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Beloved Cricket Commentator Jim Maxwell Back Better Than Ever After Stroke

'I'm only a 66-year-old chicken.'

03/01/2017 3:17 PM AEDT | Updated 04/01/2017 10:32 AM AEDT
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Beer in deckchairs on back porches across Australia tastes better now that Jim's back.

Beloved ABC commentator Jim Maxwell is back where he belongs, commentating on Test cricket on ABC radio after suffering a stroke during the Rio Olympics last year.

The big difference in his commentary? Relax, there isn't one. Same old Jim, just the way we always loved him.

"Nothing's changed," Maxwell confirmed after his first stint on air on Tuesday.

"I try not to think about it too much. I wasn't sure the words were going to come out in the right order [but] it's like opening a door or starting a car."

Maxwell is regarded as the voice of Test cricket on the ABC and in many ways, the voice of summer itself. In recent times he has become as cherished a figure as the late Alan McGilvray, an ABC broadcaster Maxwell himself idolised.

Last summer, Maxwell told The Huffington Post Australia that the fresh cricket line-up he'd helped assemble on ABC Grandstand was the strongest he'd ever worked with. The team has been in fine fettle this year. But it hasn't been the same same without the man himself.

"It makes you realise what you've been missing ," ABC commentary team member Gerard Whateley told The Huffington Post Australia of the feeling in the box on Maxwell's return. "It's so natural to listen to, to be a part of. It just sort of feels right, everything's as it should be when he's there."

Maxwell first started calling cricket in the 1970s. He said he was feeling "a bit nostalgic" on his return to the SCG, a ground where he spent a lot of his youth "chasing tennis balls around the back of the stand".

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Yep, that's Jim at the SCG on Tuesday January 3.

When Maxwell was here at this corresponding fixture 40 years ago, Pakistan had a player called Imran Khan playing. That particular Imran Khan was of course a legend of the game, and would go on to be a prominent Pakistani politician and statesman. The current Imran Khan is playing just his ninth Test.

Maxwell will feature on the ABC's 7.30 program on Tuesday evening. In conversation with the producers of the show, he was in a mood to ponder the art of Test cricket commentary.

"I'd put it this way. Imagine yourself sitting somewhere on a tractor, or a beach, or in the car. What do you want to hear? You want the score, you want to know what's going on, and you want a bit of light and shade here and there to wake you up."

And that's exactly what Jim and the team gave us on his return. A bit of light, a bit of shade. Plus of course, the score.

Retirement? Forget it. That's one word you definitely won't hear coming out of Maxwell's mouth for the foreseeable future.

"I'd be bored I think if I did that," he said.

"As long as I'm healthy enough and the ABC is keen to have me on the air, I'll be here. I'm only a 66-year-old chicken."

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