A batsman’s game in which 400 has become the new 300
Back in 2007 when India posted 413 against Bermuda in the Cricket World Cup many thought Bermuda did not belong there.
However, eight years later, teams are posting 400 more frequently. In this World Cup, we have already witnessed the milestone being reached three times.
Basically, what India did against Bermuda was to show the world the direction cricket was heading: you saw paddle shots, reverse sweeps and a variety of peculiar cricket strokes. What people did not realise was that this was the start of something new.
Some may argue that the field-restriction rule change from five fielders being allowed outside the 30-metre inner circle to four has been a major factor, which it has. But the reality is that cricketers, particularly batsmen, have become craftier, thus taking batting to another level.
South Africa scored 408 runs against West Indies, then five days later they made 411 against Ireland. The tone was set for Australia to break the World Cup record, with 417 against Afghanistan — surpassing India's day of carnage in Port of Spain.
What are batsmen doing these days that they never used to do? They are moving either on to off stump or backing outside leg as the bowler is about to bowl; they are also backing deep into their crease to change the length of the ball.
I can recall when Tillekeratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka batsman, came out with what is now called “Dilscoop”, where he moves across to off stump and scoops the ball over his own head and the wicketkeeper towards the fine leg area. When he first did this, onlookers were astonished.
Since Twenty20 cricket came to the mainstream, thus making the game a spectator's game, with a focus on entertainment, batting has gone to new levels.
Often you hear guys say, “Why doesn't the bowler bowl a yorker”, but in today's artistry of batting, batsmen are backing deep into their crease and turning normal yorker length into a half-volley.
Another good ball to bowl in a limited-overs game is a low full toss on off stump. This ball is designed to make it difficult for the batsmen to hit you for a boundary, particularly a six.
However, if you saw AB de Villiers, of South Africa, batting against West Indies, he walks way on to off stump and gets into a low, crouching position and hits the low full toss for six or four into the square leg boundary.
His timing is immaculate — a very high degree of skill.
What we are witnessing from today's batsmen is like nothing we have ever seen.
There have been some great batsmen in the past, such as David Gower, Steve Waugh, Javed Miandad, Dean Jones and Jacques Kallis. However, they were all more traditional-style batsmen.
The game has evolved so much that one can only wonder how good they would be if they were playing in this era with all the new technology and skill levels.
I often wonder how the great bowlers of yesteryear would have made out today; Curtly Ambrose and Michael Holding, in particular.
Given their quality of pace with accuracy, I would have loved to have seen if De Villiers could do to them as he has done the present West Indies bowling attack — and most others, for that matter.
This tournament has made me realise just how much work Bermuda needs to do to get back to that level. It will take years of sacrifice and commitment.
The coaches among us have to continuously educate ourselves with innovative methods and techniques so that our players are not left behind.
There is a vast amount of work to be done to improve our standards, but nothing is impossible.
It may take years, but we have to be optimistic and believe. Belief is the key ingredient for future success.