Tag Archives: World Cup

England’s World Cup Campaign: An Optimist’s Review

Judging from much of the media chatter, you could be forgiven for thinking that England have just endured yet another horror show at an ICC event. Failure to secure a victory against a Test playing nation, and bowing out of the competition before the quarter-finals have been the headline grabbers.

However, after looking at the data, it can be deduced that England’s World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand has actually been a rip-roaring success. Peter Moores enjoyed his most decorated World Cup as coach – admittedly it was his first, and likely only – while Eoin Morgan recaptured the ability to reach double figures with the bat.

Let’s take a look at each of England’s matches at the event, and why the Barmy Army can make the 10,000-mile trip home in high spirits.

England v Australia – England lost by 111 runs

England’s match with Australia in Melbourne formed part of the curtain-raiser for the tournament and the Three Lions wasted little time in silencing the 84,000-plus crowd. Fearsome bowling from Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes saw them take Australia’s first three wickets for a paltry 70 – a feat unmatched by any other at this year’s World Cup! If not for Aaron Finch, and Glenn Maxwell playing in a way that’s just not cricket, England would have been chasing nowhere near 343.

James Taylor’s 98 left the Poms with much to be encouraged about, and his unfair dismissal – a run-out that screamed of umpiring conspiracy – was evidence of the opposition being terrified England would chase down the further 112 needed in 8.1 overs with one wicket in hand. All in all, a solid start.

England v New Zealand – England lost by 8 wickets

Admittedly, this was hardly the most earth-shattering performance, but there was still plenty to glean from this relatively short display at the office. Winning the toss and batting proved an inspirational decision from Morgan, as England racketed to 100 in 25 overs: well on track for the par score of 250 – wait, it is still 1992 isn’t it? From thereon Tim Southee sent the innings, well, south. But 123 was a total they should have been confident of defending.

It didn’t go quite as planned, yet England could take solace from a killer spell by Chris Woakes, who snaffled two wickets in three overs, with a maiden over to boot. There is no substitute to restricting in-form batsmen when it comes to winning games, and it was Woakes again who delivered, sending Brendon McCullum’s bails flying on only his 25th delivery. Unfortunately, by then he had already tonked 77. Can’t win ’em all.

England v Scotland – England won by 119 runs

England charged to a frighteningly easy win over old foes Scotland. Moeen Ali spanked a Virender Sehwag-esque ton at the top of the order. A day which saw the doubters well and truly silenced. No further comment required.

England v Sri Lanka – England lost by 9 wickets

In a perfect batting display, a Joe Root-powered innings saw England saunter to 309 – superlative to any targets set by the trusty Windows 2000. Root’s 121 was complimented by a late cameo from Jos Buttler, and the duo’s knocks made up for an out-of-form Gary Ballance and a stodgy effort from Morgan.

If they hadn’t spent quite so much time drooling over the soon-to-be-retired Kumar Sangakkara, England perhaps would have claimed a win here, but there were far more important matters at hand. Moeen recorded the second-most economical figures for a spinner who bowled their full 10 overs against Sri Lanka at this World Cup, leaking a mere 50 – only Daniel Vettori conceded fewer. Keeping their opponents batting until the 48th over ensured Sri Lanka were at the crease for longer than in their matches with the two tournament favourites, Australia and New Zealand. A commendable day.

England v Bangladesh – England lost by 15 runs

England narrowly avoided victory against Bangladesh in a contest which typified their tournament. Limiting the Tigers to 275 from their 50 overs – 13 fewer than they managed against the Kiwis – wouldn’t have been possible without James Anderson’s glorious bowling figures of two for 45. It was a score Moores’ side would have been confident of chasing at the interval, with the newly-purchased Windows XP stating they would win providing they scored at least 114 runs from the first 23.1 overs, and lost a maximum of 2.6 wickets.

