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Cricket World Cup 2019

Bairstow stakes his claim as England’s greatest ODI opener

Jonny Bairstow has only played 46 matches as an opener in ODIs so far but he if he retires right now, he might well end up as England’s greatest ever ODI opener. After a second hundred in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019 against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street, Bairstow now has 462 runs in the World Cup at an average of 51.33. He has also shot past Virat Kohli in the top run getters list and has been striking runs at a rate very close to 100.

Bairstow first opened the innings for England in ODIs in the Champions Trophy 2017 clash against Pakistan – a game which saw England being dumped out of the tournament. Opening the batting, Bairstow made 43 in that low scoring game and was England’s second highest run scorer in the match. He opened again in the ODI against West Indies in September that year and made an unbeaten hundred. Since then, Bairstow has displaced Alex Hales as England’s no.1 ODI opener and has only ever batted at the top in ODIs for England.

Since the Champions Trophy, Bairstow has 2101 runs at an average of 52.52 and a strike rate of 112.05. He is the third highest run scorer in this period after Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Bairstow has struck nine hundreds in these two years and alongside Jason Roy, his partner, is the only batsman in the top 10 run getters list to strike at over run-a-ball.

The approach of Roy and Bairstow has allowed England’s middle-order to cut loose consistently. The two stitched together their third successive century partnership in the World Cup in the match against New Zealand. Having made 128 and 160 against Bangladesh and India respectively, the two put on 123 for the opening wicket at Chester-le-Street.

Roy and Bairstow are England’s most successful opening pair of all time in this format. The two have 2099 runs in 31 innings at the top with an average of 67.7 and ten century stands. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell – the second best in this category – are a far cry from the current England openers.

Despite Roy missing more than 3 games in this World Cup so far, Bairstow and Roy are the fourth most successful pair with 424 runs in 5 matches as a pair. They average over 80 and have three century stands in five games.

Bairstow is also the most ferocious England opener of all time. While he is still ninth in the list of run scorers for England in ODIs as opener, his average and strike rate are the best ever in their limited-overs history keeping a basic filter of 10 innings at the top. The batsman has 2144 runs of his in ODIs from an opening position and averages 52.29 while striking at 110.97. Both Roy and him have nine centuries each as openers.

The terrific approach that the Yorkshire batsman has at the top has allowed England’s middle order batsmen to settle down and attack. The run rate is always soaring with Bairstow at the crease and the fact that he has already pushed to become the best ever ODI opener for England shows how good the wicket-keeper batsman has been in two years of opening the batting.

Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket journalist stuck in a love-hate live-in relationship with the game. To rile him up, mention the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Rohit has been writing about cricket for well over 10 years now, and has written for a variety of news and sports outlets over this time.

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