Glenn Maxwell: Against The Syndrome Of The Impostor > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Glenn Maxwell: Battling the impostor syndrome
"Yeah I am pretty harsh on myself. I certainly expect high standards of what I can do on the field. I know what I'm capable of and sometimes when I can't quite execute what I'm trying to do and what I know I can do it can be frustrating and I know it's frustrating for people watching but it's a lot more frustrating for me." It's not so much a revelation as it is an admission to Cricbuzz from Glenn Maxwell. That his constant flirtations between looking like an unhinged genius who can pull off the most audacious stunts and an audacious stuntman pretending to be an unhinged genius bother him more than even those witnessing both avatars. That the hit or miss nature of his overall career is as "frustrating" to him as it is to everyone else, if not more.
Interestingly this is Maxwell's response to a question about how at times watching from the outside it can seem like the 31-year-old power-hitter expects more of himself than even the team or everyone watching him does. For, there are times he can make you wonder whether the game he's playing in his head is actually what both those with vested interests in him and the impassioned observer expect from the batting dynamo or deem him capable of.
That's the thing though about Glenn Maxwell., where every aspect of his cricket somehow seems to have a potential for debate. And like when it comes to watching him bat, how you view his opinions depend squarely on which side of that debate you sit on. Is he a victim of a system which has denied him the opportunities he deserves or is he a culprit of his own design who hasn't made the most of the incessant opportunities that have come his way, some of which he might or might not have deserved. And you'd imagine he'll divide opinions perhaps till the time he continues playing.
His performances in the World Cup earlier this year in England perhaps sum up exactly why the perpetual deliberation over Maxwell's value and worth even exists in the first place. He'd gone into the tournament on the back of a number of match-winning knocks against Pakistan in the UAE. But an average of 22.12 across 10 innings, which included a number of customary Maxwell-ian knocks - specks of breath-taking ingenuity blended with more unnecessary than poor shot-selection leading to tame dismissals. He was exhilarating at times, especially against India and Sri Lanka, but only briefly though. On most other occasions, even when there were opportunities for him to really showcase just how good he is, Maxwell ended up letting himself and his team down.
There was but one common theme to his outings to the crease though, and it's actually been the case around the world whenever Maxwell walks out to bat - the penchant for opposition fast bowlers to target him with short-pitched bowling from very early on. Though there were a couple of times he was dismissed off short-pitched deliveries, he fell prey to an actual bouncer only once, against the West Indies when he top-edged the second ball he faced, from Sheldon Cottrell, while attempting an uncalled for hoick with his team in disarray. But Maxwell reveals he only started giving the theory about his struggles against the short ball any weightage once the coaches "started paying attention it" during the World Cup.
"Towards the backend (of the World Cup) I started to pay attention because the coaches started to pay attention to it. They started to bring it up in conversation with me and I was like I prefer them to bowl it there than at my stumps. Internally I was fine, but when it started being brought up by other people, that's when it probably took a hold of me. Since I've been back home, it hasn't been a problem. I've been looking forward to facing it. As I said, I rather prefer them bowling it there than at my stumps," he tells Cricbuzz.
That a number of experts and opponents think he does have a weakness against the short ball but Maxwell doesn't agree, internally as well as externally, is another example of why there's always a split verdict on just how good he is at the highest level. So whether you think he's susceptible to the short ball or not will again depend on how you view Maxwell the batsman and his take on his own batting. For now, it's unlikely that the fast bowlers around the world will stop targeting his head as soon as he walks out to bat anytime soon.
Maxwell does admit that "things didn't quite go the way" he'd have liked during the World Cup. But you can't disagree with him when he says "cricket can be a pretty fickle game at times".
"You get run-out, you get the toe-end of the bat to a pull-shot that goes straight back to the bowler and he takes a one-handed catch (New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham at Lord's). And all of a sudden things can spiral quickly even when you're in form. Sometimes those balls can fall in no man's land and you're away. I felt like every time I made a mistake I was out. That's how things go at times. Unfortunately they all happened during the World Cup and it gets heightened a bit more. But I felt like I was hitting the ball as well as I ever have but luck probably wasn't quite on my side during that tournament," he says.
