Trent Bridge - A bowler’s nightmare

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Trent Bridge - A bowler’s nightmare

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Bastab K Parida

07/11/2018

It is that time when all the talks about the context-less ODI series will be put to the bed. As two of the best ODI outfits of the modern era will be pitted against each other, there will be a lot of subplots considering the World Cup in the same hosting country is less than a year away.

It is all the more meaningful now. Because the away team is not a Warner-less, Smith-less, Starc-less Australia that were battered and bruised completely. It is Virat Kohli’s India, one that has a 39-19 winning record since the 2015 World Cup, which is only bettered by England, who have a 46-19 win-loss record since their horrendous WC campaign. These are only two teams who have twice the number of wins than losses and are locking horns in a country which will host the upcoming World Cup. Talk about a better storyline.

The pitches in England have also flattened out considerably for white-ball cricket and that is the underlying theme with which the home team is going about their business in a bid to lift the World Cup in 2019. Even if the unpredictable UK weather throws up an oddball, expect Trent Bridge, which will host the first ODI between two teams tomorrow, to not throw an oddball. 

Considering that England changed their priorities for the limited-overs cricket after the debacle in the last World Cup, I have taken all my references and statistics post the quadrennial event only to establish how Nottingham has become the centre of England’s ODI showpiece. In the five ODIs at Trent Bridge ever since, they have some insane records at the venue, which was traditionally a bowler’s paradise. While the Eoin Morgan-led team once chased down 350 against New Zealand with six overs to spare, they twice broke the highest ODI record, scoring 445 against Pakistan and a mammoth 480 last month against Australia. It was not only England who have scored runs in a heap. These games have produced the second, third and fourth highest ODI match aggregates ever in England with the 2015 match against New Zealand producing scores of 763 runs. It was insane. But allow me to throw some more stats that have been produced at the venue in the last three years.

The square arena of Trent Bridge has the highest overall Runs per Over (RPO) - 7.26 - than any ground in the world which has at least hosted a minimum of two ODIs during the aforementioned duration and thus it hardly came as a surprise that England players’ highest strike-rate in any innings in ODIs was at Trent Bridge – Jos Buttler’s 293.77 (47* from 16 balls) against New Zealand in 2013 is being the highest. Two highest strike-rates in England during the period were also both in Nottingham - both held by Eoin Morgan - 67 runs off 30 balls at a strike rate of 223.33 against Australia, and 57* off 27 (211.11) against Pakistan.

Such has been the condition of wicket that it has almost boiled down to the fact that how many big hitters a team can accumulate and then you are sorted for the game. The game against Australia last month even led to Sachin Tendulkar blatantly criticising the usage of two new balls from both ends, calling it a "recipe for disaster", but tomorrow he will be in for another run-fest at the venue - the name of which has made the bowlers frightened about their future in the game.

While the wicket has undoubtedly been the most flattened one in the world at the moment, it has also partly enabled by an odd-shaped ground which pretty much seems like an American baseball field. Both these factors aid to the rise in the aggregate total at the venue and recently, the highest ever domestic List A match aggregate of 870 runs were scored in a match between Northants and Nottinghamshire. Two days after the game, Notts scored another mammoth total of 415 runs and the match aggregate of 794 runs was the ninth highest all-time List A match aggregate.

While England is sure not to drop the ball in the ODI series, or at least at Trent Bridge, India is also packed with bold and dynamic shotmakers, who are capable of mesmerizing the audience with wonderful strokeplay. Rohit Sharma has three double centuries and once Shikhar Dhawan gets going, he can be the most destructive opener out there. Virat Kohli is the ODI GOAT and expectgiving England bowlers a run for their money. 

Some might argue that it is bad for the game if a wicket produces such high scores. I concur. However, it is also a fact to be noted that it is a battle of equals and the team that will be able to put their wits at the place will come out triumphant. Expect a 350+ total and some bruised faces.

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