The secret behind Glenn Maxwell's Test revival
FOR Glenn Maxwell to make the leap from maligned talent to genuine Test star, he had to make some changes: stop trying to please people. Stop trying to prove everyone wrong.
And stop letting cricket take its toll.
That's the opinion of Maxwell's closest ally in cricket, Aaron Finch, who over the years has been a teammate, housemate and best mate with Australia's latest Test No.6.
Finch has seen the highs and lows up close, and believes Maxwell's "new mindset" has not only helped take his game to the next level but has him primed to be unleashed against England this summer.
The Big Show has until recently been a Test cricket enigma, but proved his credentials in the longer format of the game with a career-defining century against a quality Indian attack in the most gruelling conditions during the Border-Gavaskar Series.
Finch was a keen observer.
"He (Maxwell) is a lot more relaxed now and he is lot more comfortable with his game," Finch said from Rajkot.
"When you are constantly trying to impress people, constantly trying to prove people wrong, it can wear you down a little bit.
"Mentally you can start to doubt yourself a bit to the point where you are constantly thinking 'what I should do is constantly prove people wrong'.
"In that innings of Test cricket he showed what he is capable of and I'm sure that took some weight of his mind. He will realise (the key is) just to play his own game and stay true to himself."
Maxwell's maiden Test ton has gone some way towards cementing his Test prospects - although with Australia's preference for a seam-bowling all-rounder batting at No.6 on home soil, his spot is certainly not assured.
But Finch is of the opinion that Maxwell is good enough to be picked on the strength of his batting alone.
"Maxwell is good enough to play as a pure batsman at No.6 for the Ashes," he said.
"It will depend on the make-up of the side, where the six has been the fast-bowling all-rounder, but Maxi is good enough to play anywhere in that middle order as a pure batsman.
"Everyone saw the way he played in that innings and saw how good a batsman he actually is.
"People see the flare and unbelievable shots along with brute force. But that innings was such a technically sound innings and mentally such a good innings as well. He showed that he is capable of such innings in the longer format."
While Maxwell's brilliance was not enough to secure the Border-Gavaskar trophy, his innovative and mature approach prompted his IPL franchise, Kings XI Punjab, to make him their skipper for the ongoing season.
To date, Maxwell has done an admirable job and earned praise from respected former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
"We've just seen him have a breakthrough Test innings a couple of weeks ago, which I think delighted all of Australia," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
Everyone has been waiting for that breakout performance and there it was.
"This could just be the start. It could be the beginning of a very, very good back half of Glenn Maxwell's (career)."
Captaincy and leadership are familiar topics familiar to Finch, who held the role of Australia's T20 skipper from 2014 until he was stripped of his duties 18 months later, when selectors made Steve Smith skipper across all three formats.
The burden of leading all three Australian sides is a heavy one, and Finch isn't sure whether it is sustainable to have Smith in that position long-term - no matter how much he is thriving on the responsibilities currently.
"Well clearly you can have one skipper across all three formats," Finch said.
"But at some point one of the formats has to dip, the amount of cricket that has been played now from the guys playing all three formats, international cricket (and) throw in IPL, (plus) variably they are playing BBL, so there's no doubt they need a break here and then.
"I'm not saying that Steve is not the right man for all the formats, because I think he absolutely is.
"But whether that is sustainable for next five to 10 years? Probably not. That is due to the sheer weight of cricket that has been played around."
The thought of captaincy remains a distant one for Finch for the time being as he shifts his focus towards the Champions Trophy in five weeks time.
Finch has not scored a century for Australia in one-day cricket for over a year and during that period his average is a modest 25.15 with five half-centuries.
He believes he's thrown away opportunities to go big by batting too aggressively in the middle overs, when the more sensible approach might have been to consolidate before accelerating in the final ten overs.
"I have been a little bit too aggressive in the middle overs," he admits.
"It has been frustrating from my point of view. Perhaps looking forward, now I know about the mistake and depending on the game situation, I can alter my innings accordingly."
Australia has had six different opening combinations over the past year but Finch is likely to be reinstated alongside David Warner at the top of the order for the opening game in the Champions Trophy.
"We have played great partnerships over the years," Finch says of his work with Warner.
"We have known each other for good part of 15 to 16 years now, played a lot of cricket together, right from junior cricket to international cricket.
"We have that chemistry. It is important to have that with your opening partner and we know each other's games very well which gives us a chance to feed off each other's strengths and weakness as well.
"Hopefully going forward we can build upon that."