AFTER 73 runs in eight innings in all cricket it is fair to say that Glenn Maxwell, who goes by the nickname “The Big Show”, had been more of a no-show since joining Yorkshire.
The Australian had been more successful with his occasional off-spin than he had with the bat, struggling to recapture the stunning form he showed at the recent World Cup.
But Maxwell certainly showed up at Headingley last night, scoring more runs in one innings than he had in his previous outings for Yorkshire combined.
His unbeaten 92, made from 48 balls with eight fours and five sixes, helped the hosts to 209-4 – their fifth-highest T20 total – before Notts managed 169-6 in reply.
Maxwell’s innings – the joint sixth-highest for Yorkshire in T20, and only three short of his career-best in the format – pretty much defied categorisation.
The 26-year-old not so much belts the ball with brute force like a Chris Gayle or a David Warner but he scoops it, reverse-hits it, shovels it and improvises in a manner the like of which the game has rarely, if ever, seen.
If the bowler is the bull, then Maxwell is the matador, a man who toys with his prey in a fashion designed to fray the nerves as well as shred the bowling figures.
How do you set a field to someone who can change hands from right to left in an instant and reverse-hit a ball outside leg-stump for six with apparently no more than a flick of his tungsten wrists?
While Maxwell was busy not so much rewriting the MCC coaching manual as setting fire to it and dancing on the embers, there was another standout contributor to the Yorkshire innings.
Andrew Hodd, with whom Maxwell added 101 for the third-wicket from just 58 balls, would not have played but for an injury in practice yesterday to England’s Jos Buttler, which led to Yorkshire’s first-choice wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow being called up as cover for today’s one-day international against New Zealand in Chester-le-Street.
Hodd, who had gone no higher than 26 in his previous 56 T20 games, left his old career-best for dead en route to 70 from 39 deliveries with six fours and five sixes.
It was a superlative display, and one could pay Hodd no finer compliment than to say that there were times when you presumed it must have been Maxwell on strike as the ball sailed to - and often over - the peppered boundaries.
Before a crowd of 8,527, who watched in unseasonably cold weather once again, Maxwell and Hodd ignited Yorkshire’s innings following the early loss of Aaron Finch – who chopped on to Jake Ball – and later that of captain Andrew Gale, who played well for 20 before falling victim to a very well-judged catch by Samit Patel at deep mid-wicket off Luke Fletcher.
Hodd raced to fifty from just 27 balls – Maxwell needed 33 deliveries to reach the landmark – and the duo’s strokeplay was a delight.
Their partnership was finally broken with the first ball of the 16th over, Hodd driving Patel to James Taylor at cover.
Gary Ballance was the other wicket to fall, bowled by Harry Gurney in the final over, as Maxwell dominated the closing stages.
Yorkshire, who went into this match on the back of three successive T20 defeats that had cast doubt on their capacity to reach the knockout stages, responded superbly and reduced Notts to 10-3 inside three overs.
Maxwell had the former Yorkshire batsman Michael Lumb caught-and-bowled in the opening over, Tim Bresnan had Riki Wessels caught behind, and Matthew Fisher had Brendan Taylor caught behind to leave the visitors reeling.
James Taylor stroked a breezy 32 before lofting James Middlebrook to Maxwell at deep mid-wicket, and Notts fell to 82-5 in the 12th over when Middlebrook held a stinging return from Dan Christian, the Australian making his Notts debut.
The visitors really needed Christian, a team-mate of Maxwell’s at Victoria, to produce something of comparable savagery.
Instead, only one man, Patel, even remotely threatened to take his team home.
Patel’s unbeaten 90, accrued from 59 balls with five fours and five sixes, was a defiant display, but this was a night that belonged to Maxwell.
He claimed his second wicket when he had Steven Mullaney caught at long-on by Ballance, finishing with 2-31 from his four overs.
“The Big Show” had finally put on a show and Yorkshire, who return to T20 action tomorrow against Warwickshire at Edgbaston (2.30pm start), had produced a polished performance.
With Maxwell in the house and playing like this, another good result in the Midlands would put them firmly on course to reach the last eight.
In a curtain-raiser to last night’s game, Yorkshire women beat their Notts counterparts by 75 runs at Headingley yesterday afternoon.
Katherine Brunt top-scored with 82 from 49 balls as Yorkshire totalled an impressive 165-6 from their 20 overs.
Notts made 90-8 in reply, Amy Gauvrit top-scoring with 23 and Beatrice Firth, Katie Thompson, Danielle Hazell and Katie Levick each capturing two wickets.