Indian Premier League 2017
Maxwell on cusp of 'penny-drop' moment
Glenn Maxwell took Kings XI from the cellar to a win away from the IPL playoffs in his first season in charge, and Ricky Ponting says there is better still to come
18 May 2017, 09:40 PM AEST
Like one of his Indian Premier League innings, Glenn Maxwell's past few months have been anything but dull.
And despite copping a parting shot at tournament's end from an Indian legend, the explosive Australian's career is on the brink of 'taking off', according to former Test captain Ricky Ponting.
On the back of a landmark maiden Test century, Maxwell embarked on his first season as captain of Kings XI Punjab having only done the job a handful of times at state second XI and club level.
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Described by Ponting as the "basket-case" of the previous year's IPL and coming off back-to-back bottom-of-the-table finishes, Punjab undoubtedly presented a hefty challenge for a first-time skipper.
Run-ins with the press – having taken issue (perhaps rightly) with a journalist inferring a technical weakness against spin – and with umpires – in particular an official who called a no-ball against Punjab after he "forgot to tell the batsman to move" – coloured an eventful campaign for Maxwell.
But the Victorian seemingly took the up-and-downs in his stride, keeping his trademark sense of humour, and led the embattled franchise from cellar-dwellers to within one win of a playoff berth.
Yet after they lost their must-win final match against Pune convincingly, Kings XI Punjab director of cricket Virender Sehwag labelled the efforts of the club's foreign imports, including Maxwell, "a disappointment" and accused them of failing to take responsibility.
"We always knew that when Maxwell fires, then he can win the match on his own," the Indian legend said. "But he didn't fire in eight or nine games.
"That is a big disappointment, especially since he's experienced, having played for Australia's Test and ODI teams.
"He didn't take the responsibility as a captain and didn't perform for Kings XI Punjab."
Ponting on the other hand is far more upbeat about Maxwell's first campaign at the helm of the franchise.
No stranger to the stresses and tests of leadership, Ponting admitted he wasn't expecting Maxwell to be handed the reins at Punjab after India Test opener Murali Vijay had been appointed midway through the preceding season.
"I was a little bit surprised that he was given the captaincy because they finished last year's IPL quite well," Ponting explained to cricket.com.au.
"(But) when I say I was surprised, I was also rapt for (Maxwell) as well. I think he's the sort of guy who would thrive with that added responsibility.
"When there's a situation that pops up in a game where he really needs to stand up and get a job done, he does it. I think that's a sign of guy who likes the extra responsibility.
"From where they were last year, they were pretty much the basket-case last year, it seems like they've improved. So well done to him."
While Maxwell's numbers didn't reach the lofty heights of his 2014 player-of-the-tournament season, the explosive right-hander had a significant impact on this year's IPL.
Despite failing to reach 50 in any of his 13 hits, he was the home-and-away season's leading six-hitter, clearing the ropes 26 times for the tournament while his strike-rate of 173.18 was the highest among the 2017 IPL's top-20 leading run-scorers.
But having batted in every position between number three and six, and only occupying the same spot in the order in consecutive games on three occasions, Ponting believes Maxwell could have benefited from a more concrete role at the top of the order.
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"Looking through the stats, he's hit the most sixes in the tournament again this year but hasn't really translated into a consistent tournament for him this year," Ponting said.
"Looking at what (Punjab) have done, he's batted pretty much every position in the order and that can't be an easy thing to do.
"He's obviously trying to do the right thing by the team and find the right match-ups for other players, and also himself.
"But he'd be better off just going out at number three or number four in every game and giving himself the best chance to have a really dominant IPL season."
Having fought his way back into Australia's one-day international side, next month's Champions Trophy looms as a defining tournament for Maxwell.
And with an Ashes series also on the horizon, Ponting believes the 28-year-old, one of just three Australians to have scored tons in each international format, may be on the brink of becoming a key figure in all three Australia sides.
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"We all talk about the 'penny-drop' or that little moment when a player's career really takes off," the 168-Test veteran said.
"I think it's about three-quarters of the way dropped for 'Maxi' now.
"When it finally drops, he works out the way he needs to play for the team and works out the way he can be a really consistent player for Australia then I think we'll start seeing some really good cricket from him.
"Having got back into the Test team and having made that first Test hundred in India, that could be the start of a really long international career for him.
"Whether it be one-day cricket, T20 cricket or finding a way to keep himself in the Test team and playing well in the Test team.
"Let's hope it is because we all know what he's capable of and as a fan now, we'd all like to see Maxwell get an extended run and play up to his capability for a few years."
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.
Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.
26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval
27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston
28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval
29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston
30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston
30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval
1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)