Tag: Glenn Maxwell

Which ball was the best ball out of Glenn Maxwell’s magnificent 10-ball innings

Glenn-Maxwell-images-via-ICC-video

2019 Cricket World Cup, Game 26, Australia v Bangladesh

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Watch the Al Jazeera match fixing documentary

If you want to watch that Al Jazeera documentary about match-fixing (spot fixing, actually) to see for yourself whether the allegations have any merit, here it is (or click here).

The film went out in May, but it’s in the news again this week because Glenn Maxwell’s been talking about it. He’s understandably less than delighted to have been all but accused of involvement.

Maxwell wasn’t named, but the film makers say at what point in an India v Australia Test match the alleged fix took place and then when they’re talking about ‘suspicious’ activity by the batsman, they show some blurry footage of a guy who moves like Glenn Maxwell wearing Glenn Maxwell’s clothes using Glenn Maxwell’s bat.

The fixing fella says that a given over will result in a ‘low score’ and then it turns out to be a maiden. The narrator says that the batsman “appeared to be trying not to score runs.” (In a Test match! Whatever next?)

Examining the footage, Ed Hawkins (who wrote Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy: A Journey to the Heart of Cricket’s Underworld) describes the batsman as being “like a cat on hot coals” – which sounds precisely like a fully normal Glenn Maxwell innings to us. (You kind of wonder whether Ed would watch old footage of Phil Tufnell backing away and also find that suspicious.)

Ed adds that the batsman is, “just desperately trying to get on top of the ball and cover any edge that might squirt off and concede a run.”

Or, you know, squirt off into someone’s hands and lose him his wicket.

Cricket Australia have said that there’s “no credible evidence,” and without discounting the possibility that something might eventually come of this, the documentary does at the very least seem to us to be an excellent exploration of the way in which humans actively root for meaningful signs once they’ve been primed to expect something specific.

“You wonder whether he’s taking his helmet off deliberately, don’t you?” says Ed at one point. Well, yes, he probably was taking his helmet off deliberately. You don’t tend to take a helmet off accidentally. Helmet removal can of course be a covert sign that a fix is going to take place – or it could just be a bit hot out there.

Nevertheless, spot fixing has happened before now and it probably will again. The suggestion that someone at the ICC might be keeping it quiet seems to imply that the scale of the problem is greater than people think – but then it’s hard to imagine one person operating alone achieving anything at the ICC, whether good or bad.

Maybe they’re all in on it? That level of agreement at the ICC would literally be unprecedented.


Learning, reacting, chopping, changing and Ponting

It may feel like Australia lost the series against Pakistan 4-0, but actually it was only two. No matter how you play, you can’t lose more than two matches when you only play two.

This has allowed Michael Clarke to somewhat disingenuously plead that his captaincy shouldn’t be judged on the basis of two Tests. People will be quick to draw his attention to last year’s 4-0 defeat to India, which is perhaps what he wants as such talk distracts from his batting form.

The truth is that Clarke’s got away with a 2-0 defeat. He can pretend that Australia might have bounced back were they playing a third Test, but history tends to suggest that learning is more than outweighed by the negative effects of reacting whenever Australia start losing.

“We’re learning,” they say. “Look!”

But changing isn’t the same as improving.

The captain’s view

Ricky Ponting’s main redeeming feature as a captain was that he was plain-speaking. He always erred on the side of blunt honesty and had an unusual predilection for answering the questions asked of him.

But there is quite some distance between being open and honest as an international cricket captain and being open and honest as a columnist. The former is like being the least annoying daytime Radio 1 DJ. You’re the least bad of a group that’s pretty much defined by one negative characteristic.

It is therefore no surprise to see that Ponting’s first column for Cricinfo is fairly banal. He still knows those involved, so his criticism is qualified and weak. You have to read between the lines a bit and magnify some of what he’s saying to interpret his true meaning.

When Ponting says that “a lot of what I saw was a bit frenetic, a bit fast,” then maybe – just maybe – he’s talking about Australia’s number three reverse sweeping his way to 37 off 28 balls in a match in which the opposition’s just posted 570-6 with one guy making a double hundred.

Glenn Maxwell at three – but what would have been next?

The selection of Glenn Maxwell to bat at number three might rank as one of the greatest cricketing decisions of all time. In this context, we’re using ‘greatest’ to mean ‘inexplicable and hilarious’.

But all we can think about is what might have happened next.

If this series had run on, who knows where Australia might have ended up. If you’re picking Maxwell at three by the second Test, what do you do when you’ve lost four on the bounce? The team physio, Alex Kontouris, must have harboured serious hopes of opening the bowling if there had been such a match.

Playing a five Test series when all you can do is lose is like being asked to build an elaborate timber framed home when the only tools you’ve got are a spoon and a spatula. It’s a painful, humiliating farce, but every day you have to turn up for work and do your best and then explain your progress to the client afterwards.

If you ever have to go through this, the after-effects are huge. There’s no hiding place. You had ample opportunities to do a good job so if all you managed was abject failure, you have to answer for that. By slinking off after two Tests, the Australian team has minimised the damage.

The moral of the story

Your averages, captain, coaches and players can probably survive incompetence over a relatively short series, so if you’re going to be rubbish against someone, make sure it’s Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand or someone.


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