Once again, forces beyond their control prevented England from keeping their World Cup hopes alive but the Poms had much to cheer about in defeat. England’s innings of 260 was a full 260 more than Australia accumulated against the same opponents – that match was, however, a washout. Early wickets in England’s chase meant Buttler had ample time to make an impact; his 65 from 52 gave his country much to be hopeful about in the future, playing with an aggression never previously seen in his game. Far from an ebbing low, in years to come this match will be viewed as a towering crest for English cricket.

England v Afghanistan – England won by 9 wickets

England culminated their finest World Cup showing for 23 years by pummeling Afghanistan – who will never set foot in a World Cup again if the ICC have their way. Exerting their dominance, England bundled the Afghans out for 111 – their lowest score of the tournament, before biffing off the revised Duckworth/Lewis score with a full seven overs remaining, sending the travelling fans home happily with two points.

Result: England OUT – 5th in Pool A

A mathematical irregularity resulted in two wins from six not being enough to qualify for the next phase of the tournament, something the ICC will undoubtedly try to correct before the 2019 World Cup, which will be held in England and Wales.

However, there are, as usual, many positives to take from England’s curtailed campaign. Due to their early exit, the Test side now have ample time to prepare for their series against the West Indies starting on 13 April. The month lay-off may come as a disappointment, but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Which is, yet another positive.

Bowlers hold the key in batsman’s utopia

This article was originally published on Last Word On Sports.

Much has been made about the dominance bat has acquired over ball in One Day cricket—a theme that has only been amplified during this World Cup. The benchmark total of 300 is rapidly being replaced by a younger model, 400—although no one seems to have told England—and in the space of five years, the triple century has usurped the double century as a batsman’s ODI Everest.

When Chris Gayle plundered a sorry Zimbabwe for 215 in Nelson two weeks ago, we witnessed the first ODI 200 that radiated inevitability instead of incredibility. As AB de Villiers shaved five deliveries off Corey Anderson’s fastest hundred in Johannesburg in January—he needed just 31 balls—we took another step towards inexorable batting perfection. David Warner then toyed with the idea of crunching three in Perth last week, as he cantered past 150 with over a third of Australia’s innings to go; admittedly he was “only” battering Afghanistan.

Of the 15 occasions where 400 has been posted by a side in ODI cricket, four have occurred this year, with three from South Africa. Interestingly, four of the five highest totals were recorded in 2006—two by the Proteas. A further 63 totals make the list when including innings in excess of 350, with 27 coming since the turn of the decade. The run-gluts are coming at an unprecedented rate.

However, in the 75 times a target of 350 or greater has been set, only thrice has it proven not to be enough. Scoreboard pressure has, at least, has remained a constant. Sri Lanka looked to be on track to challenge Australia’s 376 in Sydney on Sunday, anchored by yet another seamless Kumar Sangakkara ton, but ultimately, they still fell 65 runs shy of victory.

Analysis of individual statistics would paint a similar picture, there is little point indulging with further mind-boggling statistics. The dawn of batting supremacy has broken—for the first 50 overs anyway.

Therefore is all hope for bowlers lost? Can we conclude that all future pliers of the bowling trade are either masochists or insane? Well, despite the apparent overwhelming evidence, no. In fact, this World Cup has, and will continue to showcase that capable bowlers are worth their weight in gold, fast bowlers in particular. Granted, it is much tougher. Miserly career economy rates are long gone, in that aspect the game has fundamentally changed. Batting powerplays, bigger bats and smaller boundaries suggest this is ICC-induced change, but it doesn’t matter. The contest remains the same.  Good bowling is still good bowling, and it shines as brightly in the new game as it did in the old.

Tim Southee’s seven for 33 against England earlier in the tournament killed the game. In firing out their opponents for 123, New Zealand had killed the game. Similarly in Auckland, Trent Boult’s five wickets gave the Kiwis total command against Australia, dismissing them for 151. It was only another equally impressive bowling effort from Mitchell Starc—who claimed a six-fer—that almost pulled his side back from the brink.

