Guwahati. In all T20s from the start of 2023 until the beginning of this IPL he made 1200 runs at 30.76 with a strike-rate of 177.25.
"I don't think they'll be too concerned," former Australia batter Callum Ferguson said on Around The Wicket. "They know what he brings in big tournaments and he does get up for them. It's a great chance for him now to reset…I'm expecting him to bounce back really hard. He just looked a little indecisive through this IPL which is so unlike Maxi."
It was a similar tone struck by Flower. "Maxi's had a tough season, absolutely, and we know what he can contribute. It's been a really tough season for him," he said. "He's had an amazing couple of years actually. It was a surprise to everyone but I really wish him well.
"He's going to the World Cup now and I don't see any reason why he can't turn this around or turn his own personal form around in the World Cup for Australia and I look forward to watching that."
Maxwell continues to have to manage his fitness following the badly broken leg he suffered in late 2022. He has insisted he felt confident coming into the tournament but recently suggested the other off-field commitments of the IPL may have had an impact.
"The filming, the ads, and all that sort of stuff takes up so much time and so much energy that I was sort of almost drained, I reckon, before game one," he said during an interaction with members of his Catch Max fan club. "I probably had about four full days of filming leading into the first couple of games, and just found like I wasn't able to probably get the same sort of match practice I was able to get in last time."
There is a degree of uncertainty over how the T20 World Cup will play out tactically. If, as expected, spin plays a key role in the middle overs as it so often does, then Maxwell will have a vital role to play in marshalling the middle order and the phase after the powerplay, which Australia will hope can be dominated by David Warner, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh. Maxwell has a superb T20I record at No. 4 where he averages 34.22 with a strike-rate of 160.44, and has hit four of his five centuries.
One positive, alluded to by Finch, is that the bowling continues go well for Maxwell. His offspin has become an integral part of Australia's white-ball plans. One of the possible combinations they could go with in the Caribbean, and perhaps the most likely, again has him as the second spinner alongside Adam Zampa.
While the attention now turns to Maxwell in Australian colours, the other intriguing aspect after his lean season is what comes next in the IPL? There is a mega auction on the horizon and teams will only be able to retain a set number of players beforehand.
"The IPL will probably be the last tournament I ever play, as I will play the IPL until I can't walk anymore," Maxwell said last year. But will that be for RCB?

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo