Glenn Maxwell could be Australia’s World Cup trump

Date: February 13, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

The upcoming World Cup will likely to be the heaviest scoring tournament since the event was inaugurated in 1975.

This year’s co-hosted event will be played on true surfaces on either side of the Tasman.

Some of the grounds will feature boundaries that are little larger than what you would expect for an under-16 fixture.

The latest generation bats will again cause headaches for bowlers and captains alike as many mishits will land in the crowd.

But the biggest factor that is likely to lead to a run feast is the way the modern game is played.

Just as the introduction of one-day cricket over time led to an increased scoring rate at Test level, the sport’s newest abbreviated form, Twenty20, has seen an increase in the scoring rate in ODIs.

The frenetic nature of T20 cricket where a mere 120 balls are allotted per innings has led to an increase in inventiveness by batsmen.

The first T20 World Cup was staged only eight years ago and when India were crowned the inaugural world champions it led to the birth of the Indian Premier League, which opened for business in 2008.

In the seven years since domestic-based franchise competitions have sprung up around the globe.

Nearly every player from the top-eight nations at this month’s World Cup has had wide exposure to the T20 format with many playing in several competitions each year at both international and domestic level.

And that ever-increasing exposure to T20 cricket has seen batsmen develop increasingly audacious ways of scoring.

One of those men to have pushed the envelope is Glenn Maxwell.

Since Australia contested its first ODI 44 years ago, no player to have faced 500-balls has a higher strike rate for Australia than Maxwell.

Indeed, his career mark of 116 has him sixth overall in the history of ODI cricket.

The only other Australian among the 18 players who have compiled career strike rates in excess of 100 is James Faulkner whose 111 has him in ninth place overall.

Faulkner is presently regarded as the best finisher in the game.

Numerous times he has either accelerated Australia’s innings total when the team is setting a target or helped charge down a total in the dying overs of a match.

His most recent heroics came less than a fortnight ago at the WACA Ground in the final of this summer’s triangular one-day series.

With England looking likely to restrict Australia to a score in the vicinity of 230 it was Faulkner, who in the blink of an eye, effectively put the match beyond England’s reach.

His 24-ball unbeaten 50, which he compiled at number eight in the order, saw Australia finish its innings at 8-278.

Interestingly, in the same innings, Maxwell posted his highest ODI score – 95 of 98 balls.

Both Maxwell and Faulkner possess shots that many others can only dream of.

Having them both in any Australian one-day team is a luxury.

At present however, only one of the pair is available – Maxwell.

With a side strain expected to sideline Faulkner until the back-end of the tournament at best a far greater weight will be on Maxwell’s shoulders.

He will likely bat at five and certainly no lower than six.

Should those above him set a solid platform it will be Maxwell who will be required to ice the cake in the back half of the innings.

He started this summer’s protracted list of one-day fixtures in ordinary form with knocks of 29, 0, 2 and 7 in his four matches against South Africa.

Things improved in the triangular series with his career-best 95 coming after innings of 37 against England at Hobart and 20 against India at the MCG.

In the run-in to the World Cup he has played warm-up matches against India at Adelaide (122 off 57 balls) and the UAE at the MCG yesterday, where he batted at eight and went to the crease in the 47th over, scoring seven.

When the tournament proper kicks off this weekend it is imperative for Australia that Maxwell is on-song.

When he is he has the ability to provide enormous headaches for his opponents given the fact that he can access nearly every square metre of the ground in his quest for runs.

Such an approach brings with it an inherent risk.

At times Maxwell will need to rein in his ‘creative’ side and look to score by utilising more orthodox methods.

Attempting to ride his luck from ball one could have dire consequences.

He has the ability to tick the scoreboard over frenetically simply by relying more on the percentages but when it is required he possesses the ability to change gears and approach speeds that few can.

Maxwell has been at pains in recent times to publicly state his dislike of the “Big Show” tag that was bestowed upon him at the outset of his international career.

Whilst he will be hoping that it is further downplayed over the next six weeks there is no escaping the fact that he will be taking part in one-day cricket’s Big Show.

With the right approach he has the ability to stamp his own unique style on this year’s tournament, and with it, immeasurably improve Australia’s chances of securing a fifth World Cup title.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 12 February 2015