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AUSTRALIA V INDIA TESTS

Broken bat a reward for unbroken pride

20 April 2017

Maxwell with Tony Baker (left) and Trevor Miller (right) at South Belgrave's presentation night // Supplied by Trevor Miller

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Test allrounder opens up about returning to his junior club after scoring his maiden century

About the Writer:
 @martinsmith9994

Martin Smith is a writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for Yahoo!7 Sport and Fox Sports.

The enormity of finally becoming a Test century-maker didn't completely hit Glenn Maxwell until two weeks after his emotional celebration in the middle of Ranchi's JSCA Stadium.

With just a handful of days between the end of the Test series and the start of the Indian Premier League, Maxwell briefly returned home to see his family, who'd watched his memorable knock in the third Test on television, some 9000km away in Melbourne.

Quick Single: Maxwell relaxed about Ashes chances

Purely by chance, Maxwell's return to his home city for just two days coincided with the end-of-season presentation night at his junior club South Belgrave, located across the road from his childhood home and is where his love for the game first started to blossom.

Having already promised to donate to the club the bat he'd snapped clean in half during that hundred in Ranchi, Maxwell decided to deliver the memento in person.

Maxwell's bat-breaking start to day two

And it was in these humble surrounds that the full magnitude of what he'd achieved finally sunk in.

"To chat to those guys and see how proud they were, they've seen me since I was an eight-year-old at the club," he told cricket.com.au this week.

"To see the joy in their faces and hear it in their voices was probably when it all hit a little bit and when I realised how special it all was. They've given me unbelievable support ever since I was a junior.

"So that was a good time for it to sink in and share a moment with a lot of the people who've known me for the longest and know what I'm like on and off the field."

Maxwell and Umesh Yadav after the Australian's bat snapped in two // BCCI
Maxwell and Umesh Yadav after the Australian's bat snapped in two // BCCI

South Belgrave, a 45-minute drive south-east of the Melbourne CBD, is typical of the amateur sporting clubs that are dotted around Australia, offering cricket in summer and footy in winter.

Maxwell played both sports as a junior before his cricketing career took off and his family remains intrinsically involved with the club, as they have been for decades.

So it's fitting that his broken bat and signed Test shirt will take a prominent spot in the new club rooms when they're finally completed later this year, after years of fundraising, planning and waiting.

"Because we've known him for so long, the cricket club is like his family," says club secretary and incoming president Trevor Miller, who jokes he's known Maxwell since he was "a 10-year-old kid running around annoying us at the start of training".

"When he goes into bat, our whole club is on the edge of their seats.

"There are certain people who aren't allowed to watch because whenever they turn the TV on and he's batting, he gets out. So they can only get messages about it.

"The second day of that Test ... I don't think there were many people from the club who didn't see that. We were all on the edge of our seats willing him on.

Maxwell celebrates with his teammates in Ranchi // BCCI
Maxwell celebrates with his teammates in Ranchi // BCCI

"No one knew he was coming (to the presentation night). I think there was a couple of people who knew ... but he flew in the day before and it was fantastic for him to come. It was really good for the club. We are really proud of him.”

Of course, most of the emotion of Maxwell scoring a maiden Test century for Australia, becoming just the 134th man to do so, came out in his celebration on that memorable second day in Ranchi.

After two false starts and a two-and-a-half-year exile from the Test side, the Victorian was fortunate to earn a spot in the touring party after - by his own admission - some less-than-flattering returns in his limited Sheffield Shield appearances over the summer.

But having long touted his ability as a long-form player, Maxwell finally took his chance to put his words into action.

"I think there was a lot of unfinished business having played those first three Tests (in 2013 and 2014) where I'd underperformed," he says.

"I didn't show what I was capable of in red-ball cricket ... and I think that was probably the biggest sigh of relief for myself. I showed that this is why I've always said that this is my best format, this is how I can bat and this is how I can bat for a long period of time and hopefully win games for Australia.

Maxwell celebrates emotional Test century

"I've always said I wanted to play all three formats and be a match-winner and not just be another number. I want to win games for my country.

"All the 28 years of build-up was basically for that moment, which was as special as it gets. In an away Test, in a pressure situation and batting with the skipper at the other end. It was as special a moment as I've had on a cricket field as an individual. Everything just felt perfect and I didn't want it to end.

"When Smudge (captain Steve Smith) pushed me away after giving me a massive hug he said: 'this is your moment. Enjoy it'.

"I just remember not wanting it to end and I didn't really want to face up for a while. I wanted to chill out and enjoy it and soak it all in. I still remember that moment as clear as day.

"Mum and Dad were ecstatic. They've been my number one and two supporters. I Skyped them and they were just so excited. Mum was crying and you could see how proud Dad was as well so it was a very special moment.

"They know how hard I've worked to get there and they've been there through every bump in the road and they've ridden every bump with me."

Maxwell's emotional celebration after reaching his century // BCCI
Maxwell's emotional celebration after reaching his century // BCCI

And his one regret?

"I just wish I'd brought it up with a slightly more conventional shot," he laughs, recalling the edged cut shot that raced between slip and gully to the third-man boundary, moving him from 99 to three figures.

"I guess it was always going to be something strange. Like the way I brought up my T20 hundred (when he was dropped off a no-ball against Sri Lanka), it was always going to be a dropped catch or something strange.

"But really, who cares?"

Certainly no one at South Belgrave Cricket Club does.

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