That is the remarkable ball by ball account of how Glenn Maxwell flayed Sri Lanka in the First T20 international earlier this week. 145 not out off 65 balls: an amazing statement from the reigning Australian ODI Player of the Year in his first International game after losing his position in the one day team. The incredible knock provided the backbone of Australia’s World Record T20 international total of 3/263. (If you missed it or just want to marvel at the audacity of his innings you can watch it in a 10 minute package here).
Having again been overlooked for the one day tour of South Africa it was a timely innings from the much maligned all-rounder. His opportunity to play this match only coming about due to an injury to his great mate Aaron Finch, a poor tour of the West Indies apparently enough for the Victorian to be banished by the selectors. Considering the fact that the same selectors think Moises Henriques is a test match number five, it’s not surprising that they don’t fully appreciate the player they have in Maxwell.
Speaking of Henriques, if you were the selector and you had to choose between him and Maxwell for the test team, who would you pick? If I was to tell you that Henriques had played more first class cricket, scored less first class runs and had a batting average 10.60 runs lower than Maxwell, would you change your mind?
Maxwell can hit a ball as far as any in the game, can play any shot in the book and has fielding abilities at least the equal of the best in the world. Although at times he may do it in a manner that has your heart in your throat, he is a man who can win a game for his team in every discipline of the game. ‘The Big Show’ nickname, despite mischievous team-mates false suggestions of it being self-proclaimed, is well earnt.
Despite his match winning ability his capabilities are more questioned than admired by those who I talk cricket with. His unorthodoxy no doubt plays a part in this, as does some inexplicable and highly publicised brain snaps, I don’t have to remind anyone of his BBL ‘leave’. (If I do, or you just want to shake your head over it again, you can read The Sportress’ thoughts on the matter from the time here).
The main gripes seem to centre on a belief that when dismissed playing unorthodox shots, Maxwell seems to not respect his ability, his position in the national team, the sanctity of international cricket, the Geneva convention, the fact that ‘I’ comes before ‘E’ except after ‘C’ or all of the above. The zenith of criticism for him came after Australia’s second Test defeat against Pakistan in 2014.
Australia fell 356 runs short of the winning target with Maxwell and six of his team mates registering scores of less than six. Maxwell, however, was the only one of the seven to be dismissed playing a reverse sweep. Cue the mass frothing of the mouth led ably by the less than measured ramblings of former Australian Skipper Kim Hughes.
“Honestly, his effort at number three was disgraceful and he really should struggle to ever play Test Cricket again” the Western Australian ranted, but he wasn’t finished “it was disrespectful to play a reverse sweep.”
If you enter Glenn Maxwell reverse sweep into google you are bombarded with links to videos of the man using the shot to clear the rope. (If you are too lazy to but still want to see outrageous boundaries set to a jazz sound track click here). While the videos aren’t of him doing so in test cricket, I think the fact that there are copious amounts of videos of him successfully utilising the shot is important to note.
In the midst of the outrage Maxwell was quoted as saying “they back me to play that reverse sweep no matter the situation of the game. They understand for me that it’s no different from a cover drive for any other batter” he continued “they accept the fact that for me it’s a normal shot, it’s no different from someone else getting beaten in defence.”
At the time his words were like fuel on the fire with many thinking these the thoughts of an arrogant player who needed to learn better. A few years on, his continual success in implementing the shot suggest there might have been more truth than delusion in his words.
His body of work suggests that he succeeds when attempting the outrageous more often than he fails. At the end of the day, I think this is what needs to be understood when evaluating ‘The Big Show’. He is a match-winner and is so because he is unorthodox, instinctive and improvisational. If you are happy to marvel at his audacity when it comes off like it did in Sri Lanka, you need to be equally accepting of it when it doesn’t.