By: Chinmay Vaidya
In my previous IPL 2021 preview post about high-priced bowlers, I promised there would be analysis on Glenn Maxwell. Even though Maxwell bowled 21 overs in IPL 2020, he did not get included among the all-rounders on the bowling analysis despite going for 14.25 crores in the most recent auction. Maxwell is no stranger to the auction; he was a bidding target in the 2018 and 2020 auctions, going for 9.0 and 10.75 crores respectively. Maxwell's perceived value has increased 19.4 percent from 2018 to 2020 and 32.6% from 2020 to 2021. Has his production matched these increases?
The simple answer is no, but Maxwell is still able to create enough value to go for big bucks in the auction. He did it on the international circuit after missing IPL 2019 and returned to form ahead of the 2021 auction. Will Royal Challengers be able to translate that international form into IPL success?
Maxwell performed extremely well in IPL 2017, tallying 310 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 173.2. That performance landed him 9 crores in the 2018 auction, but Maxwell's form dipped. He only managed 169 runs in the 2018 campaign and his strike rate fell to 140.8. So how did he gain 1.75 crores in the 2020 auction despite scoring less runs at a slower rate?
In 18 T20 international matches between IPL 2018 and IPL 2020, Maxwell was able to log 504 runs at a strike rate of 149.1. He managed a century and four 50s during that time. It would be easy for any franchise, in this case Punjab, to think Maxwell's 2018 IPL campaign was an anomaly. Add in his marketing value and fan appeal and Punjab have a reasonable case to blow 10.75 crores on him. Then IPL 2020 happened.
Maxwell was disastrous in his return to the league with Punjab. He scored 108 runs at a strike rate of 101.9 with his highest individual score being 32. For comparison, Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Sam Curran all outscored Maxwell. All had higher strike rates and only Archer failed to score higher than 32 in a single innings. Not exactly worth 10.75 crores.
But despite all that, Maxwell somehow found 14.25 crores in the 2021 auction. So what the hell happened between the end of IPL 2020 and the 2021 auction?
Maxwell played eight T20 internationals during that span, a somewhat high amount due to COVID restrictions. He was able to score 171 runs at a strike rate of 164.4, even hitting two half-centuries. So maybe RCB thought IPL 2020 was the anomaly.
In reality, Maxwell's 310-run season seems to be the outlier. His 552-run campaign from 2014 isn't going to come back any time soon. Take away those two monster seasons (and his first two IPLs where he played a combined five matches) and Maxwell's average comes to 150.25 runs per season. His strike rate in those four seasons averages out to 130.1, which is just below the desired number for a player in his role.
Virat Kohli's squad seems ready to contend after the emergence of Devdutt Padikkal and development from Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj. They saw the opportunity to add a quality finishing batsman to pair with AB de Villiers in Maxwell and were willing to pay top dollar, mostly because they could. RCB don't need 2014 Maxwell, but they definitely need 2017 Maxwell to show up. This is a chance for the big-spending franchise and the big-money player to prove the numbers wrong. Even if the numbers win, don't expect Maxwell's future value to dip. There will always be another franchise thinking he can find form.