It was Starc who was also vital for Australia when they played Sri Lanka. On a day where 688 runs were racked up, his eight overs for 29 with two late scalps that proved decisive. Conceding fewer than four-an-over choked Sri Lanka’s chase. Every other player in the match went for more than five; four leaked over eight. If just one bowler from the opposition turned in a Starc-like performance, Australia would likely have been restricted to under 350: a score Sri Lanka may well have got close to, considering how ably they handled the first 30 overs of their innings.

Pakistan demonstrated that small totals can still be defended, even against the batting might of South Africa. The choking tag is always bandied around when the latter loses, and in pursuit of 232 they perhaps should have fared better, but Pakistan won this match more than South Africa lost it. Aggressive, fast bowling—a Pakistani trademark—snared wickets, which allowed them to secure the win with the Proteas unable to utilise fourteen overs of their innings. Pakistan’s ferocity with the ball, albeit not at the level of cricket’s Class of ’92 (the Imran Khan-led side who trumped all the last time the World Cup was held on these shores) was a match-winner.

It is not altogether facetious to suggest that the best way to counter attacking batting is through attacking bowling. Brendon McCullum’s Black Caps are living proof. Five times New Zealand have bowled their opposition out this World Cup, five times they have won. Instead of sitting back and protecting strong starts, they have gone for the jugular—employing slip fielders well into the middle overs has not been uncommon. It’s an intriguing policy and one that could prove a trailblazer for future ODI bowling.

Forget slow bouncers and all the other “variations” that in a previous era would have been treated with the disdain they deserve, batsmen have cottoned on. For bowlers, it’s not about reinventing the wheel, but perfecting their original art. Attempting to contain batsmen has become a largely fruitless exercise, although pacers would be well served finding appropriate medication for their yorker allergy. In modern ODI cricket teams must seek to bowl the opposition out at all costs. It’s a high-risk strategy but if a side bats 50 overs they’ll most likely end up well into the 300s anyway—a score that is rarely chased. In this World Cup alone, only three times out of 18 has a 300-plus score been successfully tracked down.

So, working from these musings, who is best placed to take the plaudits at this cricketing carnival? New Zealand are the obvious candidates. McCullum’s men are playing like their rugby counterparts have so often. His brazen approach with the bat has paid dividends so far while Boult and Southee are spearheading the bowling attack with great aplomb: they are currently first and second respectively on the list of leading wicket takers for the tournament.  However, the hosts are yet to break their semi-final duck at World Cups and this run is very much mirroring their 1992 run, the year they last hosted the event, where they topped their group before exiting in the last four.

Australia possess extraordinary batting depth, to an extent where Brad Haddin can come in as low as eight, but they came unstuck against New Zealand in Auckland, and also looked shaky at times with the ball against Sri Lanka: Starc has bailed them out somewhat. Moreover, batting first in all four games has done little to assess their versatility credentials. That said, home advantage and a winning know-how will stand them in good stead as the competition reaches the knockout phases.

Claiming that South Africa have underachieved in the One Day arena would find almost unanimous agreement, and despite the compelling argument for them to break their World Cup duck in 2015, the seeds for another choke are already in place. Untouchable when given first-strike, they have looked a side confused chasing, falling 130 short of India’s 307 in Melbourne, before being skittled for a paltry 202 against Pakistan. Once again, an ICC tournament looks like being South Africa’s kryptonite.

As goes the saying in the sub-continent: “If India and Pakistan never partitioned they would never be beaten,” for the former has the batting might while the Pakistanis have historically reigned supreme with the ball. Alas, we will never know if that presumption would hold true but both have reasons to be optimistic ahead of the latter stages.

Unfancied by many, especially after their tri-series with Australia and England, India have once again turned up to an ICC event and performed. Unbeaten so far, their quick bowlers dismantled West Indies and convincing all-round displays against Pakistan and South Africa gives the defending champions much to be confident about. A likely quarter-final with Bangladesh is an added bonus for MS Dhoni’s men.

