Internal demons hitting backwards: how Maxwell dealt with depression but took the IPL turn

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Glenn Maxwell was “bawling” around the room in the presence of his fiancée Vini Raman, who was the first to notice that he was suffering from depression. The sobs had been triggered by his selection for the 2019 World Cup semi-final against England. After that game, in which he didn’t score much and Australia were hammered, Maxwell was sitting in the dressing room, glancing at the other players with the thought that had plagued him for a while.

“I felt like I was 100 percent responsible and looked around the room and thought, ‘I wonder if they think the same.’ I wonder if they are watching me say ‘If only Max, you had made this tournament,’ ”he told Neroli Meadows in his Ordineroli Speaking podcast.

The external question posed by the angry fans was internalized to such a degree that he couldn’t function normally. Months after the World Cup, after more problems on and off the pitch – even when he was on the pitch he ‘would have left with the fairies’ – Maxwell consulted sports psychiatrist Ranjit Menon, an external consultant for Cricket Australia.

Things have changed for the better now as he almost singlehandedly coached the Royal Challengers Bangalore to the Indian Premier League qualifiers and is the main hope if Australia are to lose their below par performance in the World Cups. T20. Menon is naturally enthusiastic but also cautious, as physicians of the mind should be. Although he refuses to go into the details of Maxwell’s case, he offers mixed optimism.

“Maxwell is a mature, tough man. The way he’s bounced back with great performances lately suggests he’s in a good happy space, ”Menon told The Indian Express on Monday. “The point is – and I’m speaking generally and not of him here – success is not the barometer for judging mental health. In most cases, mental issues need to be managed. There are no magic pills to cure them. We’ve seen (tennis player) Naomi Osaka struggle with success, to put it simply. Success is not always a liberating force as we perceive it. Maxwell is doing well and I hope he will continue to shine because he is a very good honest man.

Glenn Maxwell: From being forced to play southpaw in school to being the sultan of reverse blows

Honesty, in this sense, is not only about his relationship with the world, but especially with himself. When the self-deceptions are removed, the inner clouds clear up and the sunlight of well-being can rush in.

“Athletes experience the feeling of being judged negatively and over time it can be a debilitating feeling. Very young, they are brought up like professional athletes. How their underlying personality develops over time is heavily influenced by athletic performance – we call it athletic identity, ”Menon explains. “Part of that identity is wanting to perform at this level consistently. And your internal expectations of yourself are drastically affected. For some, this can have dire consequences like becoming depressed and extremely anxious. Then the external expectations, like coaches and fans who need you to perform, and when you aren’t performing at the level they expect, you feel like you’re letting them down, ”Menon explains.

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In many ways, Maxwell has a boy’s vision of what it’s like to be a drummer. The predetermination in most shots, the child’s confidence that he can perform inverted spins and the like, the urge to hit the ball in unconventional areas – he beats like someone who grew up on platforms -forms of play, and is perhaps the true representative of this generation.

Unsurprisingly, confidence is the key to such a hitting style. What he had overflowed. Simon Helmot, Big Bash and IPL trainer in the past, returns at one point in a canoe 10 years ago. Arriving at 157/6 with less than 10 overs left, Maxwell beat Australia’s fastest domestic half-century (27 balls 61, all fifty came out 19) to help chase 269. His previous record for Victoria Bushrangers was from 33.

Glenn Maxwell has scored two fifties in three games for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League. (Twitter / Melbourne Stars)

“When I congratulated him excitedly, he said, ‘You look surprised, coach. That’s what I do!’ and everyone laughed. It was the breakout game for us and for him, “says Helmot.” At the U-19 level, he had the ability to kick the ball with much greater power than the others. When he came to Victoria Bushrangers he could hit the ball in different places and place himself differently than most in the crease. The confidence was striking.

Helmot’s faith did not waver from that point on. Even last year, when the races didn’t come, the coach was confident. Maxwell has once again revised his technique – he continues to do it as if it were a Playstation game – and has now fully opened his position. The front shoulder and leg were almost turned towards the middle of the wicket, while the bat was oddly left open, sometimes facing the middle. During the last IPL, he tried several times to slide the ball to the side, but it didn’t go as smoothly as he would have liked. Helmot, however, was unfazed.

