A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
Australia went to their favourite ground in England, Trent Bridge, home of the 60 not out for their second game of the World Cup.
Here are the ratings for the World Cup match between Australia and the West Indies.
There was no secret to how the West Indies were going to approach this game. They won the toss, inserted Australia and proceeded to bowl short at them.
As with their game against Pakistan, it worked like crazy. Aaron Finch went first, caught behind from the bowling of Oshane Thomas.
Any thoughts that this may have been a brilliant captaincy ploy from Finch to get Usman Khawaja to the crease as close as possible to his preferred batting position of opener were soon discarded, almost as swiftly as Khawaja himself, who was out slashing wildly against Andre Russell, backing away after being struck on multiple occasions.
But the most remarkable wickets in the early onslaught were taken by Sheldon Cottrell, who after dismissing both David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, celebrated with a military salute.
Pretty shameful stuff from Cottrell. What’s wrong with the traditional method of celebrating the dismissal of a batsman by gesticulating furiously and screaming obscenities at them as loud as you can?
At 4/38, Australia were in deep trouble. It had been revealed earlier in the day that AB de Villiers had made himself available to come out of international retirement and play for South Africa in this World Cup, only to be knocked back.
Fair enough from the South African selectors, I guess, but their Australian counterparts were surely wondering if de Villiers could instead make himself available to play for Australia?
Of the four early wickets, it was Maxwell’s that seemed to most irritate Michael Slater in commentary. Slater could scarcely believe that Maxwell would attempt to counter-attack the West Indies bouncer barrage with a pull shot from his second ball.
This seemed curiously dismissive of the possibility that Maxwell might have been out playing such a shot first ball.
Nevertheless, Slater bellowed “The Big Show is a no show!” at the fall of the wicket, erroneously believing he was the first person to ever use that comedic reversal.
Later, as Steve Smith consolidated the innings by eliminating all risk from his batting, CricViz posted a graphic showing the assorted false strokes of the top order.
With his one from two effort, Maxwell led the chart at 50 per cent, but I truly believe that someday he’ll find a way to construct an innings with a false stroke percentage in excess of a hundred.
He’ll probably make a double century in the process.
As mentioned, amid the carnage of the early wickets stood Steve Smith. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed the ‘Smith has to do all the batting’ version of the Australian team.
He did receive an ever-increasing amount of help as the later order came in. Marcus Stoinis made 19 in a 41 run partnership. Then Alex Carey contributed 45 in a 68 run partnership.
But the key partner was Nathan Coulter-Nile who helped Smith lift Australia from 6/147 in the 31st over to 7/249 in the 45th.
Smith was dismissed just as he looked to accelerate by a remarkable Cottrell catch that saw him running, juggling and saluting his way around the edge of the boundary.
But Coulter-Nile continued on, batting like a modern version of Sachin Tendulkar. Which is to say that he slowed down the momentum of the entire innings as he approached his century.
Still, it’s difficult to be too harsh on Coulter-Nile who was in uncharted territory, making by far the highest score of his international career.
He was eventually out in the penultimate over, caught on the boundary by Jason Holder for 92 from just 60 balls.
A remarkable knock, but Coulter-Nile’s inability to convert fifties into hundreds must surely be beginning to become a concern for the Australian coaching staff.
Chasing 289 for victory, the West Indies were given a five-run head start when Mitchell Starc’s first ball went wide and to the boundary.
Except it wasn’t really a head start, because that’s also exactly what happened when Thomas bowled the first delivery of the Australian innings.
Wonderful sportsmanship from Australia to reciprocate the five-run innings gift. And to think that some fans are sceptical of their willingness to change.
Pat Cummins got Evin Lewis in his first over, before Starc had multiple attempts to dismiss Chris Gayle. He took the top edge that flew over the keeper. Then an outside edge that went through to the keeper. This was overturned on review when replays showed it had in fact hit the stumps rather than the bat. Then Starc had Gayle LBW, only for that to be overturned as well.
Caught. Bowled. LBW. No, no and no. Gayle was proving undismissable. What a cricketer.
Even when he was finally LBW to Starc, to an umpire’s call, later footage revealed that the wicket ball should have been a free hit after a massive uncalled no ball from Starc’s previous delivery.
This is easy to fix, surely. All reviews start with ‘check the front foot’. Why not also ‘check the previous ball’s front foot’ too?
Still, the lesson is, A. B. R. Always. Be. Reviewing.
Starc went on to take 5/46 from ten overs, as Australia somehow just found enough wickets at crucial times to peg back the West Indies chase.
It was a magnificent victory, almost as impressive in its way as my effort at 1:20am in finding enough mute buttons at crucial times to peg back a joint commentary stint of Michaels Slater and Clarke.
What I’m saying is that Australia had a lot of heroes last night.