It took him 45 matches, 43 innings and two and a half years but Australia’s Glenn Maxwell finally got a one-day international century on Sunday – and it was quite a relief.
The 26-year-old had come close before with three scores in the 90s, most recently with a 95 in the Tri-Series final against England just before the World Cup. In the last match, against Afghanistan, he was not so far off either, notching up 88 as Australia romped to victory on the back of a World Cup record tally.
He finally passed the milestone with two runs from the 51st ball he faced against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground, helping his country to a 64-run victory that fired them into the quarter-finals.
“It was a massive weight [off my shoulders],” Maxwell said. “It was a lot of fun and it was nice having a good wicket to play on and the top order set it up absolutely beautifully for us. It was basically the blueprint for what we should model our one-day game on.”
His 53-ball 102 was not just a brilliant innings but an important one, forming the large part of the 160-run, 13.4-over partnership with Shane Watson that was responsible for Australia’s victory.
“Having Watto there was special,” Maxwell added. “He’s been there for me over the last couple of tough weeks off the field, he’s been there with me through thick and thin, and I shared a little special moment with him out there. Hopefully it’s going to open the floodgates a little bit and I can stop getting out in the 90s.”
Maxwell did not disclose what his off-field problems were but he has certainly had his share of critics for his flamboyant batting, including former Test skipper Kim Hughes, who branded his Test performance against Pakistan last year “diabolical”.
Although he ended on the losing side, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara had some cause for celebration after joining Sachin Tendulkar in an exclusive club, only the second batsman to pass 14,000 runs in ODIs. The 37-year-old, who was unbeaten on 105 and 117 in the wins over Bangladesh and England, was finally caught in the deep for 104 off 107 balls.
“He is in the form of his life. Three hundreds in three games is absolutely amazing,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said. “He seems to be getting better with age.”
Sangakkara now has 14,065 ODI runs, a total second only to Tendulkar’s 18,426, and is, along with Mahela Jayawardene, set to retire from the one-day format after this World Cup. Mathews added Sri Lanka will “miss them badly”.