The allrounder has a calmness about his game: “I’m not overthinking stuff…it’s all automatic”
“I was extremely fortunate to have two of the greats of the game in the same team and in the same batting line-up who were open to share their experiences and talk to me about their game,” Maxwell said. “It makes you feel 10 feet tall when you’ve got their backing and they’re watching you, they’re asking you questions and it just makes you feel confident, it makes you feel happy.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore assistant coach Adam Griffith told ESPNcricinfo that those conversations with Kohli and de Villiers were on another level.
“When you see the best in the world when they’re together, it’s amazing the conversations they have and they’re on a different level,” Griffith said. “The type of conversation is different to a normal player. They move past the basics of the game to those extra little one or two-percent things that can mean the difference between having a good innings or not. The way they talk about the game, it’s great to sit and watch them.”
Now Maxwell’s challenge is to try and translate that form into World Cup success for Australia. There is a huge burden of expectation externally on Maxwell’s shoulders, but the man himself has a calmness and clarity about his upcoming role.
“I’m not overthinking stuff once I get in-game,” he said. “It’s all automatic. I’m trying to play against the conditions and the opposition and that’s all I’m thinking about. It’s not [a case of] if I play well, we’re going to win a World Cup. There’s no thoughts of that. It’s just if I’m in a contest, I’ll give my best on the day, and then I’m sure that will be a positive impact on the team.”
His ability to read the conditions so quickly in the difficult middle overs role was what impressed RCB the most. Maxwell has an excellent record in T20 cricket in the UAE with eight half-centuries in 31 innings at a strike-rate of 146.26. He will be set to bat No. 4 for Australia, or more specifically post the powerplay as he did for RCB, and will be pivotal to Australia’s chances. Maxwell said the key to that role in the UAE was taking the time in the middle to understand how each surface in the UAE was playing.
“I think it just takes a little bit more time to soak in a bit of information. I think you can get to Australia and bat in that time [the middle overs], and you can probably go a lot earlier, you can try and hit boundaries a lot earlier. It just takes like a few extra balls to actually get used to what’s facing you out there. I think having spent a fair bit of time in the middle over the last month and a bit has really helped me sort of start to get used to that and get used to the pace of the game and pace the wickets.”
RCB also gave him a leadership role. Having thrived in the captaincy role at Melbourne Stars, RCB were keen to utilise his experience in the field.
“Having a bit of responsibility around the group out in the field and he’d speak really well in team meetings,” Griffith said. “Giving him that responsibility to lead different parts of the group fielding positions and making sure everyone’s where they need to be, driving that intensity in the field is a big one for him as well and I think his preparation was great.”
Maxwell also played his part with the ball in the IPL after doing a lot of technical work on his bowling with both Craig Howard in Victoria during his off-season, and RCB and Australia spin coach Sridharan Sriram, particularly on bowling to right-handers.
“We actually had a bit of a joke that he bowled over the wicket to a right-hander for the first time in a couple of years this tournament,” Griffith said. “That just shows you the confidence he’s got in his bowling at the moment. He’s getting up and over and bowling proper offspinners instead of coming round-arm around the wicket and slinging that ball in a fast and flat. He’s in a pretty good space.”
Maxwell wants to give Australia captain Aaron Finch another versatile spinning option alongside Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa, rather than just a specific match-up for left-handers only.
“I think the biggest thing for me first and foremost is to be able to bowl not just to left-handers but to be able to bowl to right-handers and not have to, I suppose, worry about two right-handers being out there,” Maxwell said. “Still be able to close down one side the ground and an offer Finchy an extra option. I suppose that’s the biggest thing I’ve been working really hard on, bowling from over the wicket and being able to attack right-handed batters and it feels like it’s going really well.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Match Preview – South Africa vs India, India in South Africa 2021/22, 2nd ODI
About three weeks ago, India were riding the crest of a wave. They had breached a South African fortress in Centurion, were 1-0 up in the Test series, and had every prospect of turning that into a series-winning lead. However, that belonged in 2021. In 2022, India haven’t won any game in South Africa. Defeats in the last two Tests have been followed up by a loss in the opening ODI, and now India find themselves within one game of returning home with defeats in both the series, a prospect that would have seemed somewhat far-fetched at any point before the tour began or even after the first Test.
Apart from expecting more from their spinners, India will also have to deal with the familiar issue of the middle order lacking runs. It has been the flip side to having a top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli – who have piled on runs relentlessly – that the middle order remains slightly uncooked, and it is not a problem with easy solutions.
While it is unrealistic to expect him to sustain this level of run-scoring in ODIs, it is not as if these numbers are completely out of the blue for van der Dussen. In a List A career spanning 119 matches, his average is just shy of 50.
