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Maxwell delights in captain calls

Dynamic allrounder shares how he approaches the game as skipper

Andrew Ramsey

14 February 2019, 01:21 PM AEST

Exclusive look at Maxi's preparation

It's his disdain for orthodoxy that so often riles Glenn Maxwell's critics, but the mercurial all-rounder believes his unconventional approach to limited-overs cricket is a key to captaincy in the white-ball formats.

Maxwell will lead Melbourne Stars into tonight's semi-final against KFC Big Bash League pacesetters Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena, with a 7-4 win-loss record since taking over at the helm this season.

So impressed is Mitchell Johnson with his 2015 World Cup-winning teammate's leadership qualities, he named Maxwell as his preferred Australia captain for the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup tournament in the UK.

While Johnson acknowledges his left-field choice "might raise some eyebrows", Maxwell has revealed that he takes a captain's view of every match he plays, even those in which he carries no formal leadership role.

"I feel like every time I've played in a team, I've acted as a captain," Maxwell told cricket.com.au after being honoured as T20 Men's International Player of the Year at last Monday night's Australian Cricket Awards.

"I've probably always looked at the game as a captain, and always tried to help out different captains in a way that will help the team.

"There's certainly not an extra burden of responsibility.

"It just feels like it's something I've always been ready to do.

"A captaincy role, a way to control the game, a way to understand the game, a way to understand the opposition.

"For someone who watches as much cricket as I do, I understand what the opposition players are trying to do.

"Being a batsman, you understand what the batters are thinking and trying to manoeuvre their way around a bowler."

T20 Player of the Year: Glenn Maxwell

In outlining his approach to captaincy, Maxwell also shed light on the thought processes that underpin his approach to limited-overs batting which can dramatically change the momentum of games, and occasionally leave him open to stinging criticism.

The way Maxwell explains it, when at the crease he knows his preferred hitting areas dependent on field settings, rival bowlers, boundary distances, prevailing wind and any other variables that might come into play.

But he also realises that the opposing captain is likely on the same wavelength, and will therefore deploy a strategy to minimise the options being eyed by the batter.

Which will lead a player of Maxwell's inventiveness to conjure, in his mind's eye, an altogether different attack plan to try and stay a step ahead, and to score in areas that his rivals' least expect.

Maxwell stuns with allround performance

It's that level of strategic fluidity that Maxwell tries to bring to his captaincy.

"It's almost a case of triple-bluffing a player, because they can read your games," Maxwell said.

"Even in the death overs, when they're trying to improvise, I know what they're thinking.

"When I set a field, I know where they're going to go, and I know where I can tell the bowler to bowl.

"It gets to that sort of level when you're captaining, and I really enjoy that part of the game and that excitement of testing your mental skills against someone else."

Maxwell's captaincy experience is comparatively limited – his 11 matches at the Stars' helm this summer, plus 14 games in the Indian Premier League where he also played alongside Johnson for Kings XI Punjab.

By contrast, his rival skipper in tonight's BBL semi-final, Matthew Wade, boasts an extensive leadership CV.

Not only has Wade been at the helm for both Victoria and now Tasmania teams since 2013, he captained Maxwell in a dozen Shield games and almost as many domestic one-day fixtures over the past six summers.

In addition, Wade's captaincy predecessor George Bailey has skippered Maxwell in almost 50 one-day and T20 internationals for Australia, so between them the Hurricanes leadership duo will share some deep insights into their rival's thinking come game time tonight.

And that's another element of captaincy that Maxwell wholeheartedly embraces.

"I love to test my cricket knowledge against anyone else in the Big Bash, and it's been great fun so far captaining against some of the better captains in Australia and just the challenge of coming up against those players," Maxwell said.

"Seeing how I go, and seeing how the players I have in my side back that up and stick to their plans, and are able to execute their plans.

"It might not come off all the time, but when it does come off it's a nice feeling.

"And it's sometimes a better feeling than actually making runs yourself."