Under the SKanner: Glenn Maxwell in Test Cricket
In limited-overs cricket, Glenn Maxwell has the ability to turn a game on its head. Bowlers can’t afford to stray in line and lengths by even a fraction as Maxwell can make them pay a heavy price. His vast array of strokes can demoralise bowling attacks of the highest quality.
Now let’s shift our focus to Test cricket- a format, which is a completely different ball game altogether. Maxwell’s credentials as a cricketer undoubtedly qualify him for a berth in the ODI and T20 side. However, the question revolves around his aptitude as a player to survive the rigours of Test cricket.
His numbers in his short Test career aren’t intriguing by any stretch of the imagination. However, one also needs to be mindful of the fact that the right-handed Aussie all-rounder is yet to play a game outside sub-continent conditions.
It’s a little too early to make a judgement on Maxwell’s ability as a Test cricketer. As we move ahead, let’s take an insight into his strengths and areas of improvement in Test cricket.
Experience of playing on spitting cobras
“There is no substitute for experience”- As per the saying, gaining experience can turn out to be an asset for a cricketer going into the future. When a cricketer is raw, he tends to commit mistakes and succumb to the pressure more often than not.
As he garners experience with the passage of time, he becomes mature and strong as a cricketer. Maxwell might have an average of 26.07 in seven Test matches, but it doesn’t necessarily display the learnings he accumulated by playing on turning tracks.
Two prime examples of Australia are David Warner and Steve Smith, who played quite a bit of cricket on slow and low wickets. The results showed off as they garnered vital runs when their team needed them the most.
It won’t be surprising if Maxwell uses his experience to good effect and becomes a key component for Australia in their upcoming assignments on sub-continent wickets.
The ability to switch gears
In Test cricket, one needs to respect the playing conditions and adjust one’s game accordingly. To be a successful batsman, one can’t afford to play in a single gear throughout his career. There has to be a perfect blend of attack and defence while batting if one has to succeed at the highest level.
Glenn Maxwell is renowned for going hammer and tongs at the bowling, irrespective of the nature of wickets and quality of bowling. Nevertheless, in Test cricket, he has shown a different approach altogether. He ground hard for a chunk of the innings when he notched up his maiden Test ton against India in Ranchi.
Even in Australia’s erstwhile overseas Test series against Bangladesh, Maxwell was keen to put his head down in order to produce substantial results with the willow. Provided he carries on to work on his skills, he can be a deadly prospect for oppositions even in Test cricket.
Acrobatic in the field
”A run saved is a run scored”, they say - meaning, fielding and catching are of prime essence in cricket. Conceding a couple runs might look minor, but those couple of runs can create a difference between a victory and defeat.
Also, at the end of the day, batsmen need to score those additional runs caused by the blemishes in the outfield. Catching also holds significance as drop-catches might change the complexion of a game and might turn pivotal in context of the match.
This is where the skills of an outfielder like Glenn Maxwell come to the fore. He can effortlessly cut down on a couple of boundaries by throwing himself around in the outfield. Also, he has bucket-like hands, which has enabled him to pouch catches with sheer ease.
It’s always a difficult task for batsmen to pierce gaps, especially when Maxwell is patrolling that particular region.
Pushing hard at the ball
Glenn Maxwell is predominantly a bottom-handed player who likes to hit the ball hard. It’s pretty understandable, since he played most of his games for Australia in One Day and T20 Internationals.
The technique has contributed to his dismissal on quite a few occasions in Test cricket. It’s an area of improvement that Maxwell needs to put emphasis on. Playing with hard hands exerts more pressure on the ball, which allows the ball to carry comfortably to the fielders.
When fielders are surrounding the batsman, it’s necessary to play with a soft bottom hand, especially while defending. Maxwell has all the shots in his book and this minor adjustment can do a world of good to his batting technique.
Inability to convert starts into big scores
During his Test career, Maxwell has mostly batted in the middle order. He has plenty of scores in the region of 20s, 30s and 40s. However, only once has he been able to convert them into a three-figure score. Although he has played only a handful of Test matches, it is imperative for him to somehow make the starts count.
Most Test batsmen have earned the tag of dependability through their consistent performances. For Maxwell to become an integral part of the Test team, he needs to find a way to get the big scores for his team and do the same.
Maxwell is raw in the Test format and has every potential to be Australia’s batting-stalwart in the middle order. However, only time will reveal how he progresses in the most enduring and challenging version of the sport.