Cricketer of the Week (March 2-8): Glenn Maxwell
The week gone by in the 2015 Cricket World Cup saw some outstanding performances from a number of players, with Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara becoming the 1st player to score 3 consecutive centuries in World Cups and Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed scoring 49 against a strong South African attack and taking 6 catches behind the stumps. But it is Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell who wins the Cricketer of the Week for his dazzling display over the last 7 days.
Firstly, it was the Afghanistan players who were at the receiving end of Maxwell’s brilliance. Walking in to bat in the 38th over on Wednesday, Maxwell dominated the bowling right from the outset, playing some unorthodox shots during the course of his innings.
He raced to his fifty in just 21 balls with a reverse sweep boundary off Nabi. By doing so, he equalled the record, held by Brendon McCullum and Mark Boucher, for the 3rd fastest fifty in World Cup history. The onslaught on the bowlers didn't stop there, and he was looking on course to break Kevin O'Brien's record for the fastest hundred in World Cups.
But just when it seemed like he would create history, he was caught in the cover region by Nabi off the bowling of Dawlat Zadran for a 39-ball 88 that contained 6 fours and 7 sixes. The knock helped his side set a mammoth total for Afghanistan to chase down. The Afghans were never really in the hunt during the run chase and eventually succumbed to a 275-run defeat - the biggest margin of victory for a team in World Cups.
Maxwell gets maiden ODI century against Sri Lanka
Maxwell had another chance to get to the elusive three-figure mark during yesterday’s game against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), and the 26-year-old wasn't going to let go of his opportunity this time around. Electing to bat first, the Aussies didn't have the best of starts losing Warner and Aaron Finch early, but Steven Smith and Michael Clarke put on 134 runs for the third wicket before the latter was dismissed for 68 and the Kings XI Punjab batsman walked in to join Smith in the middle.
Unlike on Wednesday, Maxwell began cautiously on Sunday, focusing mainly on ones and twos at the start in between hitting the odd boundary. However, it didn't take him long to up the ante as he capitalised on the power play overs in magnificent fashion.
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews brought back Lasith Malinga during that phase of the innings but even he wasn't spared by Maxwell, who went hell for leather and made full use of the wide gaps in the outfield. Australia amassed 54 runs in those 5 power play overs, 29 of which came from his blade.
He brought up his half-century off just 26 balls with a six off Thisara Perera and continued to punish the Sri Lankan bowlers to all corners of the SCG after reaching the mark.
The right-hander got to his maiden century in ODI cricket off 51 balls, just short of O'Brien's World Cup record, courtesy a chip shot off Seekuge Prasanna. He might not have been able to hit the fastest century in World Cup cricket, but he broke the record for the fastest ton hit by an Australian player in the history of ODIs.
He was gone a few balls later, though, for a fantastic 102 off 53 balls which included 10 fours and 4 sixes. The effort helped his side post a massive score of 376 for 9, which proved to be a bit too much for the Sri Lankans in the end.
During the selection of the 15-man squad for the World Cup, there were a few question marks over whether Maxwell would be able to deliver consistently or whether one would get to see only sporadic pieces of brilliance from him, but with big scores in two successive games, he has definitely shown everyone that he can fire on the biggest stage, too.
You can catch the past winners of this series on this link: Recent Cricketers of the Week