Claiming the top spot in Wisden’s men’s ODI innings of 2023 is Glenn Maxwell‘s (who else?) scarcely believable double-century against Afghanistan. From a position of virtually no hope, it sealed Australia’s semi-final spot.

Wisden’s men’s ODI innings of 2023, No.1: Glenn Maxwell – 201* (128)

Australia v Afghanistan
Cricket World Cup 2023
Wankhede Stadium, November 7

This year’s top five was actually a contest between four innings. No one could have budged Glenn Maxwell, just like that night in Mumbai.

In very clear terms, Maxwell was told by the physio that retiring hurt and coming back wasn’t really an option. He lay flat on the ground, ravaged by a cramping back that had undone his hamstring. He couldn’t possibly go up and walk back down the Wankhede stairs in that state. 

He really had no choice but to produce the greatest men’s ODI innings ever. 

By then, he was already on 147*, having hacked the Afghanistan attack into shreds. The padded up No.9 Adam Zampa, ready to replace him, was sent back from the edge of the boundary. 

Maxwell had started it. Maxwell was completing it.

When he entered the chase, Australia were 49-4, miles away from 292, a number that could carry them to the semi-final. Ten overs later, it was 91-7. All the odds, predictors and sane minds had only one resounding favourite. Maxwell’s cheeky little manoeuvres weren’t setting off any alarms yet.

Even if you’ve seen very little of Maxwell, you’d know how stupid it would be to write him off.

[caption id=”attachment_599382″ align=”alignnone” width=”1200″]Glenn Maxwell struggled through spasms and a hamstring injury during his 201* Glenn Maxwell receives medical attention during the Australia and Afghanistan match at Wankhede Stadium[/caption]

Three wickets left. More than 200 to get. It just didn’t make sense, right? Right?

Hindsight is convenient, but if Mujeeb Ur Rahman had not shelled Maxwell, then on 33, at short fine leg, one wonders where the World Cup would have actually gone. From that point on, he batted with the audacity of a man unbothered, the scruffy stubble, gum-chewing face doused in sweat but bearing little expression.

It was only when the back spasms appeared did Maxwell really looked pregnable. It made him grimace, lose control of his movement, and turned him into a stiff figurine, sealed from the waist down by the tension of its own frame. But the mind can take you places where the body can’t.

Maxwell, the bloody competitive beast that he is, not only raised the ceiling of ballsiness, but also shredded coaching manuals overnight, killing the concept of feet movement, known to man as essential to ‘correct’ batting. It was all upper limbs and levers, short-arm jabs and sweeps, pulls and cuts and even reverse sweeps, all effected with the lower half rooted to the ground. 

The waist swivelled. The forearm strength, bat swing and hand-eye unity did the rest. Against spinners – and Afghanistan has three of the best – he managed to gather enough power to beat his impediment and clear the fence. Running was out of question. He carted 21 fours and ten sixes.

From 147* to 201*, cricket was at Maxwell’s mercy to be contorted, rephrased and rediscovered. Never in serious cricket had a batter so effectively swung a bat while being so shapeless, feet planted, the ball magically getting the power to soar metres into the stands. Not least in any of the previous double centuries. Certainly not in a must-win World Cup game. Imagine a 40-ball ton not being your best knock of the tournament.

Cricketing miracles will never be recalled without a mention of Maxwell’s marvellous Mumbai mayhem. It was a reminder that the possibilities are endless. This beautiful game is still ready to be warped, redesigned and rewritten. For all those who thought they’d seen it all, Maxwell’s 201* would have settled the misbelief.