ICC World Cup: What kept Maxwell going through spasms and cramps en route to 201?

Australian Glenn Maxwell's match-winning innings against Afghanistan is being rated as the best ODI innings ever. But how did his body handle it? Our expert explains

Glenn Maxwell collapses as umpire Alex Wharf tries to offer a helping hand during the World Cup 2023 Australia-Afghanistan match in Mumbai on 7 November (photo: Getty Images)
Glenn Maxwell collapses as umpire Alex Wharf tries to offer a helping hand during the World Cup 2023 Australia-Afghanistan match in Mumbai on 7 November (photo: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It will be more than 48 hours soon, but the sense of shock and awe over Glenn Maxwell’s epic 201 not out at the Wankhede on the night of Tuesday, 7 November, is refusing to fade. The match-winning innings is being rated as the best ever ODI innings ever — which the Indian fan is also agreeing to, grudgingly, despite Kapil Dev’s iconic 175 not out at Edgbaston, 1983. 

The question doing the rounds is, what kept Maxwell going through the violent spasms and cramps as early as the 30th over of the innings, as he was approaching his century? Answer, the tactical nous of a certain Nick Jones, the experienced Australian physio, who attended to a suffering ‘Maxi’ repeatedly through that heroic effort. 

The green-shirted Jones, who has been with the men’s team for more than two years, had treated Maxwell already on three occasions, but the crunch moment came in the 41st over, when the batter collapsed in a heap. By then, Maxwell and captain Pat Cummins, who had come together with the Aussies at 91 for seven chasing 292, had defied all odds to get their side to within 55 runs of the target. 

"Then he went down like he was shot, lying down like a dead man on the floor,’’ the Perth-based Jones told cricket.com.au on Wednesday. ‘’I got out there and it was his right calf, his left hammy (hamstring) and a few other areas that were all cramping at the same time." 

‘’While we were giving him a bit of a stretch-out, it was in that moment that he said, ‘I’m done here. I can’t keep going. I need to come off and retire',’’ Jones revealed. 

It was at this juncture that Cummins advised him to go back to the dressing room and come back after some treatment, while no. 8 Adam Zampa prepared to walk out to the middle. This was when Jones took a crucial call to coax Maxwell to just stand there and minimise running, which experts feel was a masterstroke. 

Speaking to National Herald, Chinmoy Roy, a veteran, BCCI-accredited strength and conditioning coach, explained: ‘’The obvious reason why Jones wanted Maxwell to continue was that as long as the muscles remained warmed up and active, it would be easier for him to just stand there and deliver. Had Maxwell retired to the airconditioned change room, the cramps could have been treated but the muscles would have got stiff and fatigue would have set in. The job would have become doubly difficult, he would have had to start from scratch.’’   

The severe attack of cramps, coming as it did after a concussion as a result of an accidental fall from the golf cart which made him miss the England game, ought not to have contributed to Maxwell's agony in Mumbai. ‘’It was a case of the body losing too much salt (sodium) as a result of heavy sweating. But these days, professional cricketers keep taking tablets and fluids to offset the loss of sodium,’’ explained Roy, a former physio with the National Cricket Academy, one of whose recent assignments was as fitness coach of the Mississauga Panthers in the Canada GT20 League.  

Australia’s medical staff, including team doctor Leigh Golding and strength and conditioning coach Ross Herridge, had apparently recognised the warning signs even before Maxwell went to the crease. The allrounder, who bowled 10 overs in 34-degree temperature and over 80 per cent humidity, came off the ground during the Afghanistan innings in the stifling afternoon conditions to cool himself down.

‘’From there, it was obvious we were fighting a losing battle,’’ Jones said in the interview. ‘’That’s not unusual — we see this a lot with lots of different players — but the more running you do, you’re bringing (cramps) on more regularly and more quickly. 

‘’I was going out pretty regularly and I was just trying to keep him calm, trying to down-regulate everything, manage his heart rate and be as assuring as possible. (Jones said to Maxwell) 'We’ve seen this before; we know what this looks like, I think you’re going to be able to do this. If we can keep you as upright as possible, you’re going to be able to keep going from now'.’’ 

So if Maxwell and Cummins were the two heroes on that magical night, Jones was certainly the unsung third!  

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