Maxwell, More Than Just Big Hitting
The Australian's impact goes beyond his strike rate, with the ability to offer his teammates freedom to do just about anything
Glenn Maxwell could not possibly get any better. Picked up for Rs 6 crore, he’s given the Kings XI Punjab its greatest return on investment. In ten matches, he has scored 517 runs, averaging 51.7 at an astonishing strike rate of 198.08. But, as remarkable as Maxwell’s batting has been, there’s one facet of his game that is more commendable. More remarkable than his stroke-play, more extraordinary than his power and definitely worthy of far greater praise than the reverse sweeps and the switch hits. And that has been his selfless attitude towards batting. Four phenomenal innings, and four opportunities to make history. Maxwell could have become the first man to score four centuries in a single season. But, every time he failed to do so, he had his eyes on Punjab’s score, not his own. With the exception of the game against Chennai, when he was castled by a yorker, Maxwell fell trying to clear the boundary. Against Rajasthan, when Punjab were chasing 192, Maxwell fell on 89 in the 14th over with them sill requiring 66 runs. He mishit a fuller delivery from Kane Richardson, still going after the bowling. In the next match, with Punjab batting first against Hyderabad, having hit Amit Mishra for a six, he attempted to clear long-off, only for the ball to sail into the waiting hands of Darren Sammy. Maxwell fell five short of a century, with two overs remaining in the innings.
And then, most recently, in Punjab’s second match against Chennai, Maxwell holed out to deep midwicket when he was on 90 with 16 balls to go.
It would seem he simply does not care what score he is on. If there is a ball to be hit, he tries to hit it.
While Maxwell has scored 75.04% of his runs in boundaries, his batting isn’t all about the big hitting either. He’s a busy player, who gives as much importance to running between the wickets. In this, he stands in stark contrast to Chris Gayle, the player who took IPL by storm.
While Gayle had an impressive strike rate (156.29) in the 2013 edition, there were an incredibly large number of dot balls played by him. Let’s look at the figures. Of the 261 balls faced by Maxwell, only 73 have been dots—or 27.96%. Gayle, on the other hand, faced 453 balls in IPL 6, of which 190 of them were dots—or 41.94%. The difference means that if both Gayle and Maxwell were to play 20 overs each, Gayle consumes 16.77 dot balls more than Maxwell, which is close to three overs, substantial in a 20-over innings. A comparison of the two players’ Impact Index also suggest other differences between them (season seven vs season six). Maxwell’s Batting Impact (3.33) has been 37% higher than Gayle’s (2.43) in IPL 6. Two, his Strike Rate Impact (0.69) has been three times that of Gayle’s (0.23). Three, while Gayle had a 44% failure rate in IPL 6, Maxwell’s failure rate so far has been 20%. Before the ICC World T20, Maxwell had a career failure rate of 57%. His rate of scoring has also served to relieve pressure from the rest of the order. Batsmen who’ve come in after his departure have time to play themselves in and freedom to do just about anything. Their strike rates have often been as good, and on a couple of occasions, even better than Maxwell’s. David Miller’s 19-ball, unbeaten 51 against Rajasthan Royals and George Bailey’s unbeaten 13-ball 40 against Chennai, have been just a few examples of the kind of freedom Maxwell’s knocks have afforded the rest of the order. And it could well be said that his 95 against Chennai in Punjab’s opener gave his team the self-belief to chase an identical 205 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday (May 14), with Wriddhiman Saha and Manan Vohra leading the pyrotechnics before he even walked on to the field.
Wisden India (inputs from Impact Index)