Big Show's ‘freak show’: The story of Maxwell's Delhi magic
One of the nicest men in cricket let his bat do the talking against the Netherlands, with Maxwell’s 40-ball century setting a new record for the fastest ever at an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
But the man known as Big Show couldn’t be further from showy off the park, with his description of the knock barely coming close to matching what the Delhi crowd had just witnessed out in the middle.
“It feels pretty good,” Maxwell said, later adding: “It’s nice to get a bit of rhythm.”
If such humility wasn’t so consistent with Maxwell’s character it would almost barely be believable, but the 32-year-old left the real superlatives to his captain, who was only too happy to heap praise on the explosive right-hander.
“That was just a freak show,” a beaming Pat Cummins said of Maxwell’s century. “You’ve got no options as a bowler when someone’s running as hot as that.
“He was just fantastic, it’s as clean hitting as you’ll ever see.”
Maxwell and Cummins put on 103 from 44 balls for the seventh wicket, with Cummins facing just eight deliveries in that partnership – something he was all-too-happy to joke about after the game.
“That was crazy. A hundred-run partnership, I thought we both contributed equally!”
The brilliance of Maxwell’s innings came after a relatively poor run of form in ODI cricket for the 35-year-old.
His six previous innings in the calendar year had yielded just 62 runs, and a 31* against Sri Lanka was his only real contribution with the bat in Australia’s World Cup campaign.
The man himself said, in typically humble fashion, that he didn’t expect to produce such a performance on the day, particularly as he was carrying a bit of an illness.
But, with David Warner (104), Steve Smith (71) and Marnus Labuschagne (62) having set the platform, Maxwell said that the clarity of the match situation, combined with his health issues, helped him stay focussed in the middle.
“I’ve been pretty crook all day, so I wasn’t really expecting much today. I think with that it probably just freed my head a little bit to be able to just go out there and play.
“The situation I suppose when Davey (Warner) and Greeny (Cameron Green) both got out, meant I had to bat a little bit differently and that actually probably tempered me down a little bit and actually make me play the situation a bit. Patty was brilliant out there as well for me.”
It’s hard to imagine that a record-breaking 44-ball 106 could have involved “tempering down a little bit”, but the brilliance of Maxwell’s innings was in how he built it.
The first five of his 17 boundaries were all classical cricket shots as he opted against swinging himself off his feet right from the off. And Maxwell revealed that was a conscious decision.
“If you look at the last few games I haven’t been doing that, so it was just being able to give myself a bit of time out in the middle and to give myself that confidence and platform to really go from there,” he said.
“With the situation of the game I was just trying to give ourselves a good platform at the back end and making sure I was there for the most of it.
“If you can get a few out of the middle you can certainly cash in on this ground – the boundaries are a little bit smaller, it seems under the lights it can run away quite quickly. So it’s nice to get a bit of rhythm finally in this tournament.”
It was only with a brilliant reverse sweep that went one bounce to the rope to take his score on to 40 that Maxi really unleashed. His next four boundaries were all maximums, with the reverse sweeping playing a big part in his innings as the Dutch struggled to find a way to contain him.
And speaking after his ton, Maxwell explained how he made the reverse sweep work to such great effect.
“I think [it hinges on] getting a read on the bowler, the types of change-ups they’re using. Even if they’re banging it into the wicket I feel like I’ve got enough time to adapt and change the position of where I want to hit it.
“If they do bowl quick I know I’ve just got to get my hands through a little bit faster. I suppose it’s just setting up for the field and trying to play it as well as I can.
“Every now and then I get lucky enough it goes for six, but I’m generally just trying to get it over the in-field.”
Maxwell’s record-breaking knock breathed confidence right through the Australian line-up, and the bowlers reveled off that positive energy as they rattled the Dutch out for just 90.
And ‘Big Show’ says he hopes that this display can spark him into having a big impact on the remainder of the tournament.
“It’s a huge confidence-booster knowing that I’ve got that in the locker going forward. There does have a few doubts that creep in when you consistently are not making runs, so for today to cap them all together is quite a nice feeling, and hopefully I can ride on this from now going forward.”
One added boost for Maxwell was that he performed his heroics in front of his wife Vini Raman and young son Logan, who was born just last month.
And the Aussie says it made the day even more special having them there to witness his achievement.
“Very nice to have them here. It’s been a long time obviously with the newborn, not being around. So having them over here it’s great support, and there’s a few sleepless nights coming up I think.”
Opposition bowlers will be the ones having sleepless nights after this, with New Zealand up next for Big Show and company in Dharamsala on Saturday.