“He’s a problem solver. About the lack of runs – is it technique or poor shot selection? I have a feeling he didn’t use offside much during IPL (last year) but will use switch-hit and reverse-paddle more. The new technique and the new strategy do not yet match; it will be, I can tell, from now on.

Helmot’s assessment turned out to be correct. The angle of the bat was changed slightly, but the rest of the open position remained and the tracks sank. Reverse paddling and switch hits were also seen frequently, as well as the big swell inside the 2021 IPL. RCB used Maxwell intelligently, giving him the intermediate overs – 7th through 15th – to break free and release. hell.

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The Australian setup also played its part in unraveling Maxwell’s psyche. During this 2019 World Cup, Maxwell talks about some fairly revealing episodes.

He had taken a heavy blow in Mitchell Starc’s nets and had gone to the hospital hoping his bone “was broken”. “We don’t have the impression that it’s broken through and through. I was thinking of things I could do on the way home to break it… I was so mad at myself. I was indirectly angry with other people about it. It didn’t make any sense… I was frustrated with the way (I was playing), I was frustrated with the way I was perceived… this (injury) was my ticket out of disappointment.

On the day he returned from the hospital, Maxwell was thrown into another intense net session, with Justin Langer (head coach) and Ricky Ponting (who was the batting consultant during that World Cup) turning on the heat. “I was taking some pain relievers and JL and Ponting made me bounce shit in a net to see if I was ready to go. And that was my fitness test and I got hit a few times, but I literally have my face blank and I’m like, “yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m doing here. Sure. Anything that makes everyone happy. I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna do it. I’ll just skip the rest of this tournament.

Soon after, Vini Raman realized he was depressed and urged him to seek professional help. “Some athletes may have a pre-existing vulnerability, whether it’s genetic or otherwise. They have had this problem for a long time and when they get into a performing environment, it manifests itself. The second group of people are those who have never had this problem before, but because of this environment and this pressure, they start to develop a new disease, ”Menon explains.

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Rishabh Pant was chirping behind the stumps in the last RCB Championship game. “Jo simple ko daal raha tha, voh daal… inko kaisey pata chalega ?! (Boulez the one they threw at me. How will they understand?) “Pant said Axar Patel in Hindi with a chuckle when Maxwell was new to the fold. And Patel kept pulling all the way to keep Maxwell silent for a while. a few bullets. ”Maxwell’s response came swift and furious.

He turned around, knelt down to smash upside down a delivery from Patel at the backstitch limit. Next ball, he mowed the backhand through the covers. The spinners were off and Maxwell then returned to his open position, knocking through the midwicket towards the seamers. When Ripal Patel threw one outside, he crushed it on an extra blanket. He remained undefeated on 51 as RCB claimed a victory on the last ball. It was his sixth fifty in that IPL and when he failed in the next game – the Eliminator – the RCB also sank.

As the angry social media trolls began to show their class, Maxwell would respond: “Some of the garbage that flows on social media is absolutely disgusting! We are human beings who give the best of ourselves every day. Try to be a decent person maybe instead of spreading abuse… ”

Menon says it’s not for him to advise Maxwell or athletes to stay away from social media. “He reacted the way he thought was the best. To let them know the players’ point of view. He’s a grown-up, a tough man, and he’ll decide the best way to respond. I will say this: The pressures exerted on athletes by social media have increased nowadays. It’s a huge difference from the past; now nameless and faceless crowds can reach you. It adds another dimension to the whole athlete-fan relationship and increases the pressure. “

The T20 World Cup will be fascinating to follow Maxwell. In some ways, around last year when he dazzled, outside expectations were perhaps a little lower. Now that he has shone in the IPL and shown the world the heights that an unfettered version 2.0 of Maxwell can reach, expectations would be back. What would the man who beats like a boy do?


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