In one of the most telling developments in the build-up to the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup , the tournament organisers decided to redesign the official fans’ scoresheets during World Cup to accommodate up to 500-run team totals. It’s the sign of the times we live in. Indeed, the showrunners of the marquee cricket event are saying quite pointedly: be prepared for 500 to be scored in an innings during the 2019 World Cup.
One of the traditions in English grounds is the printed scorecard that a spectator can buy at the end of day’s play or match by paying a pound or two. It is considered to be a souvenir for the fans.
“Scorecards bought by fans at games have a tally of runs that can be ticked off and for the World Cup they were originally designed to go up to 400. But at an operations meeting last week Steve Elworthy, the tournament director, realised they would have to be redesigned with a tally of up to 500,” reported British newspaper Daily Telegraph.
It should come as no surprise that the current world record for the most runs in an ODI innings is held by England and came in one of their home ODIs: an incredible 481/6 against Australia in Bristol last year. Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow both hit hundreds as England broke the record for the highest score in a men’s one-day international for the second time in two years at Trent Bridge. Hales made 147 and Bairstow 139 as England surpassed their own previous all-time record men’s ODI total of 444 for three, also set at Trent Bridge, against Pakistan in 2016.
And speaking of England and Pakistan, the most recent series between the two sides – the last set of ODIs played before the World Cup – witnessed seven 300-plus scores in the eight completed innings. In the third ODI in Bristol (where West Indies smashed 421 in the warm-up game on Tuesday), England chased down 359 with 25 balls to spare.
A closer look at the numbers in ODIs since the 2015 World Cup offers more evidence that the 2019 edition is going to witness a run-fest.
Most runs/match since Apr 2015
|Host country||Matches played||Total runs scored||Run per match|
|in South Africa||42||19331||460.26|
|in New Zealand||44||19626||446.05|
|in Sri Lanka||36||15559||432.19|
|in West Indies||32||12934||404.19|
While Australia as a host country, where not many matches have been played since the 2015 World Cup, top the aforementioned list, almost every other batting parametric is dominated by ODIs played in England
Run-scoring in ODIs since April 2015
|Host Country||Runs per over while batting||No of centuries scored|
|in Sri Lanka||5.67||18|
|in South Africa||5.62||39|
|in New Zealand||5.54||23|
|in West Indies||5.26||21|
- In the recent series, England became the first side to score four consecutive 340-plus scores in ODI history. This happened against Pakistan, who for their part, scored three consecutive 340-plus scores.
England’s scores in the recent Pakistan ODI series (in completed matches):
- The scoring rate of 6.97 in this series was also the second highest of all time in a bilateral series of minimum four matches. (No surprise, that the first on the list is also in England when New Zealand visited for a high-scoring series after the 2015 World Cup. The run-rate in that series was more than 7 RPO.)
- England have amassed 24 300-plus scores since April 2015 at home.
- England alone have accounted for four of the five 400-plus totals since the 2015 World Cup and three have come in home grounds. (Twice in Nottingham and once in Birmingham).
- Six of the top 10 highest team totals in World Cup history came in 2015. That’s a trend that is only likely to continue.
“It is going to be a high-scoring tournament but back home too I said that 260-270 will also be as tough to get in a World Cup as chasing 370-380. I don’t see many high-scoring games in the latter stages of the tournament, initially some teams might get on a roll but later on you will see 250 defended as well. That is the kind of pressure the World Cup brings,” Indian captain Virat Kohli said.
“Not all the teams are going to be in a great position [in the latter half]. The ones who have to make sure that they get the result are going to be under pressure while chasing even a small total. The fact that you are going to be close to a knockout berth will get you under pressure in the latter stages and all teams recognise that.
“Then you will not see many teams going gung-ho from ball one. Generally, both teams would like to start in a balanced way and look to capitalise on the moments. So I see pressure being a massive factor in the World Cup,” Kohli added.
To add to Kohli’s point, the fact that the World Cup is now only down to the top 10 teams could also be a mitigating factor in avoiding too many high-scoring games. But only just, as England have repeatedly shown the quality of the bowling attack does not really matter when they get going. As did West Indies in the warm-up match against New Zealand, in a match where 751 runs were scored in total.
For a guy who thrives under pressure and has revolutionised chasing in ODIs, those are strong predictions to make. Sure, pressure will play a role in crunch matches but as we saw in the 2015 World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa, if the conditions are good for run-scoring, expect fireworks irrespective of the situation: that’s the modern day game.
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