While we all sat on the edge of our seats and marveled at the sheer brilliance of Glenn Maxwell’s Cricket World Cup masterclass against Afghanistan, things were not as they seemed out in the middle.
Maxwell brought Australia back from the abyss at 7-91 chasing 292, smashing what is being described as the greatest white-ball innings of all time, 201* from 128 deliveries, to steer the Aussies home for what ended up being a reasonably comfortable three-wicket win, with 19 balls to spare.
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And in the cauldron of World Cup pressure with a semi-final spot on the line, the destructive right-hander did it all while battling debilitating leg cramps that prohibited him from using any foot work at the crease.
In fact, the 35-year-old could hardly make it to the other end for easy singles, such was the pain through which he was playing.
Aussie skipper Pat Cummins had the best seat in the house at the other end, and played his role beautifully to ensure Maxwell could win the game off his own bat.
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Cummins was a rock in defence, scoring 12* from 68 balls as the carnage at the other end stunned the cricket world.
But if you had have been privy to the pair’s mid-pitch conversations, you would never have known the pressure under which they were producing such a remarkable performance.
Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins were cracking gags in the middle. Credit: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC via Getty Images
Speaking on the BBC’s No Balls: The Cricket Podcast, Maxwell has revealed he and Cummins were actually cracking gags during the absurd run chase.
“When I was shuffling between wickets and looking up at the change rooms, I just see them all laughing at the same time as well,” he said.
“It sort of took the sting out of it as well. I didn’t feel like there was added pressure or anything like that, so I wasn’t sort of badly (thinking), ‘We could almost pull off a miraculous win’. It was just like, ‘This would be so funny if we got this done’.
“And I’m waddling between overs and every single was funny. That was just it. It took the sting out of any sort of pressure of the game.”
As we gasped from our couches at Maxwell’s pain when he went down, the man himself was actually laughing,
Glenn Maxwell is attended to by a member of team support staff before leading Australia to victory. Credit: AP
“There was a wide at one stage and I sort of went down, laughed,” he went on.
“I went down (and said), ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get these in extras’. They’re giving us runs, no worries.
“And then I think the scoreboard flashed up that they were four overs behind, and Pat Cummins goes, ‘Oh they’re four overs down. Don’t worry, we’ll get them in the last four overs when they’ve got an extra fielder inside the ring’.
“We took the mickey so much out of each other out there. Not ‘took the mickey’, but we had a smile on our face the whole time and we just tried to keep it as chilled out and as laid back as we possibly could.
“We didn’t really talk about winning until we got down to maybe the last 10 overs.”
Maxwell’s coach Andrew McDonald, left amazed like the rest of cricket by the match-winning double hundred, described the allrounder as stretching the possibilities in the batting art just as Ricky Ponting and AB De Villiers did before him.’
Glenn Maxwell’s innings is being described as the greatest white-ball innings ever. Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Suggesting it might take a long time for the true magnitude of Maxwell’s unbeaten knock in Mumbai to be properly appreciated, McDonald also couldn’t help smiling as he related how, back home in Australia, he’d heard that players were now all imitating the 35-year-old’s outrageous inventions.
“I had some text messages from some friends that went to cricket training that night (of Maxwell’s innings) and the night after, back home and what were they playing? Reverse sweep, scoops…
“It’s probably a little bit of a nightmare with developing players for the coaches, but you’ve got to encourage it.”
McDonald says Maxwell is the latest batter to show the sport has no limits.
“I think the players take the game forward every day and the game is better today than it was yesterday and Glenn Maxwell will no doubt inspire a new generation with some outrageous shots — and they’ll take it even further than he has.
“And that’s the beauty about this game, the limits are endless. He’s stretched the boundaries, as did AB de Villiers, as did Ricky Ponting in their time as well. So, it’s exciting to see where the game may head.
“He sees the game differently. Some of the options that he takes, the work that he’s put in, even some of the things he does in the field, he does differently and it never ceases to amaze.”
– With AAP
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