Glenn Maxwell – you either love him or you hate him. ‘The Big Show’ is a prime example of a player shaped by the modern game: he reverse sweeps as much as he cover drives, rushes through his overs as though he has dinner plans, and always plays with the flair of a shooting star. But is this the future of cricket? One where conservatism and patience is completely ignored in the face of speed and aggression?
Contrary to the views of apparent ‘experts’ from previous generations, Maxwell clearly has talent. The 25-year-old batting all-rounder averages over 40 with the bat in first class cricket despite the devastating rate at which he scores. His one-day record is even more impressive, averaging 36 with the bat at a strike rate a tick under 130. Add to that his T20 average of 25 at a strike rate of 160 and it’s little wonder he attracts so much media attention.
He is constantly criticised for his shot selection and lack of maturity in arduous situations, yet a minority would argue this logic is flawed. In a recent Sheffield Shield match for Victoria, Maxwell entered the crease with his team in the vulnerable position of six wickets for nine runs. He then proceeded to belt 127 off 102 balls as his team crawled to a total of 186. Maxwell’s best form of defence is attack. In times of adversity, you are always instructed to be yourself. Maxwell’s natural game is unique, but is that such a bad thing?
His newfound consistency in T20 cricket has been extremely entertaining to all followers of the game. It’s exciting to witness flashes of brilliance and sheer innovation. Maxwell has the talent to perform on the Test arena, but some would question whether he is up for the challenge. One only has to look at the transformation of David Warner to know it’s possible. But Warner has the orthodox cricket shots and rock-solid defence. Could Maxwell excel on the Test arena with his unorthodox instincts? He has to have the temperament and dedication to fine-tune his game, and the burning desire to do so.
Say he develops his consistency such that his aggressive and innovative nature leads to compelling results in first class cricket. Will his unorthodox style be beneficial or detrimental to Test cricket? Would the cricket world be comfortable with the reverse sweep being utilised more than the classical cover drive? Perhaps he is the first prototype of the future cricketer, one who does find the reverse sweep more comfortable than the cover drive. And this development is something the cricket world will have to become accustomed to. Whether it is liked or not, T20 cricket has led to the innovation we see in the modern game. Eventually this innovation will leak into Test cricket as well.
Maxwell’s an enigma, and one who will always receive criticism for the way in which he plays. His supreme confidence can drown out those negatives, but is he really developing into a world-class player? Only time will tell. His career will provide a guide to the future though, and one which we shall all watch shrouded in wonder.