What you cannot disagree with either is just how successful he's been for Australia in T20I cricket, especially over the last three years. To the extent that it's one chapter in his chequered career that doesn't warrant a debate. Maxwell after all has the best strike-rate - that of 158.20 - among the 26 batsmen who've scored over 1500 runs across all countries in this format. It's in fact only second-best to Colin Munro's 161 among the top 80 all-time run-getters in the format. And only Rohit Sharma has scored more centuries than the three the Victorian has in this format. Maxwell's also been by far the most prolific and successful batsman for Australia in T20Is since 2016, averaging 45.08 with an incredible strike-rate of 157.6. It's a phase where he's scored his 3 centuries, in the space of 23 innings to be precise, including the unbeaten 113 in 55 balls he scored at Bangalore in his last outing back in February. Whereas he still continues to try and find his feet in ODIs and seems to have slipped off the radar completely from Tests, Maxwell will in all likelihood be among the automatic picks for Australia for at least the next two years as they prepare for the back-to-back T20 WCs, at home next October and in India a year later.
"Consistency of selection probably helps, and the role I play in T20 cricket has been pretty consistent. Once you get that role, and there's no doubt that that spot is always there for you, it's easier to be consistent. I think in the other formats, it's been thrown around a little bit. It's nice to know like I do in T20I cricket, where you're going to bat and when you're going to bat and know the situation you're going to find yourself in. That makes it comfortable and the results show that. When the team's struggling and the opposition's on top that's when I play at my best and it doesn't really worry me when I come in If you look at it, couple of my best innings have come at 2/5 and 2/10," he explains.
And unlike in the ODI batting-order where he gets floated around a lot - touted to be a fixture at No.7 during the last home summer and then used up and down the middle-order during the World Cup for instance - Maxwell has established himself at No 4 and 5 in T20Is.
"Batting at 3 and 4 and getting a relaxed role of this is what we'd like to see from you is really nice. Getting a clear understanding of what you need to do and what the team wants from you. Then you're just expected to go execute it. And it's something I've enjoyed. I suppose over the last 18 months, it's a format I've really enjoyed playing for Australia."
But again has Maxwell, like he says, been more consistent in T20Is because the selectors and team management have been consistent with him or is it the other way around? And are his inconsistent forays in the other formats a result of the selectors and team management being inconsistent with him or a cause for them being so?
Regardless of which end of the divide you sit on with Maxwell, what you can't deny is the confidence he has in his own ability and capability. At times in sport, that's often all you need. He'd once told a reporter, well this one actually, when asked before the 2015 World Cup about whether he ever felt the urge to compete with the equally explosive middle to late order he then inhabited, "Are you saying there's someone who can bat like me? Please let me know if you find him." So when he says that all the outside noise about his career doesn't bother or "faze him", you have to believe it.
"I've never been too worried about what the public think of me. It's never bothered me too much. All I try and do with cricket is have fun, relax and go out there and try and win matches for my team. What other people think of me has never fazed me."
And even while the debate over him rages on, Maxwell sounds rather chuffed with how his career has gone to date.
"I'm very happy with my career so far. Got a hundred in each format. Got a Test cap that's something I'd always wanted. I'm pretty happy with my career so far. There's still a fair bit I'll like to achieve and yeah I'm pretty happy. I don't look too far ahead. With the amount of cricket we play these days and the amount of time we spend on the road, if you start thinking too far ahead, you can get some pretty bad anxiety and you forget about what's coming up."
Perhaps somewhere in that approach to his life lies the secret to how best judge Glenn Maxwell. There will be times when he'll amaze and thrill more than any other batsman of his generation. But there'll also be times when he'll leave everyone watching him from the stands and the dressing-room both anxious and frustrated. They just need to remember, like he says, that in those times it's a lot more frustrating for him.
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