Dettol ODI Series v India
Maxwell's silver lining has him primed for Indian summer
Australia allrounder in a good space ahead of limited-overs series against India despite a busy period away from the comforts of home in UK and UAE
20 November 2020, 05:40 PM AEST
With silver linings emanating from the global pandemic still as scant as a viable vaccine, Glenn Maxwell believes the trial brought by COVID19 lockdowns and an ever-shifting sports landscape have proved a timely test for his refreshed outlook.
Maxwell, who took a two-month break from top-level cricket a year ago for mental health reasons, is yet to return to full training for the Dettol ODI and T20 Series against India that begins at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Friday.
But his unwillingness to pick up a bat has nothing to do with his state of mind, and everything to do with the state of the world given he's currently among players from both teams completing two weeks of mandatory quarantine having returned from the Indian Premier League earlier this month.
And instead of feeling jaded by lockdown stints in the UK, the UAE and now Australia over recent months, interspersed with cricket commitments played in empty stadia, Maxwell finds himself in a good space and excited by the summer ahead.
He can also see how the time he spent away from the game last season has better prepared him for the stresses of 'bubble life' in the age of COVID19, and even enabled him to provide comfort and reassurance to others who find themselves struggling with such markedly changed circumstances.
"I think in hindsight it was probably a pretty good time to go through something like that, where I was able to put some groundwork in to deal with adversity," Maxwell said from his Sydney hotel room today.
"This year has certainly been a massive test of it, and to put (in place) some of my learnings and help other people with it and be a shoulder for other people to lean on, that's probably been something I didn’t expect last year.
"But to be able to help people through different tough periods and be able to help myself through those has been really key as well."
After a blazing return to Australia's ODI outfit in September – he clubbed a century in the final match against England to help seal a series win over the reigning world champions – Maxwell admits he endured a frustrating IPL campaign.
Twice crowned the most prolific six-hitter in previous iterations of the tournament, he didn't once clear the boundary for Kings XI Punjab and averaged just 15 from 11 innings as he was routinely required to rescue a top-order collapse or swing hard at a few remaining deliveries.
As a result, and with just three hours day per day training permitted under the New South Wales quarantine restrictions, it's been weeks since Maxwell has padded up in the practice nets.
However, he doesn't believe it will negatively impact his ability to adapt to the 50-over game – with three ODIs preceding the T20Is in the Dettol Series played in Sydney and Canberra – given he played one of the best ODI innings of his career just two months ago.
"I've actually put the tools down for a bit, just trying to work on a bit of fitness and have a bit of a run around to stay mentally fresh and get ready for what's a big summer to come," Maxwell said.
"I've probably overdone it a bit, as far as training goes in the UAE (where the IPL was staged).
"I went pretty hard there, so came back and felt like I needed a bit of a break and the Cricket Australia staff here have been really good, having a talk through that and making sure each individual has the best plan going into the next series.
"I'm sure it will be fine.
"I was hitting the ball fine (in the IPL), I just wasn't getting much of a crack but that can happen.
"What I went through last year, I think I'm better equipped to deal with those sorts of things now. "I'm looking at the bigger picture and understanding my role in the Australian side, trying to put the IPL aside and thinking about what I need to do to get ready for every game.
"So that when the time comes, and when I need it, I can perform really well."
Maxwell revealed that despite being confined to quarters and unable to train as a full squad until immediately prior to Friday's first ODI, the Australia players and coaches have been holding planning meetings via remote technology to prepare for India.
Among the issues discussed has been the form of India opener K.L. Rahul, a teammate of Maxwell's at Kings XI Punjab this year, who finished the tournament as the leading runs scorer.
"He was a gun," Maxwell said of the 28-year-old right-hander.
"We had a team meeting the other day and they came to me and asked how I thought we should get him out, and one of things I said was try and run him out.
"So I think that's what we're going to try and do the whole way through the series, try and run him out and hope for the best.
"He's a great performer … got a great temperament, great head on his shoulders and is extremely calm in pressure situations."
Maxwell also highlighted the importance to his team's plans of leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who has dismissed India captain Virat Kohli more times in ODI matches (five) than any other Australia bowler.
"He's been very good against Virat, and one of the key things is having good match-ups against their batsmen," Maxwell said.
"Adam's obviously had a pretty good time against Virat in recent history, but you can guarantee that Virat's working just has hard to combat that.
"He's an incredibly hard trainer and hard worker, and you know he's putting in all the work to combat our attack in any way possible."
Another element of the upcoming series that will be vastly different to his most recent experiences will be the presence of crowds at all games in the two Dettol Series.
CA announced today that five of the six ODI and T20I games had already sold out, with limited tickets available for the men's international season opener at the SCG on Friday.
Having played in front of empty stands in England, and to the accompaniment of 'canned' crowd noise in the UAE, Maxwell admits the presence of spectators will make for a welcome shift.
"It is exciting," he said.
"It should be really cool, but even during the IPL we had the fake noise which actually helped a little bit.
"Having that slight atmosphere to it was quite nice.
"But to have actual, real people there will be even better.
"I can assure you the guys are looking forward to playing in front of them a putting on a good show, and hopefully continuing that form from England where we played so well."