Glenn Maxwell: Australia’s Boom Boom

Posted on January 17, 2014

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Big Show, Boom Boom

Chasing 301 here in the second ODI at the GABBA in Brisbane, Australia were 206-6, with Glenn Maxwell going well on 54. Those runs had come at typically quick pace, in less than 40 balls. This had included a plethora of beautifully played reverse sweeps off Joe Root, and a series of bludgeoning blows off everyone else. Almost inevitably however, Maxwell holed out, advancing down the track to Tim Bresnan and succeeding only in smashing it straight to midwicket. What was 200-5 at the start of the over was 206-7 by the end of it. Maxwell’s innings was entertaining, it always is, but with just under 100 needed to win the game and heap further misery on a beleaguered England side, another 10 overs of Maxwell would have seen the game over. It’s with this that I ask the question; Is Glenn Maxwell essentially becoming Australia’s own Shahid Afridi?

Shahid Afridi is one of the most popular players in the game. He is known, adored even, worldwide by Pakistan fans and neutrals alike mostly because of his tendency to stride out to the middle and attempt to smack the sheen off the ball, regardless of the context of the match. Over an astonishing 373 ODI games, he has maintained a strike rate of 115.11. This is absolutely stunning, but it pays testament to the frustration that surrounds him. His average is a paltry 23. 34, not good enough in the slightest for someone who is considered an all rounder. In 345 innings he has managed only six hundreds and only 35 50’s. Sure, you can argue that he frequently comes in down the order when time isn’t on his side, but over those almost-400 games Afridi has batted everywhere in the order, as well as coming in early on during one of those classic Pakistan collapses. When he retires (for real), his batting will eventually be considered one of the biggest wastes of potential the game has ever seen.

Maxwell has started his international career very well. He began creating waves in Australia in 2010/11, when he scored the fastest one day 50 in Australian history, coming in a terrifying 19 balls. The myth grew and grew, and he finally made his international debut for Australia in August 2012 against Afghanistan. As Australia have been equal parts struggling and dominating in the time since, his role has chopped and changed. Still, when he walks to the wicket there is no doubt in anyones mind what he is going to do. Whether the score is 245-4 or 45-4, Glenn Maxwell is going to come out and attack. Sometimes this works, sometimes this doesn’t. After only 20 games (not including the ongoing affair in Brisbane) he averages 34.60, not bad at all for a young all rounder. His strike rate comes in at 129.75, impressive without doubt. He’s hit 5 50’s in that time, which works out at one every four innings. It’s been a good start for the Big Show.

But is such a kamikaze style of batting sustainable in the modern game? I’d say no. Opposition sides are too in-depth now, everything is analysed and plans are followed meticulously. Sure, you can’t place fielders in the crowd, but you can work out exactly where a batsman will struggle and then exploit that. In todays innings, Maxwell looked a little lost at times when he was put onto the defensive. Also, much like Afridi, he isn’t afraid to continuously head to the same well, regardless of whether it is full or down to a drip. It is this tendency that makes him such a wonderful player to watch, but could also be the albatross around the neck of his career. There’s talent there, but too much enthusiasm can be a bad thing.

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