Such has been Glenn Maxwell’s impact that you dare not take your eyes off when the Kings XI batsman is in the middle.
The Aussie has taken the Indian Premier League by storm. The opposing captains and bowlers are rattled, for how do you set the field and where do you bowl to someone who can play right handed and left-handed at the same time?
The batting coach from his Melbourne Club, Richard Clifton, who played a role in shaping his skills, is not surprised by Maxwell’s impact with his reverse hits. “He bats better left-handed, than a lot of left-handed batsmen. Even at under-14, he would bat with the opposite hand,” said Clifton, who took Maxwell under his wings when he was 14 at the Ringwood Cricket Club and Ftizroy-Doncaster CC, located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
There are some who are good with reverse hands, Kevin Pietersen being one. Even Sachin Tendulkar would now and then clear the fence while taking guard left-handed in practice sessions, but that was for fun. None has batted with both hands such effortlessly and consistently as Maxwell.
“He is perfectly balanced (while switching the stance from right to left) and maintains a still head position, doesn’t fall over. That’s why he is so good,” observed Clifton. “He’s always been strong and supple, even as a young player he would hit a long way. He makes his mind up quickly, targets the areas he wants to hit and gets into position quickly, which is crucial to improvise.”
Clifton denied there was a story of a left-hander who turned right-hander. It was an ability gradually built. “He came under my wings at the age of 14, his first hundred was in the Dowling Cup , a premier tournament for under-16s in the Victoria State, and he didn’t hit a single reverse in that innings. He just hit the ball clean. Though, in the nets, now and then, he would switch to left-hand batting.
“He was just a natural, very easy to coach. Even at the young age, he would hit the ball a fair distance,” recollected Clifton.
Now, no one in the IPL has his range of strokes, but the coach says early in his career, Maxwell was a predominantly leg-side player.
The information will be no solace for the bowlers who are bearing the brunt of his blade. So how does one target Mad Max? “Probably, bowl wide, but then how much wide before it is called a wide?”