Glenn Maxwell hit a stunning 95 off 43 balls in the Indian Premier League the other day. My initial reaction, like some of his previous successes, was to brace myself for the backlash from those in the cricketing public who suffer from tall poppy syndrome.
Despite his obvious profound talent, Maxwell confusingly seems to be one of the most divisive players in world cricket.
Nearly every horrified cricket purist seems to have an argument as to why his career is eventually going to be dramatically snuffed out.
I want to boldly predict now, he’s going to become a regular Test selection.
Much of the objections to ‘The Big Show’, a moniker that was actually given to him by Victorian teammate Matthew Wade, seems to be directed at his brash innovation and apparent arrogance when he takes the field.
Maxwell often seems to slash at balls with the leverage of Happy Gilmore and the casual façade of a fourth-grade club cricketer.
At times he has appeared to be lured into the psychological battle for alpha male with a bowler, rather than winning a match or posting a big total.
He’s at times reversed swept a bowler to the boundary from three consecutive balls to simply prove his dominance, then while trying it for a fourth time has been stupidly dismissed.
Before we all shake our heads at his immaturity, let’s remember this concept of playing alpha games within a game of cricket has been going on forever. I actually love this X-factor element to cricket.
When Sir Garfield Sobers, Herschelle Gibbs and Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in an over, they weren’t necessarily giving full regard to their wicket or even ensuring they post a big total for their side.
Instead, what could be better than totally humiliating a bowler with six big ones over the rope?
A young and brave Adam Gilchrist blasted 77 off 88 balls in his ODI debut before he even played a Test and managed to hit Allan Donald for a huge six.
Donald famously said to him, “Where the hell is the respect in this game?”
Maxwell often fits this category. He also sometimes reminds me of a young Steve Waugh.
Waugh was actually told off once by the great Barry Richards in a junior cricket clinic because he continually smashed every bowler out of the nets. To a thirteen-year-old Waugh, there was nothing better to do in the game of cricket.
Richards frankly told him that if he was to continue doing that he should give-up the game altogether.
Years later playing for Australia, a still very young Waugh had the hide to bowl bouncers at Sir Viv Richards and the crowd loved him for it.
I just wonder if Maxwell is a player in the mould of Waugh, who could harness the same grit, stubbornness and arrogance in the face of a feisty opposition and win many Test matches for Australia.
In spite of any reputation, Maxwell actually has the first class record to suggest he just might have what it takes to be a batting all-rounder in the Test side.
The likes of Shaun Marsh, Alex Doolan, Ed Cowan and Rob Quiney have all made appearances in the Test side over the past few years. Maxwell’s first class average of 41.04 comfortably beats all of them.
Maxwell was like a rare diamond in a very rough and forgettable summer for Victoria this past season.
His class was no more obvious than when New South Wales thumped the Victorians by an innings and 48 runs back in February.
Victoria plummeted to 6 for 9 in their second dig, the worst ever start to an innings in Sheffield Shield history, before Maxwell blasted a quicker than a run a ball 127 to lift his team to 186.
Victoria only scored 404 runs in the whole match; Glenn made 221 of them.
Maxwell is already starting to flourish into one of Australia’s better players in the shorter formats. He is also one of the best fielders in the country and bowls handy off-spin.
Whether he can turn reasonable first class results into big Test tons remains to be seen, but I sure hope they give him the opportunity to try.
This rare talent will certainly need a considerable amount of coaching and discipline along the way, but the future looks bright for Australian cricket while the likes of Maxwell are at the top.