Glenn Maxwell says it will be a relief to have a passionate Edgbaston on his side when he makes his eagerly-awaited Birmingham Bears debut after some lively past exchanges with the Hollies faithful.
The last time Maxwell played at Edgbaston was in August 2019 when he smashed 79 off 39 balls for Lancashire Lightning in a Vitality Blast defeat to the Bears.
In an interview with the Club from a hotel room in Chennai – he was part of the Aussies ODI squad touring India in March – the 34-year-old recalls the crowd was “pretty relentless” and that previous visits with Australia had been “interesting”.
“It’s a pretty daunting cauldron when you come into it as an opposition player,” said Maxwell, who’ll join up with the Bears squad after his IPL commitments with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
“Coaches tell you to try and shut the crowd down but it’s a hard thing to do especially when lots of fans are dressed up and having a great time. I’ve had to field out in front of the Hollies Stand a few times it’s been an interesting experience. I’m pleased that’ll change this summer now that I’m a Bear.
“It’s a great place to play, the pitches are always nice to bat on. I thought I was set for a 100 in 2019 but ended up being bowled on 79 by Will Rhodes. He’ll probably remind me of that when I meet up with the boys.”
World Cup winner Maxwell – who’s lit-up T20 tournaments around the world with his power hitting and creative shot making – has signed for the Bears’ 2023 Vitality Blast campaign.
He’s the Club’s second overseas signing following the capture of Pakistan pace bowler Hassan Ali. And he said Bears fans can be rightly excited about the upcoming season with the depth of talent in the squad.
“They should be extremely excited by what this group has potentially got on offer for them,” added Maxwell, who will make his third IPL appearance for RCB after being bought at auction for more than £1.3million.
“I’m sure fans will enjoy watching the Bears go about their business this year and I’m just hoping I can contribute and be a part of an exciting season for this team.
“In Sam Hain we’ve got a player in red hot form. It’s been a pleasure to watch him play. In the Big Bash he struck the ball really cleanly against us (Melbourne Stars) at the GABBA and I think his overseas experience will hold him in good stead for this season. He can be a focal point for the team to bat around, no doubt in my mind.
“I’m really looking forward to it. There are some familiar faces in the side, I know Al Davies from Lancs and Will Rhodes from Yorkshire, plus with Moeen at the helm, I think it will be an easy transition to slip into.
“Hopefully I can come over there, entertain the crowd and help the team win. But I’m also at the point in my career when I think I can provide some leadership and expertise from all the experience I have playing around the world and try to help the young guys.”
Maxwell is a legend of the Australian Big Bash League himself having played 100 games for the Melbourne Stars, a milestone he marked in spectacular style in January 2022 by smashing 154 off just 64 balls to set a new BBL record.
He broke his leg in an accident when slipping at a birthday party last November but his rehab has gone well, he’s already back in the national set-up and ready to make an impact in the IPL.
“I’m pretty close to 100 per cent fitness again,” added Maxwell. “I had a positive experience playing in the first ODI in India and came through that fine. Every game and every training session is a step in the right direction. I’ve worked hard with the physios and doctors over the past couple of months and they’re pleased with the progress I’ve made.
“By the time I land in Birmingham I should be right where I want to be. I’m desperate to perform well as there’s a World Cup at the back end of the year and I want to prove I’m worthy of a place in the squad.”
Throughout his career, dating back to his early days with the Victoria state team, Maxwell has been synonymous with the number 32.
However, fellow overseas signing Hassan Ali has got in first to be the Bears 32.
“It’s a good job I’m not superstitious then,” joked Maxwell. “I’ve always been 32. I remember thinking back in the day, ‘I don’t know anyone in world with 32’ so I thought I could make that my own. If I can have a number that’s synonymous with what I do, that’s all you ever really want as a player.
“I think the only time I wasn’t 32 was when I made my Australia debut when I was number 28.
“I’ll have to challenge Hassan Ali for the right to the shirt. Maybe a reverse sweep competition, I’d be pretty confident of winning that.”
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.