One of the reasons why Glenn Maxwell's hardly-believable double-century against Afghanistan in Mumbai is being billed as the greatest ODI knock of all time is because of how he was suffering from back spasms and severe cramps in the lower half of his body, and he still managed to hit a total of 21 fours and 10 sixes to lead Australia to victory, mainly by using his arms and upper-body strength.
Maxwell attributed that ability to a pre-match batting drill he used to practice around eight-nine years ago in the BBL, to hit some big boundaries.
"One of the things I used to work on before every BBL game - going back about eight or nine years - was foot drills where the first 12 balls I'd face I'd stay dead still but try and hit them as far as I could," he told the Club Prairie Podcast. "Whatever the length, I basically had to hold my top body for as long as I could to get the right trajectory to feel like I hit a six. Working on that upper-body movement without using your legs is actually a good way of finding out where your ideal heave point is. Going back to that [innings against Afghanistan], I obviously had to tinker a little bit with actual bowlers not just bowling half-volleys outside off stump but bowling different areas. Jut relying on stuff I had worked on in early years and try to adapt as quickly as I could."
When asked what helped him prepare for such unorthodox shots, Maxwell said: "I think it has a lot to do with the positions I get myself in on a golf course where I'm stuck behind a tree and I've to throw my wrists around or flick it around. It's little things like that. I feel like it allows you to be inventive and tests the boundaries."
Maxwell also revealed on the podcast that the worst cramps in his body were in his calf muscle, and that at one point the middle toe on his right foot "starting to bend back" and combined with the back spasms, his "body was starting to shut down".
When he fell to the ground at one point and lay flat because of cramps just after completing a single, he was attended to by the team physio who said that going off the field would be worse because Maxwell's body would cool down and coming back down the long staircase from the dressing room at the Wankhede Stadium would become very tough. The physio then advised Maxwell to slow things down since the batter also "couldn't control my breathing," and told him to hydrate himself more and bat on.
Not only against Afghanistan, but during his record-breaking 40-ball century against Netherlands, and further back in the past in white-ball cricket, one of Maxwell's trademark ability is to find the gaps in all corners of the ground, irrespective of the line and length of the ball, and the bowlers.
"Once I get in, I feel like I can set myself early enough in my mind and have a good idea of where I'm trying to hit it," Maxwell explained. "I feel like my hands can get me out of trouble if the ball is not quite in that areas and do I give myself a few options for different lengths."