The only surprising aspect about Glenn Maxwell at the IPL 2021 auction was that he was not the most expensive acquisition. That honour befell former RCB player Chris Morris, who was snapped up by the Rajasthan Royals for a whopping Rs 16.25 crore.
Nevertheless, Glenn Maxwell did not come cheap. The Royal Challengers Bangalore staved off a determined Chennai Super Kings, dishing out Rs 14.25 crore for the services of the Australian all-rounder.
Considering his devastating prowess, Glenn Maxwell has always been a high-value target in IPL auctions. Since the Mumbai Indians dished out Rs 5.3 crore for him in 2013, Glenn Maxwell has seen his value rise by an astounding 168%.
Despite managing to land Glenn Maxwell, the Royal Challengers Bangalore were trolled mercilessly. That was because the Australian had an underwhelming IPL 2020 campaign in the UAE, failing to hit a single six and scoring a meagre 108 runs in 13 games at an un-Maxwell-like strike-rate of 101.88.
Moreover, Glenn Maxwell has struggled in the IPL in recent years. He last scored 300+ runs in an IPL campaign in 2017. So his arrival at the Royal Challengers Bangalore has been met with cautious optimism.
Nevertheless, here are three reasons why RCB and Maxwell look like a perfect match and why this could be Glenn Maxwell's most impressive IPL campaign yet.
#1 Glenn Maxwell is not the main man at RCB
Glenn Maxwell comes to RCB as a star, but he is not the biggest name on the team sheet. Many would argue he wouldn't even make the top 3.
Virat Kohli is the undisputed No.1, and AB de Villiers can practically call Bangalore his second home. Yuzvendra Chahal’s exploits and popularity on social media arguably make him the third-most popular player at the franchise.
That could help Glenn Maxwell rediscover his mojo in the IPL. All too often at the Kings XI Punjab (now called Punjab Kings), the Australian struggled under the burden of responsibility. At the forefront of a floundering middle-order, Glenn Maxwell struggled to play his natural game in the IPL last year.
However, his role in the Australian side gives an insight on how to best use Glenn Maxwell. The team has taken away the responsibility of him being the sole all-rounder/finisher in the side, with Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell collectively performing that role.
The freedom afforded to Glenn Maxwell has helped unleash his attacking prowess once again. In the last two years, the right-hander has scored 342 runs in ten T20Is while also picking up three wickets.
With other stars around him at RCB, Glenn Maxwell will not have the pressure to perform every game. That could help the Australian return to his explosive best, something that would only augur well for RCB's title hopes in the tournament.
Moreover, Glenn Maxwell will not the be leader at RCB and will also not be their marquee foreign player.
He will just be a power hitter who will come in after some of the world’s best batsmen and do what he does best: take on the opposition attack literally from ball one.
#2 The Chinnaswamy Stadium could play to his strengths
Venues play an integral role in the IPL. That is why CSK load their side with spinners, and Mumbai Indians always have a plethora of international pacers.
Similarly, the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore could suit Glenn Maxwell perfectly. The boundaries are small compared to other Indian stadiums, and the ground is known to be a high-scoring venue.
Even the pitch at the Chinnaswamy doesn’t have as many demons in it like a Chepauk, for instance. The surface will allow Glenn Maxwell to trust the bounce and clear the rope more often than not.
The crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium could be an appealing factor too. Over the years, they have feasted on the entertainment provided by the likes Kohli, De Villiers and Chris Gayle.
Glenn Maxwell is someone who can play to the galleries with both his on-field antics and cricketing ability, which could endear himself to the RCB faithful.
#3 Glenn Maxwell's role at RCB would be a flexible one
When asked about Glenn Maxwell's role, RCB’s Director of Cricket Mike Hesson said that the franchise is yet to figure out how to get the best out of the swashbuckling Australian.
That possibly means the 32-year-old could have a flexible role in the playing XI, which could only augur well for Glenn Maxwell's chances of prospering at the franchise.
“Often Maxwell has been used in a finisher role; he is a multi-skilled player, and he can bowl off-spin as well. It depends on what the team wants; we all look at how to bring the best out of him. We were after the X factor player, and we got that in the form of Maxwell,” said Hesson.
The fact that Maxwell doesn’t have a set role in the side could actually help him find success at RCB.
The Australian is at his best when he is given the freedom to play the way he wants. He is undoubtedly a player with an X-factor, one who can single-handedly win a few games in a season. For that to happen, he will need to be given a consistent run without forcing him to play a particular way.
RCB’s roster make-up would facilitate that. Glenn Maxwell is not expected to be the side’s top scorer. Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers are likely to face most of the deliveries. So Glenn Maxwell would need to simply express himself and have some fun in the middle without bothering too much about the match situation.
In the bowling department, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal’s presence means Glenn Maxwell could only be a part-time bowler. That would take the pressure off Maxwell to consistently show up with the ball as well. He warrants a place in the side even if he occasionally bowls a couple of overs, at best.
With the possibility of Glenn Maxwell playing at No. 5 and Daniel Christian or Kyle Jamieson coming in next, RCB could reap rich dividends off Glenn Maxwell.
Having another power-hitting all-rounder in a Stoinis-like role behind him would take the pressure off Maxwell. He won’t be the side’s only finisher, which would free him from the burden of firing every time in the death overs.
A fearless Glenn Maxwell could be a dangerous proposition. Play him right, and the RCB would have a bonafide impact player in their ranks. If Glenn Maxwell lets loose, the Royal Challengers Bangalore could even hope to go all the way in IPL 2021.
All the signs point to a possibly successful IPL season for both Glenn Maxwell and RCB. However, it remains to be seen how things eventually pan out.