Simply put, Glenn Maxwell does not feel his contributions to the longest form of cricket have been valued appropriately.
The innovative shot making and the destructive batting technique have come to define the batting all-rounder’s style, and Bazball has been just the latest reminder such flair has a place in the Test arena.
Players for years have been instructed that only batting time would see them reap the rewards in red-ball cricket. It is certainly not the style that has helped the 33-year-old become one of the most belligerent players on the planet. Nor is he a stranger to being criticized for what are deemed ‘reckless’ shots.
Glenn Maxwell’s innovative shot making has graced the white-ball game for many years
But he feels his destructive technique was never valued the same way in red-ball cricket
‘For so long, whenever I played a reverse sweep, it was frowned upon and it’s become a staple of Test cricket wherever you play in the world,’ he tells sportsmail ahead of his Hundred debut for London Spirit. ‘Everyone plays it, so it’s like ”where was this six years ago”?
‘It would have been nice when I was playing, if people would have looked at me and gone ”oh visionary”. uzzie [Usman Khawaja] plays 300 of them and he’s a superstar, gets 150 and like, bow down to him.’
Maxwell has played just seven Tests for Australia since his debut against India in 2013, the last of which came in September 2017 in Bangladesh.
In his stop-start Test career, Maxwell averages 26.07 with the bat and 42.62 with the ball, bowling off-spin. But even five years ago Maxwell noticed a positive difference in the perception of him from others, regardless of his Test record.
Maxwell has played just seven Tests for Australia, the last of which was in Bangladesh in 2017
‘It’s certainly nice to have support, where I feel like I probably didn’t have that in the early days of my Test career,’ he says. ‘It was probably the other way around, where it was just like, no, you can’t have this guy on the team.
‘So it’s sort of nice to see it change. When I came back into the side in 2017 it felt like there was a real shift of positivity coming my way, which was rare. So it’s nice to have that positivity and that shift of your perceptions for a change as well.
‘And I think different things have sort of led to that. I think being able to captain the Melbourne Stars, be on the mic repeatedly for that, be able to sort of show your personality, talk a little bit more maturely in front of groups and be a little bit more measured in the things you say.
‘I know I feel a bit calmer and less a radical, I think, as I did as a young player coming up or even five years ago, where I probably still wasn’t settled in any side. It was always like I was always one or two failures away from being under pressure and I feel like that sort of slipped away in the shorter formats.
Maxwell was speaking to Sportsmail ahead of London Spirit’s first game in the Hundred
‘Now it feels there’s a bit more trust in what I bring to the team and with that brings consistency and better performances. So it’s been nice to sort of have that sort of weight lifted off your shoulders a little bit.’
Maxwell insists the method of getting run has not changed much over the years, barring a little more confidence to play certain shots. So what have you brought about the significant upturn?
‘I could not be happier with the time I’ve played. I could not be happier,’ he adds.
‘I feel like just generally whenever I speak to people, they seem a lot happier. Just they don’t sort of either turn their nose up on me or ask me a question that might be about my personality or something that’s gone wrong.
‘It’s like, “we love seeing you play” and it’s, all of a sudden, become a positive spin instead of looking for a negative connotation or trying to find something off [with my game].
‘I have become a little bit more stable off the field as well and being able to just be okay and at home with mistakes and not putting as much pressure on myself knowing that I’m doing the right things on and off the field.’
Maxwell insists captaining the Melbourne Stars has helped him become more measured
Playing by the rules has led Maxwell to become a senior figure in the white-ball setup, and his desire to add a second World T20 crown to the one Australia won last year is obvious. But it has yet to lead to a Test recall.
Such a situation appeared even unlikely to him in January last year, when he seemingly accepted his red-ball career with Australia was over, saying he did not think he stood ‘anywhere near’ the side.
But he came back into the thinking after nearly five years of exile in June to play against Sri Lanka in Galle after Travis Head had suffered a hamstring injury in the preceding ODI series against the same nation.
Not for the first time in his career though, Maxwell was ultimately overlooked, a feeling he admits left him ‘shattered’ despite accepting the right decision had been made once Head had passed a fitness test.
‘Just before that Test squad was announced, I had no thoughts in my mind that I was going to be playing Test cricket or even being involved. And I was sort of at peace. I wasn’t even thinking about it.
‘Then as soon as I got told I was going to be involved, new emotions came back from when I was last in the Test squad and the excitement of being back around the group and being able to make a difference. I thought, ”I feel like I’m ready”.
His desire to add a second World T20 crown to the one Australia won last year is obvious
‘I loved the training aspect of it, I loved working with the coaches and coming up with new tactics to deal with difficult spin bowling and balls exploding. It was just so much fun and I felt so ready to go every game.
‘I’m glad Heady got through his fitness test because I’d have hated to be in because of an injury to one of your players. Unfortunately they changed the conditions. If it was the same conditions for both Tests, I probably would have played.
‘But they made a slightly better wicket and the selectors made the right call. But… you still really want to play. As soon as you feel like you’re a chance.
‘I tried not to get too excited or get my hopes up too much because I know, having been in that situation so many times and been on the wrong side of it, the ups and downs of selection and the 50-50 calls… but yeah, I allowed myself to get a little bit too excited.
‘And I was shattered when I got told. It wasn’t that I thought they made the wrong call, I was just genuinely disappointed. It was just like I really wanted to play but I loved being apart of it and the thought of playing again.’
Maxwell was in contention for a Test recall earlier this year but ultimately missed out
Combine his close, but not quite close enough moment in Sri Lanka with failing to make the squad that won 1-0 in Pakistan, two opportunities to face major Test-playing nations in sub-continental conditions have passed him by.
The only remaining opportunity in the immediate future is the tour of India in February and March next year.
It is the country which is even more special to Maxwell now, not only because it is where he made his Test bow and his first red-ball century for Australia, but because in March he married Vini Raman, who is of Indian heritage.
So how optimistic is he of playing against Rohit Sharma and Co in 2023?
‘Well, I feel like I’m getting closer. And there’s no weddings planned for next year! That was certainly done. Hopefully she [Vini] doesn’t want to have a one year anniversary. But yeah, it feels like I’m in a good place.
Maxwell married long-term partner Vini Raman – who is of Indian heritage – in March this year
‘The selectors have talked about that subcontinent tour and the next one. And they sort of just asked “what do you need to get ready, would shield cricket make a difference”?
‘I said “no it won’t” because the conditions are just so different over there and it’s certainly hard to prepare for spinning tracks in Australia during our first class games.
‘I think we’re able to still get nets up in Melbourne that can spin and do some different things.
‘Last year I had a preseason at Junction Oval, where we would use the same pitches, maybe four or five net sessions in a row and by the fifth net session they were basically India that was and it was awesome. They were the best net sessions I had.’