Maxwell takes a break to refresh after asking to be rested by RCB

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Glenn Maxwell has elected to take a break from the IPL to refresh himself physically and mentally after requesting Royal Challengers Bengaluru management pick someone else in his place for the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Maxwell has been struggling for runs in IPL 2024. Before Monday’s game, he had scored only 32 runs in six innings at an average of 5.33. There were speculations that he might have sat out because of a thumb injury but that was not the case.

“For me, personally, it was a pretty easy decision,” Maxwell said after RCB’s sixth defeat in seven matches. “I went to Faf [du Plessis] and the coaches after the last game and said I felt it was probably time we tried someone else. I have been in this situation in the past where you can keep playing and get yourself deeper into a hole. I think now is actually a good time for me to give myself a bit of a mental and physical break, get my body right. If I’m required to get in during the tournament, I can hopefully get back into a really solid mental and physical space where I can still have an impact.

“We have had a pretty big deficiency straight after the powerplay, which has been my area of strength over the last couple of seasons. I felt like I wasn’t contributing in a positive way with the bat, and with the results and the position we find ourselves on the table, I think it’s a good time to give someone else an opportunity to show their wares, and hopefully, someone can make that spot their own.”

Coming into IPL 2024, Maxwell was in red-hot form. In 17 T20s since the start of November, he had 552 runs at an average of 42.46 and a strike rate of 185.85. During this period, he scored two hundreds as well.

But he started the IPL with a first-ball duck against Chennai Super Kings. Since then, he has had two more ducks and has lasted more than five balls only once – against Kolkata Knight Riders, when he made a 19-ball 28 with the help of two dropped catches.

“T20 cricket can be like that sometimes – it’s a pretty fickle game,” he said. “Even if you look at the first game, I ran one off the middle of the bat to the keeper. I picked up the length really well, saw a scoring opportunity, but opened the face a little bit too much. When you are going well, that goes wide of the gloves, you get a boundary, you are 4 off 1, and you are away for the tournament.

“I probably just haven’t got away – it’s as simple as that. In the first few games, I feel I made reasonably good decisions, but I was still finding ways to get out. It can happen in T20 cricket and when it snowballs like that, you can go searching and try too hard and forget the basics of the game.”

The SRH game, though, turned out to be a high-scoring one. Batting first, SRH posted 287 for 3, the second-highest total in T20 cricket. RCB replied with 262 for 7, making it 549 for the match, the most for a T20.

Maxwell was asked if, in hindsight, he wished he had played one more game. “I did notice during the powerplay that the pitch was not as slow and two-paced as it has been in the first few games,” he said with a smile. “And I realised it was probably a bad game to miss; it would have been nice to be out there batting.

“But as I said, I wanted to give myself not just the physical break but also the mental break to give myself the right to play professional cricket. I take a lot of pride in my performance, and I put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get my body right for every game. And it has been a pretty tough struggle, given my body is on the wrong side of 30. I think that physical and mental toll probably just wore me down a little bit.”

Maxwell had a similar IPL season in 2020 as well. Playing for Kings XI Punjab then, he managed only 108 runs in 11 innings, at an average of 15.42 and a strike rate of 101.88. He did not hit a single six that year.

“That was probably a different scenario,” Maxwell said. “Back then the thing that was hurting me was I was bowling really well. So I was actually playing more as a spinner who was used at the back end [with the bat]. We had KL [Rahul] and Mayank [Agarwal] who were the two leading run-scorers in the competition at that time, so there wasn’t a lot of balls left in the game. So I wasn’t able to get any match rhythm. And when I was, it was only for a few balls here and there.

“So I said the same thing to the Kings XI management back at the time, that we can have an overseas bowler in my place. But we didn’t have an offspinner as well. So I sort of played as an overseas offspinner who could bat a little bit.

“The management here has been outstanding. We’ve been working together on taking a fair bit of ownership and the off-field leadership staff is trying to help out as much as they can. Unfortunately, runs just haven’t come the way they should have when you are in really good form. I don’t think I’ve had a better six months in cricket leading into this tournament. So it’s frustrating when it ends up like this. But if I can get my body and my mind right, there’s no reason I can’t finish the tournament well if I do get another opportunity.”

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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