The Cricket World Cup is right around the corner. And one does expect this to be one of the highest scoring World Cups in history. With “English conditions” now a thing of the past, and if the ongoing Royal London One-Day Cup is any indication, one could expect to see scores of 350+ consistently this world cup.
The ODI game has evolved over the past decade. With T20 blossoming into the giant that it is, batsmen have been transferring those skills and confidence into the longer format and gargantuan scores are no longer an exception, they are the norm. Anyone for a wager on us seeing the first ever 500 score in ODIs this World Cup?
This, however, is a very recent phenomenon. Back in the 80s and 70s, as ODIs came into existence and were just about finding their spot, scores of 200-250 would be considered winning totals. That was perhaps an era where scoring at a strike rate of above 100 might have been frowned upon.
But then, every norm has its exceptions. So, here’s looking at six such innings from the 80s and 70s when batsmen took to power-hitting that wouldn’t be out of place even in today’s manic era of batting.
#1 Greg Chappell – 138* (109 balls) – Australia vs New Zealand (25th Nov, 1980)
The second match of the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup played at Sydney witnessed a massacre from the Australian captain unlike anything seen before. A circumspect start from the openers Kim Hughes and John Dyson later, Greg Chappell walked in and put on an exhibition of ODI batting.
Not even the great Sir Richard Hadlee was spared as he went for 66 runs off his 10 overs. The most breathtaking aspect of this innings was that it included just 10 fours and a six, i.e. 92 runs were scored through 1s, 2s, and 3s. An absolute masterclass in constructing an innings that wouldn’t be out of place even in 2019.
#2 Zaheer Abbas – 118 (86 balls) – Pakistan vs India (17th Dec 1982)
The India-Pakistan rivalry always brings up some gems like these. Playing the second ODI of the series in Multan, this match boasted of a scorecard that would make teams proud even today. Reduced to 40 overs, Pakistan batted first and put up 263 on the board for the loss of two wickets, thanks to centuries from Mohsin Khan and Zaheer Abbas.
Abbas was brutal on the Indian bowlers, hitting them for 10 fours and 4 sixes during his stay. Striking at a strike rate of 137 (compared to his career strike rate of 84), Abbas was truly in the zone that day in December. This match also saw a radical innings from the Indian side, as Sandeep Patil bludgeoned the Pakistani attack for 84 off just 60 balls, only to be dismissed by Abbas, before he could do more damage and push India closer towards a win.
#3 David Gower – 158 (118 balls) – England vs New Zealand (15th Jan 1983)
This was an innings of two extremes for England. David Gower scored 158 runs in 118 balls at a strike rate of 133, while the rest of the England team scored 109 runs in 182 balls at a strike rate of 59.89. The sheer brilliance of Gower was in display on that day in Brisbane.
The disdain with which he attacked the New Zealand bowlers with his trademark elegance and poise was a sight to behold. Dispatching 18 fours and 4 sixes en-route his 158, Gower towered over his peers in a display of batting dominance that very few would have matched since.
There were flicks to fine-leg, punches to cover, lofted strokes in the arc, all that would have looked very much in place even in a T20. It is a gem of an innings lost in the annals of history.
#4 Viv Richards – 149 (99 balls) – West Indies vs India (7th Dec 1983)
The original Master Blaster, the connoisseur of destruction, the alpha of cricket, this list would just not be valid without a Viv Richards entry in it. Fresh from the wounds of not being able to clinch a third straight World Cup, West Indies toured the winners, India, in December of 1983.
Revenge may not necessarily have been in mind, but the sheer audacity and derision with which Richards attacked the Indian bowling on that chilly day in Jamshedpur was magical. Striking 20 fours and 3 sixes during the innings, Richards led West Indies to a total of 333 in a mere 45 overs, which was more than enough to hand out a pasting to the Indian team.
An exhibition of power-hitting that subdued the Indians to good measure, as India eventually succumbed to a 5-0 loss in the ODI series.
#5 Allan Border – 118 (88 balls) – Australia vs Sri Lanka (28th Jan 1985)
The newbies of International cricket, Sri Lanka, faced the wrath of the Australian captain in the 1985 edition of the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup. An extremely somber start from the openers later, Allan Border joined able ally Dean Jones in the systemic demolition job of Sri Lankan bowlers.
Striking 10 fours and 3 sixes, the Adelaide faithful were given a batting exhibition unlike nothing by Border. An unbroken partnership of 224 runs with Dean Jones (who scored 99 runs of 77 balls), lead Australia to 323/2 at the end of 50 overs.
The Aussie openers collectively scored 85 runs of 143 balls, while this enterprising pair scored 238 runs of a mere 157 balls. They scored well over 120 runs in the last 10 overs of the innings, absolutely unfathomable in the 80s. Rohit Sharma would be proud.
#6 Viv Richards – 181 (125 balls) – West Indies vs Sri Lanka (13th Oct 1987)
Still a rookie team in 1987, Sri Lanka had the misfortune of coming across a determined Viv Richards. In the company of Desmond Haynes, King Viv dismantled the Sri Lankan bowling attack as West Indies hacked their way to then highest ODI score, 360/4 in their 50 overs.
The fans that had thronged to the Karachi National Stadium were given an exhibition of power-hitting as Viv Richards cracked 16 fours and 7 sixes (unprecedented in those days), dispatching bowlers to all parts of the ground.
His last 81 runs came of a mere 33 balls, and but for an untimely dismissal this could have very well been ODI cricket’s first ever double century, a good 23 years before it actually happened. Now, if that’s not an innings well ahead of it’s time.
Viv Richards was truly a pioneer of ODI batting.