ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
How Ponting’s call sparked record win
Glenn Maxwell reflects on 2018 win at Eden Park, lauds Ricky Ponting’s influence and discusses his move to No.7 in the ODI team
16 February 2019, 12:09 PM AEST
It was within the confines of Eden Park's visitors changerooms – where many a rugby team has contemplated a mauling from the rampant All Blacks – that Ricky Ponting's coaching genius was laid bare.
Ponting, who was recently confirmed as part of the Australia men's team coaching structure for this year's ICC World Cup, was serving in a similar role a year ago today when another Auckland bruising loomed large.
This one came in the guise of 20-over cricket, as the Black Caps – spurred on by a heaving full-house – thrashed 6-243 from a helpless Australia attack and thereby set the visitors a target never-before achieved in the T20I format.
As acting skipper David Warner and his men licked their wounds and gathered their thoughts during the brief innings break, Ponting (assistant to then-coach Darren Lehmann) strode into the room and gave his blunt, learned assessment.
"It was matter-of-fact - 'we're going to chase these runs down, comfortably – not just reach the target, we're going to chase these runs down with an over to spare'," recalls allrounder Glenn Maxwell, who was among the batters kitting-up to begin the daunting pursuit.
"Our players heard that and went 'all right, no worries', and then we looked around at D'Arcy Short, David Warner, Chris Lynn, myself and Aaron Finch – we looked at that top five and went 'there's not many better top fives in the world, so let's go out and do this'.
"That's the sort of confidence that he gave us as a team.
"Not only by the words he said, but through the conviction with which he said them.
"The confidence that he gave the group when he walked into the changeroom was undoubted, and just something different."
History shows that Australia not only set a new benchmark by reeling-in New Zealand's huge total, they reached it from the penultimate ball of the 19th over in line with the assistant coach's bullish prediction.
Maxwell is an unashamed acolyte of Ponting, who was the Victorian's boyhood idol before becoming a trusted and valued mentor in recent years.
And while Australia are currently ranked sixth on the ICC ODI rankings table, which is headed by World Cup hosts England, Maxwell believes Ponting's presence during the quadrennial tournament this year hugely increases his team's chances of defending the trophy.
When it is suggested that Ponting's mere presence among the group enables them to immediately walk taller, Maxwell ascribes the former Test captain and triple-World Cup winner's influence as even more profound.
"He makes you feel like you can walk on water sometimes" Maxwell told cricket.com.au shortly after being crowned Men's International T20 Player of the Year at the Australian Cricket Awards in Melbourne last Monday.
"He's a good person for the batters to talk different tactics with because he can read someone's technique really well.
"And he's an unbelievable coach in the way that he coaches technique and the basics of the game.
"He can spend five minutes with you and work out any flaws and strengths that can slightly help, without changing your game too much.
"He can even change your mindset with just a conversation because of his amazing ability.
"He's someone I've grown very fond of, not just because of the way that I idolised him as a kid but because of the way that I've seen him go about his coaching and been able to see his impact first-hand."
Australia's World Cup campaign, which begins against Afghanistan at Bristol on June 1, has become such a focus for Maxwell that he will play more than 20 one-day matches between now and the tournament getting underway.
In addition to the upcoming five-ODI Qantas Tour of India (that also includes two T20Is) and a further five ODIs against Pakistan in the UAE, Maxwell has signed to play with county outfit Lancashire in preference to returning to the lucrative Indian Premier League.
If, as expected, the 30-year-old is among the 15-man World Cup squad that Australia must name before April 23, he will then return to Brisbane where the group will undertake a pre-tournament training camp as well as three practice matches against New Zealand.
While the perennial debate over the likelihood of Maxwell regaining the Test place appears to have quelled, it has been replaced by controversy as to whether he should bat higher than the No.7 berth he has occupied in the ODI set-up of late.
Coach Justin Langer explained the rationale behind that ploy last month, comparing the role that Maxwell fills in the lower-middle order to that performed by Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey in previously successful Australia ODI outfits.
"When Maxi can come in and put the finishing touches on like he does, for me it's the perfect position," Langer said.
Maxwell admits he continues to aspire to a role higher in the ODI order.
But he recognises that established top-order performers such as Finch and Shaun Marsh – as well as Warner and Steve Smith, should they immediately return to the fold when their suspensions are lifted next month – have earned first crack at those opportunities.
The mercurial allrounder was elevated to the top five for the start of Australia's five-match ODI tour to India in September 2017, but managed scores of 39, 14 and 5 before he was axed from the side altogether as his team slumped to a 4-1 series defeat.
"It is limited-overs cricket, and we need our best limited-overs players facing the most amount of balls possible for their impact on the game," Maxwell said.
"I suppose the coaches and the selectors have worked out that my best position is to be lower down to have an impact on the game, and that's fine.
"It's up to them.
"I've always harboured thoughts of being higher up in the order, but I probably haven't made enough of the opportunities I've been given in practice games and in other games to be higher up in the order.
"So whatever role I'm given in this Australian team, I'll take it and try and do as well as I can."
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Qantas tour of India
First T20: February 24, Visakhapatnam
Second T20: February 27, Bengaluru
First ODI: March 2, Hyderabad
Second ODI: March 5, Nagpur
Third ODI: March 8, Ranchi
Fourth ODI: March 10, Mohali
Fifth ODI: March 13, Delhi