Cricketer of the Week (January 26 - February 1): Glenn Maxwell
Australia and England competed in the final of the Carlton Mid tri-series at the WACA in Perth on Sunday. After winning the toss, Eoin Morgan opted to bowl first and that decision seemed to have paid dividends after James Anderson picked both openers cheaply with the score on 33.
George Bailey failed yet again, giving his wicket away to Stuart Broad, who got him caught by James Taylor and when the in-form Steve Smith was stumped off the bowling of Moeen Ali, Australia were reeling at 60 for 4.
Rescuing Australia from troubled waters
The responsibility of getting the side out of troubled waters now rested on the shoulders of Glenn Maxwell. The 26-year-old right-hander started scoring boundaries when required and rotated the strike on other occasions. The pleasing aspect about his play on Sunday was the manner in which he looked to score runs through correct cricketing shots early on in his innings.
Once he got settled in the middle, he brought out his trademark reverse sweeps and got to his half-century off just 64 balls, courtesy that stroke off the bowling of Ali. After he crossed the 50-run mark, he began to unleash his strokes on the England bowlers, smashing them to all parts of the ground.
However, in the quest of reaching his maiden ODI ton in a glorious manner, Maxwell completely mistimed a pull and was caught by Jos Buttler off the bowling of Broad, thereby falling 5 short of the three figure mark. He had put on a run-a-ball 141 for the fifth wicket with Mitchell Marsh, who scored 60 and helped Australia recover from a difficult situation.
Maxwell continues his brilliance with the ball
Maxwell carried that confidence with the bat onto the field in the second innings, when he pulled off a very good catch to dismiss James Taylor off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson and then removed Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad with his own bowling to finish with figures of 4 for 46 in 9 overs to round off a terrific day for him on the field.
Australia won the game by the 112 runs and the Victorian was rightly adjudged the man of the match for his all-round effort. He also became the first cricketer to score 95 or more runs and pick up a minimum of 4 wickets in an ODI.
Speaking about the needless shot that he played when he was so close to a hundred, Maxwell said that he was gutted to have got out in that manner and considering that he had done all the hard work to reach this far, he had earned the right to bat during the final 10 overs of the innings.
"I think I did a lot of the hard to work to get myself to that stage, allow myself to have that bit of fun at the end where I could express myself and take advantage of the team that I had basically negated for 20 overs,” the Victorian said.
"So I felt like I earned the right to bat in the last 10 overs and to get out in a pretty soft way. I was extremely disappointed, especially because I wasn't trying to hit a boundary, trying to hit into the gap, one or two. Try to play safe, I probably should have reverse swept it or something. I shouldn't have done something silly.”
Despite being a bit inconsistent in his performances, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Maxwell has indeed come a long way as a cricketer after making his international debut in 2012 against Afghanistan in Sharjah. He was one of the key reasons for his IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab reaching the final of the IPL in 2014 and there is no doubt that if he puts up all round performances like the way he did on Sunday, he would certainly become an important player in the Australian middle-order in years to come.
In the end, Maxwell saw off stiff competition from Kumar Sangakkara and Hashim Amla to bag the honours this week.
You can catch the past winners of this series on this link: Recent Cricketers of the Week