By Greg Baum
David Warner made his second run-a-ball century in a row, but this one will pass unremembered into history because in less than one frenetic hour, Glenn Maxwell upstaged him with a 40-ball 100, the fastest by an Australian in one-day international history and the fourth fastest by anyone anywhere.
He also made the second innings of this match academic; the hapless Dutch were never going to make 400. Duly, they were bowled out for 90 and incurred the heaviest defeat by any team in World Cup history. Dutch captain Scott Edwards thinks he might have played against Maxwell once previously. He will never forget the second time.
Glenn Maxwell celebrates his century during the match between Australia and Netherlands.Credit: Getty Images
Upstaged is too tame. Made redundant, maybe? Extinguished from memory? That’s it. In years to come, it will be a trivia question: who made the other century against the Netherlands the day Maxwell turned the Arun Jaitley stadium into a 360-degree shooting gallery.
For as long as Maxwell was at the crease, no bowler or boundary was safe and for that matter, no spectator. Even in the faraway media box, we sometimes flinched.
It’s pointless to try to describe some of the shots he played in orthodox terminology. Collectively, perhaps they could be called post-modern. Individually, at least one surely will be named after Maxwell duly, the way new and ever more acrobatic gymnastic contortions are named for their performers.
This column’s vote is for his backhand sweep slog of a full ball on leg stump from Bas de Leede far over the square leg fence, and yes we mean fence, three metres or more high. He did it on repeat.
David Warner leaps to celebrate scoring a century.Credit: AP
Deconstructing his mirror-image methodology between innings, Maxwell said: “Just getting a read on the bowler, the types of change-ups they’re using, even if they’re banging it into the wicket, I’ve got enough time to adapt … every now and again I get lucky enough for it to go to six.”
But as if to demonstrate that he is not merely a purveyor of party tricks, he also hit a handful of the crispest imaginable straight drives. This was batting in another dimension. It’s worth noting that few batsmen regularly rehearse their new age repertoires in the pinballing confines of the nets. Maxwell does.
Yes, this was the Netherlands, the lowest ranked team at the World Cup. But hitting on this sort of scale would be memorable against anyone at any time. This was something beyond flat-track bullying. If essayed on a Playstation, it would not compute.
In the blink of a disbelieving eye, a century for Maxwell grew from an absurd idea to a chance to a living, fire-breathing certainty. This was the latest anyone has come to the crease to make a century in any list A game.
Mitchell Marsh celebrates the wicket of Netherlands Sybrand Engelbrecht.Credit: AP
He reached it in the 49th over with a pair of sixes, his seventh and eighth, from thigh-high full tosses delivered by de Leede. En route, he relieved two Australians, Michael Lewis and teammate Adam Zampa, of their unwanted possession of the most expensive bowling figures in ODI history. That is now de Leede’s parcel to pass.
As the 100 hit soared into the floodlights and disappeared into the crowd at square leg, Maxwell roared like Novak Djokovic at match point at Wimbledon. This was never going to finish with a dab into the off-side and a sheepish raise of the bat. When he was caught at the longest of ons in the final over, Pat Cummins remained, having made eight of their partnership of 103.
“I’ve been pretty crook all day, so I wasn’t expecting much today,” Maxwell said when done. “It probably cleared my head a bit to just go out there and play the situation when Davey (Warner) and Greeny (Cameron Green) both got out. I had to bat a bit differently and actually probably tapered me down a bit, it made play the situation.” Remind me to be there the day he let’s himself go.
The day had begun in a very different key, with a minute’s silence for the late Bishan Bedi. In India, there surely could be no greater mark of respect than silence.
The second and fifth balls of Australia’s innings went for fours and so did ball Nos 8-11. Everything that flowed from there for the next 35 overs had an inexorable quality.
That’s not to say it was bloody all the way; the Australian batting mostly was too clinical for that. The Dutch fielded well when they got to the ball. But an attack consisting of three medium-pacers and three finger spinners, honest as they were, posed minimal threat.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne made half-centuries at 100-plus strike rates that would be called brisk any other day, but on this one were made to look plodding. The score built like the crowd; plentiful enough, but always with room for more.
The likeliest talking point at that stage were two low catches claimed by Roelof van der Merwefour balls apart. With technology’s help, the first was ruled not out, the second out.
Then Australia’s innings developed an unexpected kink. Warner became strangely marooned, losing strike and momentum. He made his inevitable 100, but at the time of his dismissal had scored 35 of the previous 107 runs.
Two wickets suddenly became six. The last 10 overs were rushing by; 350 looked out of reach. Then Maxwell appeared, and suddenly the 350 milepost lay flat on the ground and so very nearly was the 400 marker too.
The short Dutch innings was a bit of a frolic. Maxwell ran out Vikram Singh with a direct hit; of course he did, he was in the hitting zone. Warner took a catch on the square leg rope that was more of an intercept mark to despatch Sybrand Engelbrecht. Warner’s speed at 37 is extraordinary. In a horrible mix-up while at the crease, he made two full runs even after he was sent back by Smith and beat the throw anyway.
Teja Nidamanuru was caught behind down leg and last man Logan Van Beek was accidentally stumped when Josh Inglis dropped the ball onto the stumps. When it’s not your day, it’s not your day. Without doing much more than roll over his arm, Zampa took 4/8.
Incidentally, this flexing of Australia’s sometimes previously floppy muscle the rest of the teams in this tournament will not have enjoyed.
Conquerors of South Africa earlier in the tournament the Dutch had hoped to make some more headlines at home. They succeeded.
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