RCB's Maxwell takes 'mental and physical' break from IPL 2024

RCB's Glenn Maxwell is is clean bowled during the IPL match between Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on April 6. Photo: AFP/Arun SANKAR.

Bengaluru: Royal Challengers Bengaluru all-rounder Glenn Maxwell has decided to take an indefinite "mental and physical" break from the Indian Premier League, blaming his wretched batting form for the decision.
Maxwell's absence from RCB's match against Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Monday was initially attributed to a finger injury he suffered during the previous match against Mumbai Indians. But he later admitted to dropping himself from the squad.

"It was a pretty easy decision. I went to Faf and the coaches after the last game (vs Mumbai Indians) and said it was probably time we tried someone else (in his place)," Maxwell said in the post-match press meet.

"It's actually a good time 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 solid mental and physical space where I can make an impact," he added.

This is the second time in his career that Maxwell has opted out of competitive cricket in order to gather himself. He had taken a similar break in October 2019, stating that he felt mentally and physically ruined at that time. The 35-year-old made his comeback a couple of months later.

In the ongoing IPL, Maxwell has been quite underwhelming with the bat in the six matches he has played this season, contributing just 32 runs at an average of 5.33 and a strike-rate of 94. Twenty eight of those 32 runs came against Kolkata Knight Riders alone, helped to a great degree by two dropped catches.

"I have been in this situation in the past where you can keep playing and get yourself deeper into a hole. We have had a pretty big deficiency after the power play, which has been my area of strength over the last couple of seasons.

"I felt like I wasn't contributing 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," a candid Maxwell said.

The big-hitting Australian, however, still hoped to return and make an impact in the later stages of the tournament. "The management here has been outstanding. 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," he said.

The sudden dip in his form was surprising, considering the hot run he had in the run-up to the IPL. Maxwell had made 552 runs from 17 T20Is from November onwards, averaging 42 and his strike-rate was an impressive 185.

But the Victorian started the IPL with a first-ball duck against Chennai Super Kings in an away match, and from that point his fortunes plummeted. "T20 cricket is a pretty fickle game. 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, saw a scoring opportunity, but opened the face a little bit too much.

"When you are going well, that goes wide of the (wicketkeeper's) gloves, you get a boundary. You are 4 off 1, and you are away for the tournament," he noted.

Maxwell said luck was not on his side in this tournament. "I probably just haven't got away. In the first few games, I feel I made reasonably good decisions (for shot selection). But I was 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," he said.

Maxwell experienced a similar barren run in IPL 2020 while playing for Punjab Kings. During that season, the Australian scored a mere 108 runs from 11 matches and failed to hit a single six. However, Maxwell did not draw parallels between the two seasons.

"I was bowling really well back then. I was actually playing more as a spinner. We had KL (Rahul) and Mayank (Agarwal) who were the two leading run-scorers at that time. So, there weren't a lot of balls left in the game (for him). I wasn't able to get any match rhythm. So, I said the same thing to the Punjab management that we can have an overseas bowler in my place. But we didn't have an off-spinner, so, I sort of played as an overseas off-spinner who could bat a little bit," he explained.

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