Glenn Maxwell was often credited as a pinch-hitter who only plays at fifht gear but his name surely wasn't synonymous with consistency.
However, all that has changed since he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore where the batter has added range of shots to his game while switching gears of his batting as per team's requirement. The turning point of the season was his blistering knock against Mumbai Indians on September 26when he slammed 56 off 37 deliveries, playing a key role in steering the side to a competitive total after considerable run-rate fluctuations for a large part of RCB’s innings.
After aiding the Royal Challengers to 165/6, Maxwell also took two wickets as Virat Kohli’s side secured its first win in the UAE leg of the 2021 Indian Premier League, beating MI by 54 runs.
The 56-run innings also saw Maxwell bringing back the incredible ‘switch-hit’, a shot he has mastered over the years and plays particularly well in the shortest format of the game. The Australian all-rounder played the shot on three different occasions against Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Adam Milne. While two resulted in sixes, one brought a four.
While the switch-hit is largely identified with Maxwell’s prowess, its history remains unclear. Many say that former Indian cricketer Kris Srikanth first attempted the adventurous hit in 1987, while some believe Jonty Rhodes had played the stroke in 2002. It is certain that Kevin Pietersen hit the switch-hit for the first time in a Test match in 2006, garnering instant popularity for the shot. It became so popular Pietersen was roped in for a pre-World Cup advertisement in 2011, where the English batsman could be seen learning the switch-hit using watermelons!
Maxwell – The Switch-Hit Perfectionist
Switch-hit is a shot in which the batter switches their side (a right-handed batter turning to left and vice-versa), changes stance and grip before the ball is bowled, primarily to flick the delivery for a boundary. A particularly difficult shot to play, the switch-hit is mastered by Glenn Maxwell, who has produced results with the shot with stunning consistency over the last few years.
As it remains a complex shot, very few batsmen in the world attempt it. Even lesser do it as well as Maxwell; his teammate David Warner has succeeded with the shot a fair few times in his career.
A large part of the stroke-playing boils down to a batsman’s natural ability. Timing aside, an efficient flick-of-the-wrist action to generate power remains key to a successful switch-hit. The Aussie all-rounder almost always keeps himself in line of the ball while attempting the shot, which keeps the ‘risk vs reward’ ratio to a minimum.
Against Mumbai Indians, Maxwell scored 28 of his 56 runs with either switch-hits or reverse shots. According to an ESPNCricinfo dataset, Maxwell attempted three attacking shots off the 13 deliveries he faced against spinners – all switch hits. Of these, two resulted in sixes.
"Yeah it is something I suppose I have worked on a lot over the years," Maxwell told Star Sports after the game.
"And it has become a really good strength for me. I suppose with that short side, I was trying to target that as much as I can. The wicket being a touch on the slower side, I felt I could wait for it, hopefully get under it and cash in with the wind going that way as well."
The shot, however, has had its fair share of controversy. Last year, former Australian captain Ian Chappell had called for a ban on the switch-hit, calling it unfair.
“How can one side of the game, i.e. the bowlers, they have to tell the umpire how they’re going to bowl. And yet the batsman, he lines up as a right-hander – I’m the fielding captain, I place the field for the right-hander – and before the ball’s been delivered, the batsman becomes a left-hander,” Ian Chappell had said.
“If he’s good enough to do it by excellent footwork or whatever other means he can devise, I don’t have a problem with it. But when it’s blatantly unfair, it annoys the hell out of me.”
A couple of days after Chappell’s comments, Maxwell hit Kuldeep Yadav for a switch-hit six. He further said that it is within the rules of the game. “It is within the laws of the game. Batting has evolved in such a way, that it has got better and better over the years, which is why we see these massive scores are getting chased down and the scores are going up,” Maxwell said, defending the shot.