The Big Show is Past It

I have never been convinced that Glenn Maxwell deserved his nickname ‘The Big Show’. To be fair, I don’t think he cares for it himself. I certainly believed it was a huge mistake to elevate him to the Test team, and nothing I’ve seen in his seven Tests to date leads me to change that view. If he is retained at No. 6 for the Ashes, he will be a major liability for the Australian team.

But in the shorter format, Maxwell always seemed to have more going for him. He seemed able to get away with a little more than in the red ball game.

Not anymore.

For me, Maxwell forfeited any claim to a place in the Australian ODI team on 24 September during the third ODI against India. Coming to the wicket with 12 overs to go, Maxwell could barely lay bat on ball, crawling to 5 runs off 13 balls.

Enter the leggie, Yuzvendra Chahal. Picture the scene. Steve Smith had gotten out the PREVIOUS DELIVERY.

The Indians knew Maxwell would do it. Fans watching the game knew he would do it.

So he did it.

He charged down the wicket almost before the bowl was bowled. Chahal threw it wide. Maxwell missed it. MS Dhoni whipped off the bails. Stumped. Gone.

How did we know this would happen?

BECAUSE MAXWELL DID EXACTLY THE SAME THING IN THE PREVIOUS GAME! I don’t blame the Indians for grinning their heads off. Maxwell made it so easy for them.

After Maxwell fell, Travis Head panicked and Peter Handscomb didn’t have enough time to rescue the situation. Australia failed to make enough runs in the last ten overs and lost the game. Maxwell’s failure was the single greatest reason for the loss.

Maxwell has been around for a long time. He’s been playing first-class cricket for six years. He has played 80 ODIs for Australia. And yet he was utterly unable to respond appropriately to the situation. The team has every reason to expect a player of Maxwell’s experience NOT to throw his wicket away unnecessarily. But he does so time after time, trying for the Big Shot.

Opposition bowlers have worked Maxwell out. Although his batting average in 80 ODIs is 32.30, in his most recent 21 innings since January 2016, Maxwell has made only 500 runs at an average of 26.32. 

The truth is Maxwell’s skill set is sorely limited. His ability to slap a ball over deep mid-wicket is amazing, but an international cricketer needs more in his or her armoury than the ability to slog across the line of the ball, because – believe it or not – the slog sweep is not the best shot for each delivery. And don’t get me started on Maxwell’s reverse sweep. Most of the time it doesn’t work anyway, and he just looks foolish. Most of the time, a batsman just needs to play proper cricket shots, and not try to do anything too fancy. But if that player lacks the technique to play those proper cricket shots, he should not be out there.

Maxwell will be 29 years old in two weeks’ time. If he has not learned how to play by now, he is not going to. His lack of proper technique is alarming and the selectors should be weary of waiting for him to acquire it. Canny bowlers now know that if they vary their pace he can’t score, and if they throw it wide, there’s a good chance Maxwell will get himself out in short order.

Maxwell should limit himself to the 20-over format. He’ll do fine there.

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