ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Maxwell hails Kohli, de Villiers influence for confidence boost
Australia's in-form middle order lynchpin says spending time learning from Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at the IPL has him feeling bullet proof
19 October 2021, 06:55 PM AEST
If Australia finally break their T20 World Cup hoodoo, they might have to thank Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Glenn Maxwell does not subscribe to the notion, advanced by many Australian fans eager to see the side claim the only the major men's trophy they have never won, that his performances could make or break their title tilt over the coming weeks.
"In my mind I'm not sure I've completely embraced (being Australia's match winner) … It's not, 'If I play well, we're going to win a World Cup,' there's no thoughts of that," Maxwell told reporters from the United Arab Emirates where he will make his return to Australian colours in a final warm-up game against India on Wednesday.
The allrounder nonetheless will head into Saturday's tournament opener with sky-high confidence from a stunning Indian Premier League campaign for the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore.
During a sizzling second stage of the tournament, Maxwell slammed 290 runs at an average of 41.43, dazzling viewers with his innovative stroke-play. Used in a floating middle-order position which saw him come in after the Powerplay was finished, he expects to play a similar role for Australia.
And while his match-winning performances certainly wouldn't have hurt, Maxwell has instead credited the feeling of being "10-feet tall" simply to spending time playing and training alongside T20 dynamos Kohli and de Villiers.
"Every day was a learning experience, every day I was I was finding something new out – I was being a sponge to Virat and AB, just watching the way they go about things," said the 33-year-old.
"That's always been the one thing in the IPL I've been extremely thankful of – the opportunities that it gives you to learn off the best players in the world.
"I was extremely fortunate to have two of the greats of the game in the same team and in the same batting line up and were open to sharing their experiences and talk to me about their game.
"It makes you feel 10-feet tall when you've got your backing and they're watching you or asking you questions. It just makes you feel confident, it just makes you feel happy. It was just nice to have a nice, comfortable environment."
Maxwell's IPL success came on the same UAE pitches Australia will begin their World Cup campaign (in Abu Dhabi) this Saturday at 9pm AEDT against South Africa.
His expectation those surfaces will largely mirror the IPL and not be universally conducive to high-scoring may indeed amplify his skills.
The IPL's league-wide strike-rate dropped from over 140 during the opening stage of the tournament (played in India in April-May) to under 125 for the games in the UAE.
Despite that, Maxwell's strike-rate during the second stage remained over 140.
"If I continue the process I've been doing at the IPL, I know I'm going to have success," he said. "It's a nice position to be in mentally that I've come off a good run of form. I'm not overthinking the stuff in-game."
As a whole, Australia's batting line-up will need to adopt a less traditional approach to limited-overs cricket if Maxwell's recent IPL experience is anything to go by.
White-ball games played on true, bouncy wickets often allow for teams to 'catch up' towards the end of their batting innings, meaning lower-order players (or set top-order batters) can score at upwards of 10 per over at the death.
It was precisely the strategy Australia took to the most recent 50-over World Cup in 2019.
On lower, more spin-friendly pitches when prime batting time is against the new ball, that philosophy may have to be reversed, explained Maxwell.
"I don't think it's going to be (scores in the) 220s and 230s that people have come to expect from small grounds like Sharjah," said Maxwell, who sat out Australia's warm-up match victory over New Zealand on Monday.
"In saying that if someone gets in from the Powerplay and gets going, anything can happen because if you get used to conditions you can certainly make the most of them and dominate a team.
"But the trend of the games over here has been (that) it's been really tough in the last four or five hours – the ball gets softer, the bounce almost disappears. There weren't too many people that (scored) over 10-an-over for the last five overs.
"It's not like I suppose other places around the world where you can cash in later on. I think it's about cashing in at the front end and then try to hold off as long as possible."
Maxwell also hopes to have a role with the ball at the World Cup having worked with spin gurus Craig Howard (back in Melbourne) and Sridharan Sriram (with the national side) in recent months.
"The biggest thing for me … is to be able to bowl not just to left-handers," said the off-spinner, whose stock ball turning away from lefties is generally seen as an advantage against them.
"I've been working really hard on bowling from over the wicket and being able to attack right-handed batters."
2021 Men's T20 World Cup
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams
How the teams are grouped
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, B1, A2