I have played with and against some of the most ferocious strikers of the cricket ball, but in this IPL, Glenn Maxwell has been a class apart. He always had the reputation of being a big hitter and we have seen glimpses of his ability to decimate bowling attacks, but the consistency with which he has done so over the last three weeks has been mind-boggling.
Maxwell has single-handedly demoralised the opposition, and every time he has made a half-century, he has taken the match away from his rivals. It’s not just the scores of 95, 89, 95 and 90 that are impressive. The brutality with which he has made them is astonishing.
I remember the Australian philosophy at their academy under Rod Marsh when the onus was on positivity. Strategies were based around looking for a six first, otherwise a four, then a three, two or one.
Only when none of these possibilities existed was the dot ball an option. It is this philosophy that Maxwell has embraced whole-heartedly, with deadly results.
Maxwell can be both orthodox and frustratingly unconventional, and he forces captains to set fields in a manner that gaps open up elsewhere that he can capitalise on. I can’t think of too many bowlers, apart from perhaps Sunil Narine, who have managed to keep him quiet. His has become the most coveted scalp in the IPL.
So what do you do? Yorkers are not proving effective, nor are the occasional sharp bouncers at the start of his innings. The way to go then will be to liberally employ changes in pace. Once you take the pace off the ball and ask the batsman to generate his own pace, it becomes an entirely different ballgame.
If there is pace on the ball, the swing of the bat alone can take the ball a long way, but when the bowlers start to roll their fingers across the seam or bowl from the back of a hand, it provides an entirely different challenge.
For a slower ball to be effective, the pitch has to be a little dry because the ball must grip the surface and not come on to the bat.
For those bowlers who rely heavily on the slower delivery, it is important to first understand the conditions before deciding which tack to follow.
So why not attack him with quality spin – and most sides do have very good spinners? Instead of being predictable with line and length, why not ask him different questions right at the start of his innings? Well worth exploring, I would say.
The writer is a former India pacer