The Fury

Australian cricket player Glenn Maxwell playing for Victoria in the Ryobi Cup.
Glenn Maxwell (via NAPARAZZI, Flickr)

Indian Premier League, 21st match: Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians at Mohali, Apr 25, 2016

17.1
Bumrah to Maxwell, OUT, bowled, is that the game? It could as well be. A slower delivery outside off, Maxwell looks to bludgeon it over cover but is through the shot too early, a thick inside edge clips the leg stump. Nice innings from Maxi though.

“Fuck’s sake!” yelled Glenn Maxwell as he wandered off the field, angrily ripping his gloves off.

It’s hard not to love a guy who does this at the nerve-shredding climax of a World Cup match. It’s also hard not to love a guy who banters with Kieron Pollard at the start of his innings — “looks like you’ve been enjoying your time off” — and blows up in fury at its premature end.

The crowd-baiting and opponent-taunting is Maxwell’s default state. He is never short of a word, and because he is articulate enough to avoid curses in most of his on-field banter, he is often miked up for the broadcaster’s benefit.

Maxwell is, however, out of form. A remarkable stat came up on the screen during Kings XI Punjab’s loss to Mumbai Indians: this was only his second fifty in 33 IPL innings in India. This is the guy who seemed to have taken batting to a new level when the 2014 IPL kicked off in the United Arab Emirates, and who had since developed into one of the first picks in Australian limited overs teams: a reliable performer with bat and ball. And if those parts of his game misfire, he is worth an extra ten to twenty runs in the field.

It is riveting to watch a player out of form drag themselves back from the brink. That was what this Maxwell innings gave us. The words with Pollard at its outset were an anchor, a reminder that he was out there to enjoy himself. But it soon became clear that the switch hits and no-look cut shots were in the kit bag, eschewed in favour of bunts into the leg side and ripping cover drives. Proper cricket shots.

Not that this back-to-basics approach relaxed him. Quite the opposite: the longer it went on, the more desperate he became to turn it into a winning knock. He berated his batting partners whenever an opportunity to run two was missed, and he berated himself whenever he swung at thin air. There was one immense six off Tim Southee that seemed to signal a return to the free-swinging Maxwell of old.

But then he was gone, throwing the kitchen sink at a Jasprit Bumrah slower ball. It collected the inside edge of his bat and banged into leg stump, cannoning back up in front of his face. Maxwell was so furious he almost swung his bat at it again, but quickly caught himself with a sheepish look up at the umpire.

He bit down firmly on his bottom lip until he was out of the umpires’ earshot. Then came the torrent of curses. Kings XI Punjab lost, again, but these were good signs from their marquee player: the strokeplay, the passion. At 27, he is still developing.

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