Hampshire have signed a very different Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

THERE will be some nervous bowlers waiting to take on Glenn Maxwell during this season’s T20 Blast, following the Hampshire star’s exploits during the first week of this year’s Indian Premier League.

The Australian will return to The Ageas Bowl as a fully-fledged global superstar this summer, two years after starring for the county as a relative unknown.

When Maxwell played for Hampshire in 2012 he had yet to win the first of his 47 caps for Australia and he has also now made his mark at the IPL.

Bought for $1m by the Mumbai Indians at last year’s auction, he has hit the heights in his first three innings for Kings XI Punjab.

So far in this year’s tournament he has twice scored 95 from 43 balls, either side of a 45-ball 89.

His three blitzkriegs featured 28 fours and 17 sixes, nine of which came in his last outing against the Hyderabad Sunrisers.

Maxwell is the first IPL batsman to score three successive 80-plus scores in the competition’s seven- year history and he was hoping to continue his wrecking spree against the Kolkata Knight Riders today.

His runs so far have come against some decent attacks.

The Chennai Super Kings were his first victims, despite including a quartet of Indian international bowlers in Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja.

Australian international James Faulkner was in the Rajasthan Royals attack, against which Maxwell blasted a 45-ball 89.

And his second 43-ball 95, in Sharjah on Tuesday, came against a Hyderabad Sunrisers team boasting South African superstar Dale Steyn, Irfan Pathan, Amit Mishra and a third Indian international, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took 3-19 in amongst the carnage.

It is easy to forget that Maxwell had not had a big part to play in the IPL prior to last week.

Before his Kings XI Punjab debut eight days ago, Maxwell had a modest record of 42 runs at an average of 14 from five appearances, with a highest score of 23.

He played a couple of games for the Delhi Daredevils before first arriving at Hampshire and, despite being bought for an IPL record fee last year, he only played three games for the Mumbai Indians last year.

Now he has batted himself into the annals of IPL cricket.

His ability soon became apparent during a similar purple patch at Hampshire in 2012, when he struck an unbeaten 66 from 32 balls against Kent at Canterbury and 60 not out from just 24 against Essex at Chelmsford.

Those innings fired Hampshire into the knock-out stages of a tournament they went on to win, having lost their opening two group games.

It is hoped Maxwell has a similar effect this year.

He will certainly return a better player than the one who missed a slog in his last domestic T20 appearance for Hampshire – the 2012 quarter-final against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge that Neil McKenzie rescued with his best performance for the county.

By all accounts, his improvisation and accomplished switch-hitting has been the most impressive feature of his IPL heroics, together with a cricket brain that has developed considerably in the last two years.

Maxwell will have benefited hugely from his experience in all three forms of the game at international level.

He had not represented his country in any format when he last played for Hampshire, but since then has played two Tests, 21 T20 internationals and 24 one-day internationals.

Part of the agreement with Cricket Australia is that he will also play for Hampshire in all forms, so as to aid his development, particularly in first-class cricket.

He will play alongside Kyle Abbott as one of the two permitted overseas players in the T20 Blast but when the South African is unavailable, he will also play in the 50-over competition and in the LV County Championship.

But the T20 Blast will be his main stage.

Should Maxwell fire Kings XI all the way to the June 1 final, as looks increasingly likely, he will miss the first four of Hampshire’s 14 group games and play the first game of his second spell against Kent at The Ageas Bowl on Thursday, June 5.

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