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Glenn Maxwell shows flashes of a modern-day ODI cricketer who can pretty much do everything on the field © Getty Images

By Prakash Govindasreenivasan

Australia’s 25-year-old Glenn James Maxwell wouldn’t have even imagined what was about to come his way at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions in 2013. Till that point in time, Maxwell was taking baby steps in his international career. He got a half-century in only his second One-Day International (ODI) in 2012 and found himself on the plane to Sri Lanka for the ICC World T20 2012.

There were few good performances here and there as he began to find his feet at the highest stage. Few months later in early 2013, he set about scoring a 35-ball knock of 51 and came back to finish with figures of four for 63 while bowling. He showed flashes of a modern-day ODI cricketer who can pretty much do everything on the field.

Yet, when Mumbai Indians bid US $ 1 million for him, it was far-fetched. Given their expansive squad, not many expected Maxwell to play a big role. In fact, he didn’t get to play at all. He was reduced to doing something with a title as cheesy as ‘Inside scoop with Mumbai Indians.’

The ‘million dollar baby’ tag came along and soon became a burden over his head. The young man, however, shrugged it off in style by moving after warming the Mumbai Indians’ bench for an entire season.

The fact that he had already featured and done well in the Australian ODI side was testimony to the fact that he was an exciting talent. The Test debut against India at Hyderabad in 2012 may have come a bit too soon, but he is only ever improving to find himself one spot in that eleven.

Looking at the current scheme of things, he may not be too far off. A loss in the Ashes 2013 series points at the glaring deficiency in the depth in batting. The hard-working bowlers put in all their efforts in vain as the batsmen failed to match their performances. Maxwell, who can probably play as a floater in the ODI side, can also come in handy down the order alongside Brad Haddin in Tests. Maxwell’s ability to hit the ball cleanly, as seen in the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 and the ongoing ODI series in India, makes him a vital cog for Australia’s future in the shorter formats of the game. In limited time, he has proved that he can walk out to demolish a bowling attack and also play the role of an anchor and build an innings.

To add to this, his domestic team Victoria seems to have recognized his efforts and is willing to play him at No 3 in a bid to push his case for Test selection. Maxwell has also received praise from former cricketers like Matthew Hayden who has gone on to make a bold statement that Maxwell, with time and experience, will have as big an impact in limited-overs cricket, much as England’s superstar Kevin Pietersen has had.

The price tag that came along during the IPL has unfairly diverted all the credit that is due to him for starting to turn into an immensely improving cricketer.  The last time a player was mocked for the astonishing price he fetched in the player auctions, he managed to leave all the criticisms behind and move on to become a quintessential part of both his domestic and national sides. In that sense, Maxwell is well on course to go from mockery to fandom a la Ravindra Jadeja.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)