Glenn Maxwell waited in the rain for almost an hour after hearing his leg broken at a backyard birthday party, revealing the gruesome details of how he suffered the horrific injury he fears may have crushed his immediate hopes of a much-coveted Test return will derail.
Speaking on cricket.com.au’s Unplayable Podcast from his home in south-east Melbourne, the bedridden all-rounder explained how a harmless prank at a 50th birthday party involving one of his former schoolteachers led to him shattering his left fibula.
Maxwell has since undergone surgery to repair the fracture and while the limited overs star admits his dream of a Test recall on next year’s India tour is hanging in the balance, he hopes the blow can eventually extend his cricketing career.
The party celebrating the birthday of an official at Maxwell’s Premier Cricket side Fitzroy-Doncaster was held in a small backyard with artificial turf that had been made slippery by the persistent rain Melbourne has endured in recent months.
“One of my friends, who was also one of my schoolteachers, we laughed about something and I pretended to drive him away from something,” said Maxwell, adding that his ex-teacher was “absolutely devastated” after the incident.
“I think we both took about three or four steps there and both slipped at the same time. My foot just kind of got stuck and it fell, unfortunately at a really bad angle, landing right on my leg.
“It just broke. I could hear and feel every part of it. It was quite painful.
“I kind of yelled and he said ‘please tell me you’re kidding, please tell me you’re kidding’.”
Maxwell wasn’t and called his wife Vini as he lay on his stomach for about 50 minutes. Not wanting to make the injury worse by moving him unnecessarily, his friends set up a makeshift tent to shelter him from the rain before it was decided on doctor’s orders that he be taken to hospital.
“I probably didn’t sleep for two days while I was in pain,” he said. “It’s been a pretty awful few days. My wife was incredible through it all.
“I shattered my fibula. So I think that was the first blow I heard. It was broken in two, but it also broke through the bone.
“There was also a small piece of the tibia (and) I also tore all the ligaments on top of my foot … the syndesmosis ligaments, they all tore. I did well for such an innocent thing.
“This is the frustrating thing about all of this: I’ve done stupid things on the pitch, stupid things off the pitch, and I’ve never come close to an injury (like this one).
“To do something so innocent, it’s just frustrating. It was just nothing incident. The number of times I’ve jumped into a pool and disappeared, ‘that was probably a little shallower than I thought’, and not even had a scratch, not even a bruise or anything, not even a rolled ankle.
“It was just kind of slippery, and suddenly there are a few months.”
A mainstay of the Australian T20 side that won the World Cup last year but failed to defend their title at home and of the 50-over side chasing a sixth men’s ODI title in India next year, Maxwell cherished has long aspired to add to his seven Test caps, the last of which came over five years ago.
A chance to showcase his red-ball skills would come in the Marsh Sheffield Shield, with Maxwell revealing Victoria’s home games against Tasmania this week and NSW long on his calendar next week as a rare break on the international calendar.
“Of all the cricket I would miss, these were probably the two games that hurt the most,” said Maxwell, who has not played a first-class match since 2019, although he came close as 12th man on Australia’s Test Tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year.
“I was so excited. Even the few sessions I had with (Victoria assistant coach) Ben Rohrer and the Vics in the few days after the last World Cup game – I was working on other things again, pretty much the same as Steve Smith was working behind the scenes on various things.
“It was just exciting again. I feel like I always get better when I play this format, I feel like there’s always a space where my technique can get better. It just feels like I’m making the biggest progress when I busy with my red ball game.
“Even Ben Rohrer – I spent 10 minutes with him I think and he picked up on things I was working on in pre-season that I might have gone a little bit off just because I was working on a lot of T20 power. I was hitting.
“For him to pull me right back into that technical mindset, it was a lot of fun.
“That’s why missing these two games hurts. I think these two games will be the hardest to watch, knowing that they would have been a great opportunity to play red-ball cricket again.”
Maxwell, a strong player of spin whose Tests have all come in Asia, has not fully closed the door to getting fit again ahead of the February-March tour of India and coach Andrew McDonald has even suggested that by the end of the four -Test could play campaign.
But he’s realistic about his chances, as a broken fibula can take months to heal.
“There’s a time limit on when they’re going to announce that squad to India and to be honest, chances are I’m not going to make it,” he said.
“Obviously they need to see me play cricket and of course they will have to take a big risk if they hire me.
“But I think that’s probably why I don’t want to set dates or timelines for me to come back to. I’d love to be okay, but I’m a slave to how my body recovers and how quickly I can imagine that I’ll get my strength back and then go back to playing cricket.”
On the one hand, the devastating blow has forced Maxwell into a sobering re-evaluation of how the final years of his cricketing career might unfold.
On the other hand, it has revived a vibrant talent who has been outspoken about how the packed international schedule, combined with overseas T20 competition commitments, can take a physical and mental toll.
Maxwell’s rehabilitation could be supported by his beloved St Kilda Football Club, who recently unveiled the Danny Frawley Center in south-east Melbourne, which features state-of-the-art injury recovery and hydrotherapy facilities.
Saints great Justin Koschitzke, now downtown partnerships coordinator, has already been in touch with Maxwell suggesting he use the Moorabbin facility, which is just a 10-minute drive from his home in Black Rock.
“As weird as it sounds… it’s probably not the worst time in my career to take a break,” said Maxwell.
“Even when I got the injury I thought, ‘I’m going to finish my career as the strongest ever, I’m going to make sure I never get another soft tissue injury, I’m going to be so focused on the gym work’.
“It’s kind of focused me. I think that’s the only silver lining I see.
“If I don’t get injured I’ll probably go through the summer, maybe go to India as a reserve player on that (Test) tour, play that one-day series, finish the IPL (Indian Premier League) and I’ll be cooked at the end of June and I’m watching probably much earlier towards the end of my career.
“My body is tired and cooked, and the end is probably closer than it should have been at 34.
“But I think I can now reassess and make sure I’m fit, strong, healthy and hopefully in better shape for next year’s World Cup and all future tournaments before the end of my career.
“I can still keep moving forward and finish my career on a high instead of it fading out and not being able to finish it the way I would have liked.”