For those who havenâ€™t heard, Surrey made a world record 496 in 50 overs at the Oval the other day. Of the six Browncap batsmen who took to the crease, none of them managed a strike rate lower than 100, with James Benning smashing 152 off a gluttonous 134 balls at 113.43, while Rikki Clarke thumped a palindromic 82 from 28. Ali Brown, the real star of the show, made 174 from 97. Whilst I am normally loathe to put so many figures in such little space, words donâ€™t quite adequately describe such feats.
The world record has now been broken twice in twelve months, after Sri Lanka punished the Netherlands to the tune of 443 last July. All of the top eight one-day scores have been recorded since 2002. In joint tenth, Somersetâ€™s 413 in 1990 took 10 overs longer than Indiaâ€™s equal score against Bermuda just over a month ago. In fact, the closer you look at the list, the more obvious the increase in scores over time seems. This latest World Cup, furnished as it was with slow, unpredictabe wickets, has not really demonstrated the trend. However, it is inescapable that the five hundred barrier, unthinkable as little as ten years ago, is now a mere boundary beyond our reach.
Is this the result of Twenty20? Maybe the annual encouragement to hit over the top has led to the translation of flamboyance to the other formats. Or maybe it has more to do with television and ECB officials pushing in the ropes to push up the interest in a format of the game that has suddenly started to feel a bit long? Of one thing we can be sure – there aren’t going to be many bowlers in favour of cutting them any shorter.