South Africa WLWLW (last five completed matches; most recent first)
In the spotlight
KL Rahul will face the heat as captain and opening batter. On the eve of the first ODI, he had lauded Venkatesh Iyer’s all-round utility to the ODI side, but then opted not to call him up for a single over with the ball even when the others were being dealt with easily by Temba Bavuma and van der Dussen. It left the question as to why Iyer was preferred to Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan, who arguably offer more as batters alone. And while batting, Rahul opted for some caution even though South Africa opened the bowling with Markram’s part-time offspin.
A favourable match-up against a non-regular bowler with the field up during the powerplay and a steep target to chase should have unlocked Rahul’s free-stroking persona. Instead, he brought out the IPL image of recent vintage: the captain intent on caution. Tactically too, it wasn’t the best move as it allowed South Africa to get six overs out of the fifth bowler’s quota first up, and gave them much greater freedom to use their main bowlers at key moments. How Rahul responds to these as captain and batter will be interesting to see.
If they want to go for a pure bowler, there is Sisanda Magala. In effect, if Markram is not contributing via runs, there is an argument to be made that his part-time bowling can be replaced by someone with greater pedigree.
South Africa are unlikely to make changes to a winning combination from the first ODI. They followed the same philosophy in the Test matches, where Maharaj played the second and third Tests despite having little to do.
South Africa (likely): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Janneman Malan, 3 Temba Bavuma (capt), 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlulwayo, 8 Marco Jansen, 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi
Rahul had said before the series began that while India would look to be flexible tactically, they would ensure those selected got a good run. On that basis, it is not likely that they will make any changes to the side from the first ODI either.
India (likely): 1 KL Rahul (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Venkatesh Iyer, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Pitch and conditions
It is set to be another hot day in Paarl. The surface is slow and aiding spin already, and the heat will dry it out further. The slowness of the pitch is balanced by the shorter boundaries. And so, like in the first ODI, the team winning the toss will look to bat in all probability.
Stats and trivia
“Our thought process is that we are building a team for the 2023 World Cup. So there are going to be a few hiccups here and there. But we all have good clarity that we have got this bunch of players and how we have to refine them. It doesn’t matter if we lose an odd game while trying to do that because we are looking at the bigger picture.”
Shikhar Dhawan isn’t too worried about India’s middle-order issues.
“Definitely a lot more in favour of the Indian players, more like a subcontinent pitch rather than a South African pitch. So that’s what makes the victory even sweeter, basically in foreign conditions, we outplayed them.”
Tabraiz Shamsi on the pitch at Boland Park, and why the win in the first ODI was significant.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Brandon King has his sights on 2022 T20 World Cup
WI vs Eng, 2022 – Jason Roy returns to action with 36-ball hundred ahead of West Indies T20Is
England signalled his fitness by smashing 115 off 47 in a warm-up match ahead of the T20I series against West Indies
England 231 for 4 (Roy 115, Vince 40*) beat Barbados Cricket Association President’s XI 137 for 11 (Springer 36, Mills 3-25) by 94 runs
But his onslaught, which contained nine fours and ten sixes, signalled his fitness ahead of the five-match T20I series that starts on Saturday and will be staged in Barbados in its entirety.
Roy added 141 in 61 balls with Tom Banton – who kept wicket and was preferred to Phil Salt at the top of the order – for the opening stand, 92 of which came in the six-over powerplay.
Ashley Nurse slowed the scoring through the middle phase, taking 2 for 20 in four overs with his offbreaks, and removing Roy and Moeen Ali in the space of five balls.
But James Vince, Eoin Morgan and Salt – in an unfamiliar role at No. 6 – struck some late blows to take England to an imposing total of 231 for 4.
England used eight bowlers – five seamers and three spinners – in their defence, taking regular wickets to keep their opponents to 137 for the loss of 11 wickets, with each team fielding 13 players.
Tymal Mills took three wickets, Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan picked up two each, and Reece Topley, Saqib Mahmood and Liam Dawson shared three more between them.
David Payne, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone – who the PA news agency reported has been suffering from illness in recent days – were the squad members not involved, while Sam Billings arrived on the island after a gruelling long-haul journey from Hobart.
Shamar Springer, who was part of West Indies’ World Cup-winning Under-19 team in 2016 and has played for Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL, top-scored with 36 off 23 balls from No. 7.
On Tuesday, West Indies had comfortably beaten the BCA President’s XI on the same ground. They restricted their opponents to 131 for 6, with Hayden Walsh Jr taking 2 for 28, and then batted on past their target to reach 169 for 4 in 19.2 overs. Kyle Mayers, who opened the batting with Brandon King, top-scored with 38.
Match Preview – South Africa vs India, India in South Africa 2021/22, 2nd ODI
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