Glenn Maxwell is on the nose, big time.
But like a Hollywood actor whose career has hit the skids, he’s not beyond redemption. If he can put together a solid comeback strategy, he has the chance to turn things around both on and off the field.
Given Maxwell’s taste for the limelight, he could do worse than take heed from two of Hollywood’s greatest comeback kids – Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey.
Affleck first burst properly onto the scene as a precocious young actor/writer, having teamed up with Matt Damon in the excellent 1997 film Good Will Hunting. A few roles ensued in big budget action flicks like Amargeddon and Pearl Harbor, and things looked good for a lengthy stint at the top of the Hollywood food chain.
However, things fell apart for Affleck when he started to buy into his own hype. He hooked up with Jennifer “J-Lo” Lopez and took on some silly roles in box office flops like Daredevil and Gigli – and before he knew it, he was more tabloid fodder than bankable Hollywood actor.
Things turned around for Affleck, of course, when he swallowed his pride and stepped behind the camera, with his first full-length directorial debut (Gone Baby Gone) earning rave reviews from various critics.
He also followed the well-trodden path of celebrities taking the piss out of themselves after a controversy and/or career malaise, when he appeared in a Jimmy Kimmel spoof video entitled I’m Fucking Matt Damon. This showed layers – an ability to laugh at himself; an acute self-awareness – that, until then, audiences were unaware he had.
In 2010, Affleck starred, directed and co-wrote the Boston-based thriller, The Town – a nod to his own Massachusettian roots. Since then, he has continually made smart movies – and he’s so back in favour now that he’s been tapped as the next Batman: the Winfield Cup of Hollywood male acting.
It’s a similar story with McConaughey. Early on, he was the quintessential rom com heartthrob; the logical choice to partner genre luminaries such as Kate Hudson in a string of feel-good box office hits.
But just as McConaughey was scaling similar heights to Affleck, he fell from grace with equal aplomb. A few terrible movies set the tone for an embarrassing arrest, where he was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after being found playing bongos in the comfort of his own house, stark naked.
McConaughey knew he had to repent. He worked hard and took on a number of obscure roles in a bid to move outside his comfort zone; to be seen differently.
Before long, he was no longer the blonde surfer stereotype, but a gritty character actor prepared to get method in order to win the respect of his peers, not to mention an audience that had long written him off as just a good looking bloke with an excellent rig.
Basically, this is what Maxwell needs to do.
Maxwell has been typecast as an explosive, enigmatic player – a tag that he will find hard to shake. Because, by embracing this perception, Maxwell won himself a few massive IPL contracts and became an instant millionaire.
He managed to catapult this momentum into a couple of (inexplicable) test appearances, as the Australian selectors employed their ridiculous strategy of choosing aggressive bit-part players over proven specialists (sadly, a policy that continues to this day, despite all the money and resources spent on the Argus Review, which was principally aimed at making us good at cricket again).
After a dreadful showing in the UAE and some absurd, overly aggressive public statements, both verbal and physical, he has found himself on the outer again.
His mental game is shot; this was evidenced in its purest form the other day, when he charged down the wicket first ball only to shoulder arms and be bowled leg stump. Until now, this writer had only ever seen such an incident in the computer game Cricket ’96, where a player could run down the wicket and, by pressing ‘enter’ too late, would inadvertently shoulder arms to a straight one.
We speak a lot about rebranding on The Public Apology, but really, now is the time for Maxwell to rebrand himself; to reinvent himself as something more substantial than just a mouthy T20 hitter with a good arm.
Maxwell should, ideally, follow the career strategy of both Affleck and McConaughey. He must show self-awareness and a streak of self-deprecation. He must acknowledge that he has erred, if he is to win us back – not to mention his place in the Australian team.
Where Affleck chose to get behind the camera in filming the satirical Oscar winning political thriller Argo, tackling the Iranian Revolution in 1979 with a charismatic flair, Maxwell should look to focus on scoring runs in 4-day cricket.
Where McConaughey shed his chiselled rom com persona to play an AIDS riddled activist in Dallas Buyers Club, Maxwell should strive for a similar statement by leaving the Big Bash to work intensively on his technique. Preferably, this will take the form of a gruelling boot camp run by reality TV’s The Commando, where he treks the Andes and “learns a lot about himself in the process.”
Maxwell’s supporters fall into two categories: a) contrarians with little else to write about; b) blokes he went to school with. They’re the ones who’ll tell you that “you take the good with the bad with Maxy;” that we should “embrace his unpredictability,” etc.
I’m all for ironically embracing someone for being shit, but in that case, we shouldn’t confuse ‘unpredictability’ with ‘being shit’. And as for his X-factor, I don’t really get it. The reverse sweep – his pet stroke – is not the endangered species it once was, with plenty of state players now using the stroke to even greater effect than Maxwell.
Right now, he’s just a guy not scoring runs – and there are plenty of those around. Without runs, the only currency that matters, he will continue to fuel this (not wrong) perception that he is nothing but a sugar coated Twinkie snack cake: a tasty, cream-filled snack with no nutritional value whatsoever.
In summary, Maxwell must follow the tried-and-true trajectory of Hollywood actors such as Affleck and McConaughey. Blokes who have survived the career downturns and emerged with even greater upside.
It’s not all over for Maxwell. But it’s up to him, now.
By Dave Edwards