Glenn Maxwell © Getty Images
Glenn Maxwell (right) felt that he hasn’t done enough to be included in the playing XI in Tests for Australia © Getty Images

By Saj Sadiq

Glenn Maxwell emerged on the international circuit with a bang, scoring a match winning 56 in only his second international game, a One-Day International (ODI) against Pakistan, including a six to win the match. From there on, his star has been on the rise, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The performances kept on coming steadily, including a 74 against Pakistan in the 2014 World T20 that nearly made Pakistan’s total of 191 look insufficient.

A few months later, in the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL), larger scores would indeed prove insufficient for the opposition as Maxwell added the sorely missing ingredient, consistency, to his already explosive batting, notching up several scores in excess of 80 at strike rates approaching, and often exceeding, 200. In the limited overs series against Pakistan later in the same year, Maxwell finally started making a mark with the ball too, cementing his status as a genuine all-rounder, finishing with the second highest number of wickets and third highest number of runs for Australia to win the player of the series award.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Maxwell discusses his style of batting, how he felt as he bowled the fateful final over in the third ODI at Abu Dhabi, his aspirations for the longer format and the recent controversy regarding illegal bowling actions.

PakPassion.net (PP): Were you expecting a whitewash in the one-day series against Pakistan or was the result beyond your expectations?

Glenn Maxwell (GM): We went into the series hoping for a whitewash and we worked hard to achieve it in the end. Obviously the games were a little bit closer than we would have liked but we didn’t bat quite as well as we should have in the three games, but without playing our best cricket we were good enough to get over the line in all three matches which is a very good sign.

 

PP: What was going through your mind before you bowled that amazing last over in the third one day international?

GM : The plan in that match was to get the earlier breakthroughs from our quick bowlers, before the 47th over when we knew that we would be bowling three overs of spin at the end. The ninth-wicket partnership batted well and put on 22 runs and got through the last couple of overs from our quick bowlers. I think Pakistan needed 18 runs from the last three overs between Xavier [Doherty] and I.

When you are only defending two runs from a full over, then you hope for a bit of luck and hope the batsmen miss a couple. It was basically about bowling at the stumps and hoping they miss and mess it up. It was Pakistan’s game to lose and luckily enough they lost it.

PP: You seem to have a free role in the Australian batting unit and given license to play your shots and unsettle the opposition. Is that a fair assessment of what’s required of you with the bat?

GM: I’m not playing shots from ball one. You have to get yourself into the game and play yourself in even as an attacking batsman. Unfortunately, I had two good starts against Pakistan but was unable to go on and make a big score. If you don’t go on and make a big score especially after getting into the game, then that is really frustrating.

I feel that I’m not too far away from a big score but I need to get through the twenties and turn them into a big score.

 

PP: Your approach to your batting against Pakistan typified your career, in that you were very positive and looking to dominate the bowlers, whereas the Pakistani batsmen looked circumspect at the crease?

GM: Yes the way we go about our batting is to be busy at the start of our innings. It’s not about going for your shots from ball one, it’s about looking to rotate the strike and keeping the batsman who is in, on strike and basically getting yourself into the game. As a batsman just coming to the crease, the best chance you have is to spend as much time as possible at the non-striker’s end watching the other guy go about his business. The other day I came in and watching Steven Smith at the other end really helped me, particularly the way he was manipulating the field. I think that’s what Australians are good at and the key to our success in the One-Day series against Pakistan.

I’m actually quite happy that they’ve started doing it. I think it’s actually started to happen a bit too late. It seems to have been going on for too long and it’s something that’s been talked about a lot in quite a few changing rooms and in the media as well.

 

PP: You mention Steve Smith, he was one of the stars of the series against Pakistan, you must be delighted for him?

GM: Yes, he’s turned his Test form into limited overs cricket which is a great sign for Australian cricket and a great sign for him. He’s played extremely well in the last 18 months in Australian colours and he’s just going from strength to strength. I was extremely surprised to see he didn’t have a One-Day fifty before the series against Pakistan and I’m certain he’ll add a lot more hundreds to that list now that he’s got a lot of confidence. He’s hitting the ball beautifully and timing his innings very well also.

 

PP: Were you surprised that Misbah-ul-Haq didn’t play in the third ODI in Abu Dhabi?

GM: I was surprised to see him not playing but I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in Pakistan cricket and when you arrive at the ground you are never sure who you are going to be up against especially after they’d lost the first two games. They had to make some changes and I guess he opted to sit out himself.

Yes it would be nice to get a call-up but I don’t think I’ve quite done enough in the One-Day series against Pakistan to warrant a call-up to the Test side.

PP: Looking ahead to the Test series a format which you’ve only played twice in. You must be hopeful for a chance against Pakistan especially given the nature of the wickets in the UAE?

GM: Yes it would be nice to get a call-up but I don’t think I’ve quite done enough in the One-Day series against Pakistan to warrant a call-up to the Test side. I think I’ve missed a couple of opportunities to make a big score and push my name forward for selection, but you never know as the conditions will suit an off-spinning all-rounder and hopefully I can find my way into the starting eleven. It’s an extremely strong line-up though but fingers crossed.

 

PP: What are your thoughts on the recent spate of off-spinners being reported for illegal bowling actions?

GM: I’m actually quite happy that they’ve started doing it. I think it’s actually started to happen a bit too late. It seems to have been going on for too long and it’s something that’s been talked about a lot in quite a few changing rooms and in the media as well.

Now we are going to see a lot more conventional off-spinners doing the job in international cricket which I think is good for the game and it levels the playing field again and hopefully it stays that way.

 

PP: Attendances weren’t great during the One-Day series and crowds will be sparse during the Tests also. How difficult is it to play in near empty stadia?

GM: It should be an interesting experience but we are used it as First-Class cricket in Australia is played in front of low crowds and with very few people attending so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock for us.

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net, from where the above article has been reproduced. He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion)