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How Royal Challengers Bangalore have unearthed ‘The Big Show’ in Glenn Maxwell

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Glenn Maxwell scored his first IPL half-century in five years

IPLT20

How Royal Challengers Bangalore have unearthed ‘The Big Show’ in Glenn Maxwell

Back in IPL 2020, the then Kings XI Punjab were mightly confident of their chances of holding that coveted Indian Premier League trophy after getting Glenn Maxwell on board. However, ‘The Big Show’ that they expected to star in their blockbuster hit turned out to be a nail in their season's coffin.

Since the 2014 edition, where glitz and gold were all over the all-rounder, Glenn Maxwell, who was just in his third IPL season in that edition, has endured a mega-drought with regards to his form; a lost appetite of sorts. The Big Show never arrived. In fact, even after blockbuster budgets, the box office always shooed and the audience booed. 

For a guy who became one of the early millionaires in the IPL, that too from a franchise like Mumbai Indians, that thoroughly scouted people, what has caused this rather distress? While the question seemingly looked familiar, the answer was always about game-time, about him facing more deliveries at the crease, something that was earmarked by the Australian team and templatized by Melbourne Stars. 

The misconception that has always surrounded Maxwell has always hindered his progress in some way or the other. He isn’t a finisher, he isn’t a smacker, he is as a proper batsman as there is in world cricket and like others, he needs time at the crease, a fundamental thing that was taken away from him at Punjab. Last season, across 13 matches, Maxwell got to face 106 deliveries, his least in an IPL season since 2014.

What went wrong with Punjab?

11 innings is all it took for the entire world to brand Glenn Maxwell as a waste of money, as a cheerleader amidst the other derogatory terms that have been used. For everything that has surrounded him, nothing has changed dramatically, he's continued to plunder the ball as he has always with the national team. Since the start of 2019, Glenn Maxwell has faced 261 balls for the Australian team, scoring 435 runs, at an average of 33.5 and a strike rate of 166.7.

But despite that, there is a point to ponder, when Maxwell has indeed batted below No.4, at 5 and 6, his form has taken a dip, with the dot-ball percentage increasing. Even at No.4, a position that he has desired in International cricket, Maxwell has faced 32.9% dot balls, which signifies that he isn’t a crash-bang-wallop cricketer, as branded by several experts. 

For Punjab, Maxwell walked mostly, at No.5, where he has faced 91 balls, across nine innings, which roughly accounts for ten deliveries every innings. A relatively slow-starter like Maxwell usually suffers in such a situation, which has been the tale of his Punjab days. But when promoted, at No.3, where he has faced 9 deliveries, the all-rounder scored 13 runs, which in reality should have indicated the franchise his strong point. 

What’s the ideal solution?

Get him to face more deliveries, seriously, that’s what has affected his form at Punjab and has changed his fortune at Bangalore - more deliveries. 

Since 2019 in the Big Bash League, plying his trade for Melbourne Stars - where he also captains the side - Maxwell has primarily batted at No.4, in 22 innings. In the 22 innings, the right-hander has put on 496 runs from 356 deliveries, averaging 27.6 while striking it at nearly 140, with a dot-ball percentage of 32.9%. The all-rounder isn’t a prolific starter nor a prolific death-over batsman from the word go, like AB de Villiers.

Since 2019, yet again, an interesting point of view from the Big Bash League is that, Maxwell is second on the list of batsmen to have topped the batting charts in the tournament, just behind Moises Henriques. During the two-year phase, Maxwell has scored 496 runs, four shy of 500, averaging 27.56 and striking it at 139.33 with four half-centuries, showing that he is an able run-accumulator, who can really time the ball, once set. 

What RCB have done perfectly

In the same time span, when we shift the focus to International cricket, only Eoin Morgan, who has had a terrific T20I record, has better numbers than Maxwell. Not even Shreyas Iyer or Jonny Bairstow in the international scene. Maxwell averages 34.6, strikes it at 164.76, with three half-centuries and a century, which means  No.4 is the best way to go, something that RCB has done faithfully.

What’s changed this season? For starters, his form, his role and the aura that has surrounded him. Royal Challengers Bangalore have unearthed the best possible version of Maxwell, even though it is just two games into the season. Maxwell has finally become the batsman he is, largely overshadowed by his ability as an all-rounder in the past editions. 

Identifying his perfect role, RCB have played Maxwell at No.4 this season, where he's scored 98 runs in two innings, at an average of 49 and a strike rate of 142. Further to add to that, a set Maxwell in the death overs this year, has scored 43 runs off 26 deliveries, striking it at 165. 

The problem which has hindered him from the 2014 season was his batting position. Throwback to the 2014 season, where Maxwell turned out for Kings XI Punjab, the right-hander had scored 552 runs, averaging nearly 35 and a strike rate of 187.8, tilting all debates in his favour. But why and how did that happen?

15 of his 16 innings came at No.3 and No.4, where he scored all of his 552 runs. At No.3 his strike rate takes off at 214.2 and it drops to 159.4 as he walks out to bat at No.4. With RCB having a set plan for him, as witnessed from the first two games, it is clear as daylight that RCB have finally unearthed ‘The Big Show’ in Glenn Maxwell.

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