Meanwhile, Pakistan announced their revival with a blitzing of South Africa’s power-packed batting lineup in Auckland. They may no longer have the Wasims and Waqars, or the Miandads and Inzamams, but it appears that Misbah-ul-Haq’s men have found some belief. Pakistan’s two ICC victories (1992 World Cup and 2009 World Twenty20) arose following hapless starts. In beating South Africa, we saw glimpses of the old Pakistan. The fiery trio of Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali caused chaos with the ball while Sarfraz Ahmed’s inclusion brought a world-record six catches behind the stumps as well as a mood-setting 49 at the top of the order. Their bowling makes up for what their batting has so far lacked—strength in the former may prove vital. A long shot maybe, but the mercurial Pakistan can never be discounted. They thrive on adversity.

Cricket may be hurtling towards a batsman’s utopia, but in a perverse way, it makes a star bowler all that more instrumental. The ability to thwart the McCullum assault is a far rarer trait than being able to blast the ball beyond the boundary, as is the nous to protect a sub-par total. No, the bowler is still essential. It is far too soon to be scribing their obituary.

Kiwis triumph over England a result defined by captaincy

Watching a merciless New Zealand pulverise England has not been a rare occurrence over the years, but the latest harrowing defeat has little in common with its predecessors.

This was not a battle of 15 against 15. There was no fearsome Maori war dance before proceedings began. This was not rugby. This was cricket. Yet such was the unforgiving brutality of the Black Caps, this procession would not have looked alien had it taken place on a rectangular field.

Procession. This was not a match. A match requires a contest between two teams. After skittling England for just 123, New Zealand needed only 74 deliveries to hunt down their target. They faced no resistance, no struggle. This was not a fight. More, a sacrifice.

The captains personify their teams and their fortunes. There is Brendon McCullum. Baz. Under his attacking leadership, New Zealand have found the concoction to win. In the field, he ratcheted up the pressure wicket after wicket, going for the jugular in a way others wouldn’t. Who else would keep the slip cordon intact well into the mid-section of the innings? There was no consolidating once Tim Southee blasted through the middle-order. No holding him back unless he was needed later. Southee ensured there was to be no later. His seven wickets for 33 marked the best figures by a New Zealander in ODIs as England were all-out with one-third of their innings still remaining.

With rapier in hand, McCullum was equally devastating. A ferocious 77 from 25 sent the Wellington crowd delirious, a barrage of eight fours and seven maximums. He also recorded the fastest 50 in World Cup history. 18 balls. Eighteen.

Then there is England’s captain, Eoin Morgan. The contrast could not be greater. A confidence-shot Morgan had managed three ducks and a two in his four previous innings, and was in the midst of a month-long boundary drought. After making 17 scratchy runs, he was dismissed when a failed drive off Daniel Vettori was snaffled by Adam Milne, who took a magnificent diving catch. While a couple of Southee’s swinging pearlers were simply too good, brainless batting from others was less excusable. Gary Ballance – whose World Cup involvement following a five-month ODI lay-off is mystifying – succeeded only in chipping a shortish ball with width to short cover. Soon after, with England in dire straits, Stuart Broad played a nothing shot that looped straight to Vettori at mid-off – indefensible for a player of his experience. Joe Root, who dug in for an admirable 46, is the only Englishman who can look at his effort from this match with any sense of pride.

Bowling was always going to be a fruitless task, but even the most hardened of pessimists would have been surprised at just how toothless the response was. Two overs for 49 would be some achievement on a video game. But that is exactly what McCullum plundered Steven Finn for. Tame, welcoming bowling saw nine of his 12 balls reach the fence, six of them without bouncing – including four consecutively. Two New Zealand wickets may have fallen in the chase, but their memory will survive only in print. This was their utopian day.

So far, the Morgan era has served only to continue Alastair Cook’s legacy rather than end it. England’s one-day style is meek, scared even. Despite the glut of ODIs in recent months, England are still without ideas to post 300 – a score rapidly becoming the modern-day par – and are clueless as to containing the opposition with the ball.

