When the 2023 World Cup began in India, Australia were considered to be one of the favaourites to win the title. But those hopes crashed away right away as they began their campaign with a six-wicket defeat against India, followed by a 134-run thrashing at the hands of South Africa. Looking out of confidence, it seemed like their ill-fated run would continue, but Pat Cummins and Co. staged a sudden turnaround in their third fixture, proving that critics were too early to judge them. In their third match, the Aussies hammered Netherlands by 309 runs and then edged past New Zealand in a five-run win. In their seventh match, they defeated battered defending champions England by 33 runs.
It was in their eighth fixture, that they really showed their calibre against Afghanistan. Chasing a target of 292 runs, the Aussies had a massive top-order collapse as the Afghans removed David Warner (18), Travis Head (0), Mitchell Marsh (24), Marnus Labuschagne (14), Josh Inglis (0). With the departure of Inglis, Australia were reeling at 49/4 in 8.2 overs. With Afghanistan looking like they were cruising to an easy win, Glenn Maxwell had other plans and came to his side’s rescue. The all-rounder hammered 201 runs off 128 balls, packed with 21 fours and 10 sixes, as he destroyed the Afghan bowling department with ease in a three-wicket victory.
Initially, Afghanistan posted 291/5 in 50 overs, courtesy of an unbeaten ton from Ibrahim Zadran (129). Meanwhile, Josh Hazlewood bagged two wickets for Australia. After the match, the spotlight fell on Maxwell, who battled multiple body cramps and wanted to retire during the match, and didn’t receive any complaint from Cummins. But team physiotherapist Nick Jones came to Maxwell’s rescue, and he simply told him to keep on standing, minimise his running and keep attempting his shots.
Speaking after the match to cricket.com.au, Jones said, “From there it was obvious we were fighting a losing battle. 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.”
He told Maxwell, “If we can keep you as upright as possible, you’re going to be able to keep going from now.”
Jones was also summoned when Australia were still 55 runs away from the target. “Then he went down like he was shot, lying down like a dead man on the floor”, he said.
“I got out there and it was his right calf, his left hammy 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 he said, ‘I’m done here. I can’t keep going. I need to come off and retire.'”
“Patty was like, ‘go off, get some treatment and you can always come back later’.”
“I got out there and it was his right calf, his left hammy 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 he said, ‘I’m done here. I can’t keep going. I need to come off and retire.’
“Patty was like, ‘go off, get some treatment and you can always come back later’.
“That is reasonable in some situations. But in that one, from my end, if you take someone off in that situation when their system is already depleted, and you sit them down and cool them down – you’re not getting them back up.
“Their body shuts down. They often go into full body cramps and you’re often not able to get any level of function out of them.”
Maxwell and Australia decided to go with Jones’ advice, who gave some valuable advice to the all-rounder. “He was struggling big time but I said to Glenn initially, ‘look, I think your best bet is to get you up off the ground. ‘You’re lying down, other things are going to cramp, we need you up on your feet, we need to stretch the key muscle groups that are going’. ’But if you stay on your feet and minimise your running, I think you can stay out here. I think that’s your best bet’. I explained that to Patty … we need to keep him out there and keep him going.”
“The way it played out from there was absolutely amazing and well beyond anything I expected he could do. I think we made the right call in terms of keeping him out there,” he further added.
The win saw Australia cement their position in third place with 12 points and also confirm their semi-final qualification. They face Bangladesh in their final league stage fixture on Saturday, and could rise a spot to second, depending on South Africa’s result.