Glenn Maxwell: 'I'm excited about red-ball cricket'

In an interview with Sportstar, the 360-degree strokemaker Glenn Maxwell chats about his red-ball credentials, his Test debut, his influences, and his shot-making.

Glenn Maxwell: "Having that boundary ability is a massive advantage over a lot of other players and teams, because they just don’t know where to bowl to you if you can hit the same ball to five or six different areas."   -  Getty Images

"That hundred against the West Indies in the World Cup was as good a knock as you’ll see. Every now and then I watch it on YouTube and just marvel at how good it was. The guy’s a superstar." - Maxwell on AB de Villiers   -  Getty Images

In the third One-Day International (ODI) against India in Melbourne last week, Glenn Maxwell made a superb 96 to guide Australia to a series victory. It was a match-winning innings; the batsman uncharacteristically demonstrated the sort of patience he had not previously shown. Three days later, he smashed a 20-ball-41 in Canberra, leaving Ishant Sharma and India somewhat dazed.

Maxwell’s talent has never been in doubt but he now believes he has begun to complement his natural ability with responsibility. In this interview, conducted a day ahead of the fifth ODI in Sydney, Maxwell speaks of his red-ball credentials, his influences, and his shot-making.

The excerpts:

His shot-making: It’s mainly self-taught. I watched a lot of cricket growing up and watching other people innovate — Mike Hussey, Michael Bevan, Jonty Rhodes. I wanted to be like that, hit all the areas these guys could.

I just practised my shots, and having good hand-eye co-ordination probably helps as well. Growing up, I always wanted to be an entertainer. I wanted to play cricket the way I would like to watch it played.

Playing unorthodox shots: Having that boundary ability is a massive advantage over a lot of other players and teams, because they just don’t know where to bowl to you if you can hit the same ball to five or six different areas. But that’s also a massive disadvantage at the same time because you’ve got all these shots in your head.

The reverse-sweep off Ishant: As he was running in, I didn’t think about it too much, but there was just something in his load-up that made me think I was going to reverse-sweep it. Most of my reverse-sweeps are pre-meditated, because of the fields people set.

And if you get into a rhythm against someone, you understand where the ball is coming from and where he’s going to bowl to you, and you actually get a key idea of where the ball is going.

First-class cricket: Not a lot of people have seen me play first-class cricket. They’ve seen me play three Tests in five or six different batting positions, even opening, which was interesting. But it’s something that I’m excited about, and hopefully someday I can show that I’m a red-ball cricketer. I feel like that’s my best format.

Test debut against India in 2013: I might not have been totally ready at that stage. I got picked more as a bowling all-rounder, whereas I feel like my batting has really improved since then. It was a strange time for me to get picked, and to come up against a red-hot Indian team in their conditions was pretty brutal!

I’m sure a couple of the young Indians are probably thinking the same at the moment, when they come out here. Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan are probably getting a bit of a shock in Australian conditions. I know exactly how they feel, because I experienced the same in another country.

But my red-ball game has improved a hell of a lot since then. It’s been a lot of work. I’ve gone to England a few times to play as much red-ball cricket as I can.

The best entertainers: A.B. de Villiers is No.1 in the world by far. He’s always someone I’ve compared myself to — the way you try and manipulate fields, the way you try to hit the ball into where the fielders aren’t, the way you use the crease.

No one’s going to be like him but you can at least try and emulate some of the things that he does.

That hundred against the West Indies in the World Cup was as good a knock as you’ll see. Every now and then I watch it on YouTube and just marvel at how good it was. The guy’s a superstar. I think middle-order batsmen should be watching as much of him as possible. He’s not a big man but he still strikes the ball miles. He finds gaps and just gets his body into the perfect position to hit the ball.

Battle with R. Ashwin (What runs through his mind): Hit him for six (laughs)! We had a good chat once after an IPL game. We’re similar ages. We’ve got hopefully a long few years playing against each other.

He got me out in a Test match — bowled a carrom ball and I played all around it. It was missing off but it was still given out. Never mind. It’s been a good contest. There were a couple of games in the IPL where I got a hold of him and he got me out in the semifinal. It’s been good fun.