Losses against Australia and New Zealand – two of the favourites for the tournament – are not terminal for England’s World Cup bid, the nature of the defeats is however, far more telling. Winning the coin-flip twice has resulted in leaking 342, and being bundled for 123. The opposition has been good, but not that good. Qualification hopes rest in beating Scotland, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It isn’t beyond the realms but nothing has been done to instill confidence. Their next match, a meeting with Scotland, may be a virtual knockout. Their reward for beating the trio mentioned would likely see them rewarded with a quarter-final tie against South Africa. Poms, the glass is half-full, right?

It most certainly is for New Zealand. This tournament presents a chance to banish the perennial semi-finalists tag – a feat they have achieved no fewer than six times. Everything is slotting into place. The batting. So powerful. The bowling. So efficient. The fielding. So well drilled. But perhaps most importantly, their leader’s burning fire has engulfed the rest. No longer are New Zealand the tricky, plucky outsiders. Attributed to them now is the ‘fearsome’ tag so regularly applied to their Oceanic neighbour.

Captains in limited-overs cricket can sometimes seem irrelevant in comparison to their Test counterparts. But captaincy runs deeper than who must bowl when, and what field placements should be set. This match described that more eloquently than words ever could.

10 Best Ever Innings in One Day Internationals

Note: This article is old but I notice it gets read often. It clearly hasn’t stood the test of time, but pretend we’re back in 2014.

Rohit Sharma’s incredible 264 in the fourth one-day international against Sri Lanka this week smashed Virender Sehwag’s three-year record for the highest individual score in ODI cricket.

In light of Sharma’s blitzkrieg, I’ve sifted through the archives to produce my list of the 10 best innings in the history of limited-overs internationals.

10) Sanath Jayasuriya 189 v India in Sharjah, 2000

Sharjah was the scene for the 2000 Coca-Cola Champions Trophy Final between Sri Lanka and India and it was the dimunitive Sanath Jayasuriya who stole the show.

Anchoring the innings for the majority, the left-hander led his side into a commanding position, setting the base for an explosive finish. What followed was devasating. After reaching three figures in 118 balls Jayasuriya proceeded to flay the ball to all parts. His next 89 came off just 43 deliveries, including 11 fours and three sixes before being stumped off the bowling of Sourav Ganguly with 11 balls remaining. The late Tony Greig lamented on how he “could have made the highest score ever”, and indeed in hindsight perhaps Jayasuriya should have become the first man to reach an ODI double-century.

Sri Lanka notched up a daunting 299 in their 50 overs, before skittling the Indians for a paltry 54, scoring a 245-run victory, a record margin at the time.

9) Herschelle Gibbs 175 v Australia in Johannesburg, 2006

The 438-game. Eight years on it’s still hard to believe this match really happened. A total of 872 runs in 100 overs, 26 sixes, and sheer cricketing pornography.

The fifth and decisive ODI between South Africa and Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg was a game ahead of its time – we still haven’t reached that time yet. Courtesy of a Ricky Ponting 164, the Aussies chalked up a world record 434-4 in their 50 overs. A record that was to stand for all of about four hours.

In pursuit of the mammoth target, the Proteas had no option but to attack, attack, and then attack some more. Herschelle Gibbs was up to the task. Coming to the crease at 3-1, Gibbs blazed 175 off 111 balls, to slingshot his side into a strong position. By the time he was dismissed, 21 boundaries and seven sixes better off, the South Africans had managed 299-4 in just 32 overs. Had Gibbs batted through, he would have probably made 250.

South Africa won the game, and the series with a ball to spare, Mark Boucher shepherding the side home with one wicket in hand. It was Gibbs’ effort though, who was key in making the seemingly impossible, happen.

8) MS Dhoni 91* v Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup Final

Twenty-eight years after their maiden triumph, a Mumbai crowd were more demanding than expectant as India looked to reclaim their World Cup crown on home turf.

Dreams of a 100th international hundred for Sachin Tendulkar, at home, and in the final, were soon dashed and after Virat Kohli was dismissed for 35, the Sri Lankans had a foothold at 114-3, defending 274. Out strolled Mahendra Singh Dhoni, promoting himself up the order, India were going to win this game and the captain was leaving nothing to chance.

