“You’re just crossing paths with players all over the place, whether county cricket, IPL, all around the world,” he said, “so it’s hard to keep that deadpan, killer instinct during the game and just ignoring people.
“I’ve always known through my whole career that when I play with freedom and I’m relaxed in my head … that I’ll naturally get results.”
“You probably won’t survive in the game if you keep doing that. There’s going to be all of a sudden a reputation about you, and teams won’t want to pick you up. But to be able to play the game hard and fair but still keep your friendships intact, I think is more the modern way of playing.
“I know it’s more enjoyable for me, because I love having fun and I love playing with a smile on my face. To be able to play against friends who I consider family sometimes and not shy away from the competition, but still be able to have a good hard contest and never have it get in the way of our friendships off the field.”
As a cricketer, too, Maxwell’s roles in the national side seemed as variable as the mood swings of the selectors. Over a decade, he has batted at least 18 times in no fewer than five different positions in the order, and played everywhere from opener to No.8.
After the 2019 World Cup, where Maxwell batted everywhere from Nos. 4-7 and managed a top score of only 46, his international career might well have petered out. He took a break for his mental health in late 2019, earning plaudits for doing so. Another catalyst for refreshment arrived through the unlikely source of COVID-19.
In biosecure one-on-one net sessions with white-ball skipper Aaron Finch before the 2020 tour to England, Maxwell’s job was clarified – not in terms of batting position, but overs. Come what may, Maxwell would come in to bat in the last 15 overs of an innings, whether Twenty20 or ODI. He excelled in the role in England, and has owned it ever since.
There was a statistical basis to all this: according to the Australian team’s metrics, Maxwell is the world’s most destructive player, bar none, in the final 10 overs of an innings with five fielders allowed outside the circle.
“They just said, ‘Look, this is going to be your role the whole time, just get used to it – we’re not going to stuff around with it’,” Maxwell recalled. “Because I think the previous three or four years I’d been up and down the order, depending on how I was batting, which was really hard to get used to one way of playing.
“So I’d bat well at seven or six and then get moved up to four, then get moved back to six, then I’d be out of the side. It didn’t make a lot of sense. So to be locked into one position and just hear ‘we’ll keep you there and work everything else out’, it was perfect. It’s nice to know my role really clearly and play it with complete freedom and not have to worry about too many things.”
As for what’s next, with a collection of white-ball series either side of the Twenty20 World Cup on home soil – for which he is front and centre of the tournament’s marketing campaign – the Maxwell mindset is as clear as his batting role.
“I wouldn’t say I don’t want to achieve anything, but I just want to relax and enjoy myself,” he said. “I’m at that stage of my career where I don’t put too much pressure on myself for performances and it’s helped with my performances – shock, surprise!
“It’s one of those things where even during the Hundred I didn’t put too much pressure on myself but I found that I struck the ball really well. I didn’t do anything different with my practice or my training. I just went into the game really clear, relaxed and happy, and I found the ball becomes a bit easier to see, the game moves at its natural pace and I’m able to play with freedom.
“I’ve always known through my whole career that when I play with freedom and I’m relaxed in my head and mentally fresh that I’ll naturally get results.
“As long as I can keep that free, that’s the way I’ll try to play for the rest of my career. Play relaxed, free cricket and adapt to whatever I see in front of me. If it’s good enough on the day, so be it.”
At 33, married and completely comfortable in his own skin, it’s possible that the very best of Glenn Maxwell may be just around the corner.
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