Glenn Maxwell is an enigma in IPL. Starting with Mumbai Indians, whose $1mn buy in 2013 earned him the nickname ‘Million-Dollar Baby’, he has gone for big money in every auction as teams bet on his massive potential as a 360-degree hitter. Somehow, he has not lived up to expectation, which were even higher this time. He was the second most expensive buy at the 2020 auctions – Kings XI Punjab splurging Rs 10.75 crore. He landed in the UAE after a blazing century that won Australia the ODI series in England, showing he had put behind mental health issues. In IPL though, he has scored just 58 runs in seven innings and KXIP are at the bottom of the table with just one win. In an interview, he addressed his own and the team’s struggles. Excerpts:
You’ve got all the shots in the book, your game is tailor-made for T20. Still it is a bit of a mystery you haven’t got going so far this IPL?
If you look at our batting order, three of the guys batting ahead of me are among the top-10 run scorers in the tournament. It doesn’t leave a whole lot of runs for the guys batting below. I have been not out three times. Probably it shows how little amount of balls I am getting at the end of the innings. I am still trying to do the best I can. I am still batting well. A month ago, I probably played one of the best innings (108) of my career in England. Not much has changed since, just probably the time at the crease and that opportunity to sort of get myself in. Lot of the time I am trying to get the player who has been batting longer on strike.
Yeah, I haven’t got the whole lot of opportunities so far and people will look at the amount of runs I have scored. With the limited opportunities I have got, I still feel I am hitting the ball really well.
There have always been high expectations on you? Does that affect you?
I don’t pay attention to that. I have my game plans and things I want to achieve in the game. I focus on what the team needs to do in certain situations. Expectations are what the media and outside people have on you and that shouldn’t affect the way you play. It is something I have grown to be able to deal with. If I stay focused on what I have to do in the middle then expectations doesn’t come into play whatsoever.
You have been with Kings XI a long time, you had an earlier stint too, and they are yet to win IPL. What is the missing link, has it been addressed?
A little bit of luck will help. If you look at the first game, we scored more runs than Delhi, the umpire wrongly called a short run (KXIP lost in the Super Over). We could have started with two wins in a row, and then we bowled one bad over against RR which ended up getting them back into the game. Unfortunately, little moments like that haven’t been taken. We’ve spoken at length about taking those key moments. In T20, you make one mistake and it can sort of get compounded. We feel we’ve played good cricket this year to win most of our games, we just haven’t been on the right side of luck in this tournament. In T20, luck can play a big part, and teams riding their luck and going well with it can get on a bit of a run.
The last defeat (by 2 runs against KKR), how difficult is it for the team to recover from such a loss?
It is no different from any one of the other losses we had. We’ve been in winning positions in pretty much all our games; this is another example of not taking that opportunity to finish the game. It is so disappointing to fall just a bit short again. (Had) I hit that ball another inch longer and we go into the Super Over, we get a chance to win. It has just been the way the tournament has gone for us. That inch seems to be going against us. In T20, it can turnaround so quickly. The guys are going to stay level, focused on what we need to do. We are still playing very good entertaining cricket; we just need a little luck.
What is the challenge living in the bio-bubble, how are you coping with it?
I’ve really enjoyed it. You are close to your teammates. Having breakfast, lunch and dinner with them every day, you get to know each other well. Always having conversations around the game, so you are learning at a rapid rate; the guys coming through they are asking questions off the seniors and trying to grow as cricketers. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to be a bit more of a leader this year and be able to help those young guys at training and challenge them at different times, try to accelerate their development. We saw Ravi Bishnoi and Arshdeep Singh perform really well…it is really exciting for the franchise.
You’ve played with many captains; how has KL Rahul handled the job?
He has been really good. He has such a calm head on the shoulder. We have sort of worked together at different times. When he was keeping, I was at mid-off to try and help the bowlers. He would give me messages to pass on to them; I try to channel my inner KL and try to deliver the messages like he would. Unfortunately, we haven’t quite turned them into results, but he has led from the front, performed unbelievably well with the bat.
How has it been working with Anil Kumble as coach?
I absolutely like working with Anil. We’ve known each other for about 10 years. We do a charity thing together, before I was a professional cricketer. I got picked up by Mumbai and I worked with him closely. We have open and honest chats about the game. He has been brilliant for the group. He is so calm, so level. We are able to deal with the losses and move on and stay positive as a group. Sometimes when you are losing, it can break down a lot of teams, but I feel our group has stayed tight. We can still have a big impact on this tournament.
What are Kings XI’s chances in the second phase?
Things can turn around pretty quickly. Once we start taking those winning moments and start to turn them into our favour. It is easy for the teams to get on a run in T20 cricket. We have got all the firepower, it is ready to explode. Our bowling group is just starting to click as well. I expect to see a much-improved performance in the second half. Hopefully, we can take hold of those key moments and win games.