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Maxwell named ODI Player of the Year

27 January 2016

Maxwell celebrates his World Cup century against Sri Lanka // Getty

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In a year that produced his maiden ODI ton, Glenn Maxwell has been named the country's best 50-over cricketer

About the Writer:
 @ARamseyCricket

Andrew Ramsey is the senior writer for cricket.com.au. He previously wrote for the Guardian, The Australian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and the author of The Wrong Line.

On being crowned Australia’s premier T20 cricketer a year ago, Glenn Maxwell self-deprecatingly claimed he was slowly getting the hang of how to bat in the white ball form of the game to which he seems so intrinsically suited.

Allan Border Medal coverage

"During this World Cup I’m hoping you’ll see a more mature and a more equipped player in the middle-order," Maxwell foreshadowed at the Allan Border Medal presentation 12 months earlier, before going on to play a vital role in Australia’s success at the showpiece ODI tournament.

ODI Player of the Year Glenn Maxwell // Getty Images

Not only was he true to his own words, scoring a breakthrough maiden one-day century in a clutch World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Sydney, he now wears the crown of his country’s best 50-over cricketer.

In what was essentially an ‘Olympic year’ for the original limited-overs form of the game.

He finished with 28 votes across the 20-match polling window, three clear of World Cup Player of the Tournament Mitchell Starc and a further two votes ahead of surprise third-place getter Mitchell Marsh.

With pre-count favourites Steve Smith (21 votes) and David Warner (20) fourth and fifth respectively.

At his current rate of evolution, it would be unwise to dismiss the 27-year-old’s chances of being honoured as Test Player of the Year when the Border Medal votes are tallied a year hence.

Even though his absence from recent Test squads would suggest that being about as likely as Maxwell is conventional.

Watch: Maxwell's entertaining 95

Certainly, the batting all-rounder - who admits to sometimes having so many potential shots to unveil against any single delivery that he is often his own most dangerous opponent – has made no secret that adding substantially to his current tally of three Test appearances is his overriding ambition.

And if Maxwell is able to answer the queries over his capacity to fuse his white-ball flair with the infallibility demanded by the red-ball format in the same way he has responded to unambiguous calls for him to play smarter, then a Test call-up can’t be far away.

Keeping in mind that over the next year or so Australia is scheduled to play major Test series in Sri Lanka (next July) and India (early 2017) where his developing off-spin looms as a more attractive option than a seam-bowling all-rounder.

Given his capacity to entertain, his undoubted array of skills and his willingness to speak openly and honesty about his performances, it is curious to find that the Victorian can generate such polarised opinions in the unforgiving forum of social media.

Almost as many who celebrate his showmanship are known to take umbrage at what they perceive to be a flaunting of talent that borders on profligate, and it is those who delight in perpetuating Maxwell’s unwanted and undeserved alias of ‘The Big Show’.

Watch: Maxwell's maiden ODI ton

It’s a sobriquet that Maxwell neither regards nor responds to, largely because he instead covets the title of ‘Finisher’ that currently resides with James Faulkner, player of the match in the World Cup Final triumph who polled 11 votes to finish eighth in tonight’s ODI award.

Prior to the World Cup, which Maxwell finished as Australia’s third-highest runs scorer behind Smith and Warner, he spoke earnestly about his wish to shed the nickname bestowed upon him by commentators rather than teammates and the discomfort it causes him.

“I took different criticism to heart, I didn't let all of it miss me," Maxwell said of the social media chatter and occasionally more authoritative commentary that labelled him all big show and no substance.

“I like to think I'm quite laid back and I can cop criticism but sometimes it hits pretty close to home and you sometimes think it's a personal attack on you.

“People are saying I'm an egocentric show-off who doesn't care for the team, sometimes that hurts and don't really understand that.

“For anyone who knows me I'm not like that at all.

“Every time I've ever played for whatever team I've always tried to win the game for the team and have the team's best interests at heart.

Watch: Maxwell magic finishes off the Black Caps

“Some people might not think so. Some people might think that all the different shots are me trying to stand out which is complete rubbish and that's the hardest thing to deal with I think.

“When people have a crack at you for being something different, apart from the team.

“I don't want to be known as 'Big Show' or anything like that. I just want to be known as an integral part of Australian cricket.”

Having progressed from T20 novelty act to vital component of Australia’s one-day line-up that is already planning its World Cup defence in the UK come 2019, Maxwell’s second trophy win from as many Border Medal evenings will fuel him with even greater confidence that a Test career beckons.

Even if his national coach, Darren Lehmann who was absent from tonight’s awards ceremony as he continues his recuperation from a bout of deep vein thrombosis, likes to regularly remind the mercurial all-rounder of his fallibilities.

Watch: Maxwell takes a stunning catch

Lehmann recognises Maxwell’s innate ability and his grab bag of trick shots – some of which, like his trademark reverse sweep, were cultivated in the schoolyard where the boy from Kew was forced to bat left-handed to give his peers some hope of dismissing him.

But the coach also believes that with that level of talent can come a disrespect for the game’s basics and a disrespect for the hard yards that other lesser talents take on board from an early age.

And Lehmann believes that sometimes the optimal method by which to get that view through to a player is via a public rebuke, delivered through the vehicle of the media.

“He understands he’s got to be a better cricketer to get to where we want to get to, and he’s got the talent,” Lehmann pronounced during the dominant summer of 2013-14 after Maxwell squandered a chance to guide his team home against an England team that was, at that stage, winless on tour.

Then, earlier this season when Maxwell surrendered his wicket to an injudicious swipe in a Matador One-Day Cup match for Victoria against Queensland, Lehmann was again waiting with brickbat in hand.

“He's exciting, but we have to see him be really hungry to make big runs," Lehmann said in a subsequent radio interview.

“He was out caught at deep third man (against Queensland) where the wicket was low and slow. He really could have played a technical innings, which we know he can do."

Watch: Maxwell smashes half-century

Maxwell subsequently admitted the postponement for security reasons of Australia’s planned Test tour to Bangladesh last October – a series for which he was selected and was expected to resume his Test career – had proved a disappointment from which he initially struggled to bounce back.

Having enjoyed such a fruitful World Cup, and then an ODI campaign in the UK after the Ashes that netted him runs and wickets, Maxwell felt his ambition of gaining and retaining a Test berth beckoned in Bangladesh.

Only to find his name missing from the Test list when the squad for the series at home against New Zealand was announced the following month.

"I was pretty upset I was missing out on an opportunity to play for my country (in Bangladesh) and really put a good step forward,” Maxwell said when asked about his sluggish start to the home summer.

"After playing so well in the one-dayers in England I was really looking forward to taking that into the Tests, to have that series ripped away from me and the squad to change when we got back to Australia was pretty upsetting.

"It probably affected me too much, because it affected the way I played the game and the way I went about it. It didn't reflect too well on myself ... and it showed in my results as well."

But the freedom of expression granted by the KFC Big Bash League followed by a couple of important innings of substance during the run-glut VB ODI Series against India just completed have enabled Maxwell to reclaim his rhythm.

Watch: Maxwell stuns India 

Now, with a second individual trophy in as many summers by which to plot his evolution to regular Test player, even greater rewards beckon.

And it would be a brave pundit who dismisses his chances of him being the show stopper in future editions of Australian cricket’s big night.

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