Soaking up the pressure in the cauldron of the Wankhede Stadium, Dhoni guided India, aided by Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, steadily towards the target. With victory all but assured, he decided the game was to end in trademark MSD fashion. The six clubbed over long-on to bring India their second world title, is etched forever into the memory of every Indian sports fan. A sporting fairytale.

7) Adam Gilchrist 149 v Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup Final

Rain reduced the 2007 World Cup Final to 38 overs a side, making it even more essential for the team batting first to set an imposing total.

Australia won the toss and elected to bat and it was Adam Gilchrist who came to the party in Barbados. Taking the Sri Lankan attack to the sword, the wicket-keeper slashed the bowlers around the ground, wreaking havoc as he chalked up 149 runs in just 104 deliveries. An innings that included 13 fours and eight sixes led the Australians to a huge 281-4 from their 38 overs. Controversy was rife however after it transpired Gilchrist had wedged a squash ball into his glove, something he made reference to whilst celebrating his century. The MCC were quick to quash any murmurs of rule-breaking.

Sadly, the end scenes of the final were slightly farcical. Forced to complete their innings in near-darkness, Sri Lanka fell 53 runs short on the Duckworth/Lewis method. That didn’t bother Australia, whose dominance brought them a third-consecutive World Cup triumph.

6) Kapil Dev 175* v Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup

When Kapil Dev strode to the crease with India 9-4 – which soon became 17-5 – his side were in deep trouble. The unfancied Zimbabweans were running riot and the Tunbridge Wells crowd may have expected to have been home by mid-afternoon.

Kapil had other ideas. With the support of the lower order, most notably wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani, the captain began to hoist his team to a defendable total. Brutalising the Zimbabwe attack, he crunched a record 175* consisting of sixteen fours and six maximums. Kapil and Kirmani put on an unbeaten 126 for the ninth-wicket, as India compiled a strong 266 off their 60 overs.

India went on to win the game by 31 runs and Kapil’s heroics lit the spark for the rest of their World Cup campaign. Stunning two-time champions West Indies in the final, India managed to defend a meek 183 at Lord’s to be crowned world champions for the first time.

5) Saeed Anwar 194 v India in Chennai, 1997

On a swelteringly hot day in Chennai, India and Pakistan took to the field for a group match in the 1997 Independence Cup.

As always in an India-Pakistan contest, tensions were heightened and it was the exquisite left-hander Saeed Anwar who rose to the occasion. An innings contrasting with timing and brute force, Anwar cut, pulled, and drove, on his way to breaking Viv Richards’ 13-year record for the highest individual score in ODIs. A knock of 22 fours and five sixes, he looked set to become the first man to become the first double-centurion in ODI cricket, but was dismissed by Tendulkar six runs short.

The Pakistani carried his side to a strong 327, of which Anwar made 194 – nobody else surpassed 39. In reply, Rahul Dravid hit a composed century, but the target proved too much, as Pakistan claimed victory by 35 runs.

4) Sachin Tendulkar 98 v Pakistan in 2003 World Cup

If ever an ODI innings deserved a century it was this one. The match date was set in stone over a year in advance, and amidst growing political tensions between India and Pakistan, anticipation was huge for this blockbuster at Centurion.

Pakistan had set a total of 273, a formidable one considering their bowling trio of Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, and Waqar Younis. India needed a fast start, and Sachin Tendulkar was intent on giving them one. A cover drive for four in the opening over was just the beginning. Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express, took fire at Tendulkar in the second over. The response was magical. First came a swishing upper-cut for six, followed by a beautiful flick off the pads, before a gorgeous straight drive to complete the sequence. One of the most memorable passages of play in ODI history.

The Little Master continued to feast on the Pakistani attack, in an exhibition of power and placement. The whirlwind lasted for 75 deliveries, before Tendulkar was caught by Younis Khan off the bowling of Akhtar for 98. From thereon, Dravid and Yuvraj guided India to victory, as they maintained their 100% record over Pakistan in World Cup cricket.

