‘You don’t really expect those things’: Crocked Maxwell blown away by miracle dig

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In the end, even the scoreboard was cheering for Glenn Maxwell, posting ‘Marvellous Maxwell’ as he charged towards a double century and a seemingly impossible Australian victory over Afghanistan to cement a semi-final place at the Cricket World Cup.

A crowd favourite in India after years of spectacular IPL performances, the wave of noise around Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium carried Maxwell on the crest of a wave, even as his body gave out and collapsed in pain with multiple cramps.

“It probably hasn’t really sunk in just yet,” Maxwell said with a pause for reflection as he propped himself up at the entrance to Australia’s change rooms. “I haven’t really got too many words at the moment. It’s nice to be able to book our spot in the semi.”

Maxwell must surely have played the greatest one-day innings of all time. It was just the third World Cup double century and the first in a run chase, which appeared impossible for much of the night. His 201 not out came from just 128 balls with 10 sixes and 21 fours. The unbroken partnership with Pat Cummins was 202. Cummins made just 12 after arriving at the crease with Australia 7/91 chasing 292 for victory.

This was ‘Boys Own’ Annual stuff, where the wildest dreams of wide-eyed kids who worship their heroes make the impossible possible. Except Maxwell did it. His 10 six brought up a double century, gave Australia victory, and secured a place in the semi-finals, against South Africa next week.

“It was a lot of fun out there with Pat,” Maxwell said with a tired smile. “We were keeping each other pretty calm with jokes most of the time. And we sort of laughed. When he first came out, he goes, ‘don’t worry they’re four overs down, they’re going to have an extra fielder in for the last four overs’.

Glenn Maxwell celebrates hitting a six to bring up victory, a double century and a place in the semi-finals.Credit: Gettry

“We just tried to keep the mood nice and light. Obviously, it wasn’t an ideal situation, but we just tried to relax each other as much as we could. You don’t really expect those things to happen and you need a bit of luck along the way, and we certainly got it. We played and missed a bunch of times and had a couple of chances, but yer, it’s certainly a pretty special night.”

It appeared Maxwell’s night was over long before it became special when he collapsed on 147 after struggling to run a single, with Australia still needing 55 from 58 balls. He later laughed his way through the description of that difficult moment.

“I was thinking ‘well that’s the end of our running’, he recalled. “It was a strange one because I was cramping in one of my toes, which was going up the front of my shin. And then as I set off to try and get down the other I cramped in that calf as well.

“So I was cramping both sides of my lower leg. And as I went ‘oh no, I’m cramping’. I cramped in my left hamstring at the same time. So I was like, I’ve got both legs. And then I had a back spasm when I hit the ground. So I was just like full body in pain.

Glenn Maxwell is treated by Australian physiotherapist Ben Jones and 12th man Sean Abbott after collapsing with cramp.Credit: Getty

“But once I calmed my breathing down, and I had the physio out there, he sort of talked me through it, what it was going to be like. I had one person pushing my foot, one person lifting my leg. It was strange, I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had full body cramps like that.

“I felt it coming on a few hours before that. I was just hoping that I could get through. And once we stayed at the same end for a couple overs (not running), I felt like I was starting to get a little bit of movement back. But that actually probably made the whole job a little bit more simple. I wasn’t overthinking the situation. I just knew if I got a ball that I could hit I’d try and hit it.”

The end of the match was remarkable. With Australia needing 21 from 24 balls at the end of the 46th over spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman arrived at the bowling crease. With his stand-and-deliver approach, Maxwell attempted to put the first ball out of the ground but edged it into his pad.

The next ball disappeared into the night sky and finished well beyond the mid-wicket boundary. The third ball went the same way, the next was slapped through cover to the boundary, with the final ball of the match clearing deep mid-wicket and disappearing into history.

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