Australia batsman Glenn Maxwell admitted that he was eager to get a chance to bat at the top of the order in T20 cricket, after smashing an unbeaten 145 against Sri Lanka in the first of two matches between the nations in the game’s shortest format.
Maxwell opined that batting at the top of the order in the shortest format made it easier to build an innings and he had been keen to get a crack at the role for some time.
The decision came as a bit of a surprise given the presence of Usman Khawaja in the side but captain David Warner indicated Australia were keen to maintain left-hand right-hand combination.
The Victorian however, indicated he had floated the idea himself, saying: “I actually had a chat to [coach] Greg Blewett a couple of days ago after Finch hurt his finger.
“I said: ‘Geez, I’d love to have a crack at the top of the order.’ Sure enough, a couple of days, Warner gave me a tap on the shoulder and told me I was going to be up the top with him. So I was excited about it and looking forward to the opportunity.”
Maxwell spoke more of his desire to get up top: “I really enjoy batting at the top of the order in T20 cricket.
“I find it’s easier to get into the innings. When you’re in the middle order you have to be proactive the whole time. It seems like if you get out playing a big shot at that stage of the game, it all falls on your shoulders.
“At the top of the order you’ve got a little bit more freedom to get yourself into the game and play pretty normal cricket shots without taking risks.
“You only have to beat two guys on the fence. The way Sri Lanka set fields at the start made it pretty obvious where they’re going to bowl. It made my job a lot easier in the first six.”
The allrounder made the most of his past T20 experience, especially from the IPL where he failed to turn 80’s and 90’s into big scores.
He continued: “When I looked up and there was eight overs to go and I was 80 or 90, I got the sense it would be a big score. I didn’t really realise how long there was left.
“I think I’ve made that mistake a few times playing in the IPL. I kept swinging until I was out. I probably played periods a bit smarter tonight. I knew if I mistimed it, it’d go in the gap.”
The right-hander has suffered an indifferent year in 2016, being dropped from the ODI squad after a poor run of form in the Caribbean and has since struggled to make an impact for Australia A.
The shortest form of the game seems to have flipped a switch with the aggressive batsman though.
Of his year, Maxwell said: “West Indies was pretty disappointing.
“I felt like I was a bit out of luck there. I just couldn’t get a break through that. To not be on the Sri Lanka Test tour probably hurt more than anything.
“I understood why they dropped me. I had no issues with that. And my scores were quite pitiful, by my standards, for the Australia A team. I think I scored more in this innings than in all my A team innings put together.”
After the success of Australia’s limited overs side in Sri Lanka and the Test teams whitewash defeat some are calling for limited overs batsmen to be drafted into the Test squad in Asia but Maxwell has pointed out some flaws in that thinking.
Maxwell offered: “To score runs in one-day cricket in the subcontinent is totally different to playing red-ball cricket, when you’ve got guys around the bat, five guys on the fence, and they’re able to just plug away all day.
“It doesn’t matter how many reverse sweeps for four you hit, they’re still going to be around the bat. And when you try to defend, one will blow up off the wicket, take your gloves, and you’re out. I know how difficult it is.
“People say he’s made runs in the subcontinent in the white-ball form so surely he can make runs in the red-ball form. But it’s just not the same.
“I’d like to think, on the back of my four-day form in Australia, I don’t think it should matter where my Tests are played.
“I wouldn’t want to be pigeonholed as a subcontinent specialist, because I know how difficult it is here. All my red-ball runs have been made in either England or Australia. On the back of that I’d like to be picked in Australia.”