3) Rohit Sharma 264 v Sri Lanka in Kolkata, 2014

On his return to the Indian team Rohit Sharma would have been keen to make an impact against Sri Lanka in Kolkata, and my, did he do just that.

Dropped at third-man on just four, Rohit ensured the mistake was to be one of the costliest in the history of the game. Calmly reaching his first 50 in 72 balls, what followed was a blitzkrieg seen previously only in video games. The next 101 deliveries brought with them 214 runs as Rohit sent the Eden Gardens crowd into a frenzy, with a tumultuous 33 boundaries and nine maximums.

Cracking the ball to all corners, the opener sailed past his previous high score of 209 versus Australia in Bangalore last year, to become the first man to score two double-hundreds in the history of ODI cricket. Sehwag’s 219 was next to fall as he continued crucified admittedly poor bowling, on his way to a scarcely believable total. Dismissed off of the final delivery of the innings, the only record still standing after the assault was Ali Brown’s 268 made in a limited-overs match for Surrey, 12 years ago. I doubt Rohit minded too much.

2) Viv Richards 189* v England at Old Trafford, 1984

The flambuoyant West Indian, Viv Richards, had built a reputation for being the best player in the world at limited-overs cricket. This innings encapsulated that greatness, as he tore into England’s bowlers, whilst guiding his team towards a solid total.

Played in the days where ODIs were 55 overs per side, Richards came to the crease with the West Indies in a spot of bother at 11-2. Typically he stood firm, but woes at the other end continued, and he soon found himself running out of partners. When Malcolm Marshall was run-out for four, the West Indies were in dire straits at 102-7. Richards blazed on, supported ably by Eldine Baptiste, but after he was caught behind for 26, followed soon after by Joel Garner, the innings was all but over at 166-9.

Michael Holding grit his teeth, giving Richards as much strike as possible, in order to inflict maximum damage. He didn’t disappoint. Pumelling the ball everywhere,  Richards went on to post 189* – with 21 fours and five sixes – as the West Indies made 272-9. The unbeaten 10th-wicket partnership of 106 is a record that still stands 30 years later.

England, shell-shocked from Richards’ masterclass, crumbled in their chase, bowled out for just 168. Still not content, Richards picked up two wickets and snaffled a catch. Not bad for a day’s work.

1) Sachin Tendulkar 200* v South Africa in Gwalior, 2010

The best player of his generation, and undoubtedly ever in ODI cricket, it was probably written that Tendulkar would be the first man to mount the 200-run ODI Everest.  A feat that had tormented and teased fans, as much as avid statisticians.

A predictably hot day in Gwalior, a flat track and a smallish ground were suitable conditions for something special. It was to be more perfect than special, however. A chanceless knock against arguably the best bowling attack in the world, South Africa. Tendulkar struck the ball with grace, and purpose, dissecting the field as he began piling up the runs. Upon reaching his first 100 in just 28 overs, whispers of the double were beginning to circulate, he had a chance.

The full array of shots were on display as Tendulkar pressed on. Around 10 overs later, a flick through mid-wicket took him past 150, Indian hearts were beating somewhat faster by now. Fitness levels were questioned, and duly answered as a well sprinted second run snuffed out hopes of a run-out. There was a sense it was going to happen, but it didn’t quell the tension.

Still the slaughter continued, fours and sixes aplenty as Tendulkar edged closer to the milestone, first past his previous best of 186*, then surmounting Anwar and Charles Coventry’s 194 for the highest individual ODI innings. Visibly beginning to tire, Dhoni took up boundary hitting responsibility, leaving Tendulkar to pick off the occasional single.

The third ball of the 50th over marked the moment. On 199 only a single was required, and over a billion hearts were in mouth as Charl Langeveldt ran in. Tendulkar nudged the ball to point, trotted through for the single, and sent a crowd, and a nation into delirium. The Master had done it. An innings of a lifetime, from the greatest of them all.