ODI cricket continues to serve up the perfect blend of power and purity
As England blasted away all before them in the build-up to the 2019 Cricket World Cup, high-scoring matches – and maybe even totals approaching the unprecedented 500-mark – seemed likely.
But the tournament has delivered a reminder of the role ODI cricket still has to play in the global game. It is the perfect blend between test-match cricket and Twenty20.
Ironically, the tournament is taking place in a country soon to shun its domestic 50-over programme – pushed to the sidelines to accommodate the ill-thought-out and poorly-received Hundred next season.
It is typical of English cricket to fail to capitalise on the back of a big success story. See also: England winning the 2005 Ashes followed by the end of free-to-air cricket in the country.
But back to the Cricket World Cup, and in an age in which global superstars build their reputation in franchise T20 cricket, the game’s showpiece one-day event has been a purists’ delight.
Of course, the big-hitters are still thriving but for every innings such as Eoin Morgan’s record-breaking six-hitting against Afghanistan, there has been an antidote of beautiful strokeplay.
Joe Root was the anchor to Morgan’s incredible hitting in that game. His innings was the perfect example of what England’s test-match captain adds to the one-day team.
He passed 50 in 54 balls, hitting just two boundaries – the Yorkshireman scoring in singles and twos instead.
Root accelerated a little, to eventually score 88 off 82 balls, but the six he hit in the latter part of that innings was one of only two he has scored at the World Cup.
And yet, after helping England defeat India, Root still boasted a strike rate above 90 on his way to 476 innings in those first eight innings.
Keeping the board ticking
It is a similar story for Shakib Al Hasan, one of the stand-out batsmen of the group stage, who had a strike rate only just shy of 100 after the same number of runs.
Shakib’s 476 runs in six innings, however, had also contained just two sixes.
Kane Williamson is another perfect example, too – the day after Morgan’s heroics, the New Zealand captain scored a match-winning century of a very different kind at Edgbaston.
Williamson anchored New Zealand’s chase of 242 to beat South Africa, with a patient unbeaten 106 from 138 balls; his only six came in the final over.
The following match, Williamson hit another century. His 148 from 152 balls against West Indies again only contained one six.
The perfect blend?
Big-hitting still has its role to play, and it is the blend of both stroke play and power-hitting that has made the tournament so pleasing to watch on so many occasions.
Indeed, Aaron Finch passed 500 runs from just 492 balls – hitting 47 fours and 18 sixes.
Glenn Maxwell’s strike rate is 190.66 from the same number of innings; Jason Roy was a big miss for England, until he returned for the win against India.
But for every Roy or Morgan, you need a Root; for every Martin Guptill, a Kane Williamson.
Strike rates are going up, bowlers’ economy rates are only heading one way, but this World Cup has shown that some of the finest one-day batsmen can still be found away from the big hitters.