Thursday, 21 June 2018

The balance between bat and ball

England's utter destruction of Australia in the 3rd one-day international at Trent Bridge on Tuesday (Richie Benaud would almost certainly have said "It's absolute carnage out there" at some stage during it), has sparked a lot of debate online and on Test Match Special about whether or not there needs to be some evening up of the balance between bat and ball in this format of the game.

The straightforward answer is yes. As Jimmy Anderson said on the commentary, if every game is a high-scoring big-hitting contest, it all starts to blur into one. Many of the best one-day games I can remember have been low-scoring, tense affairs. Derbyshire's 1981 Nat West Trophy Final win. India's 1983 World Cup Final win. And of course, the 1999 Australia vs South Africa World Cup Semi-Final – for my money the best one-day match ever played.

What's annoying, though, is that this only ever comes up when England dish out a hammering. Yes, the pitch was flat and favoured batsmen. Yes, the Kookaburra balls used give bowlers no assistance whatsoever. But it's the same for both sides. Australia won the toss and declined to use the pitch when it was at its best for batting. They also bowled poorly, let's be honest, while England were excellent in the field. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali showed there was something in the pitch for spinners – more fool the Aussies for picking only one frontline spinner, leaving out Nathan Lyon, their best option.

When, in the past, England's one-day side has taken thrashing after thrashing on flat pitches, the pundits have been quick to say that they need to find bowlers who can come up with something different on such surfaces. Now we have, and now we've found batsmen who can take the fullest advantage of such friendly surfaces, we're being told that the rules need to change.

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