England pulverise the Dutch to set new world-record ODI score - 500 is only a matter of time

·6-min read
Jos Buttler smashes the ball for six - GETTY IMAGES
Jos Buttler smashes the ball for six - GETTY IMAGES

“Boring, boring England” they sung. It was a few minutes after three o’clock in Amstelveen, and Liam Livingstone just hit the penultimate ball for four, thereby depriving England of a chance of cricketing immortality by striking the first-ever total of 500 in a 50-over game. Livingstone, as if to apologise, promptly launched the final delivery over the midwicket ropes.

No 500, then, but England would have to content themselves with 498-4 - the highest ever total in either one-day international or List A cricket. It is entirely in keeping with the journey of England’s limited-overs side since 2015 that they broke their own record for the highest ever ODI total, set against Australia four years ago. Jos Buttler, who came just one ball shy of setting a new record for fastest 150 in ODIs when he got there in 65 balls, also set what you suspect is another record: most balls lost in an ODI innings. Buttler lost nine - each costing the Dutch cricket board about €120 apiece, adding up to over $1,000 - off his blade.

It was, even by Buttler’s standards, a remarkable display of controlled violence, brilliant in its brutality, taking advantage of pristine batting conditions at the VRA ground, a sumptuous day and a depleted Netherlands bowling attack. Even allowing for these advantages - and benefiting from a misjudgement in the deep and then a drop catch on 17 and 37 - it as a snapshot of what he can unleash when deployed at No 4, rather than the No 6 position he has normally batted in. He is now the proud owner of England’s three fastest ODI centuries, this 47-ball ton resting snugly between his centuries against Pakistan in Dubai and Southampton.

Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone celebrate - GETTY IMAGES
Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone celebrate - GETTY IMAGES

And yet Buttler was merely the most spectacular of England’s three centurions. Phil Salt’s 122 - his maiden ODI century, underpinned by wonderful straight drives - added to his case to be England’s long-term heir to Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow. Dawid Malan, perhaps English cricket’s forgotten man, overturned an lbw decision on 25 and then cruised to a 90-ball century. In the process, he joined Buttler and Heather Knight as the only England players to score international centuries in all three formats of the game. 

But dismissing Malan, immediately followed by Dutch captain Pieter Seeler trapping his opposite number Eoin Morgan lbw first ball, was the prelude to even more carnage. Liam Livingstone is not a cricketer who needs a platform of 407-4 in the 45th over to invite pyrotechnics; after his 122-metre straight six off Hairs Rauf at Headingley last year, he must have eyed VRA’s altogether more inviting boundaries with glee. After taking a solitary ball to play himself in, Livingstone promptly bludgeoned 32 off an over from leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain - the most England have ever scored in an ODI over. By conceding 108, Boissevain could be considered the fourth centurion of the England innings.

Liam Livingstone bludgeons the Dutch bowling attack - GETTY IMAGES
Liam Livingstone bludgeons the Dutch bowling attack - GETTY IMAGES

Livingstone just missed out on scoring the fastest ever ODI half-century - another record that AB de Villiers could cling onto after Buttler’s assault on his 150 record - but smote six sixes in his 22-ball 66, scoring England’s fastest ever 50 in the process.

As his punchdrunk side trouped off, Seelar’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss, which briefly seemed vindicated when Shane Snater bowled his cousin Jason Roy for one in the second over, was safely established as Dutch one-day cricket’s equivalent of Nasser Hussain at Brisbane in 2002. Seelar’s cause was not helped by the absence of seven leading Dutch players, including six bowlers, largely because counties were reluctant to release their players, severely hampering the Netherlands ahead of their highest-profile home series in history.

For now, a total of 500 in ODI cricket remains what the four-minute mile was to athletics before Roger Bannister’s run in Oxford in 1954. But, you suspect, this England side will soon reassemble for a renewed assault - even, perhaps, as soon as Sunday.

The sport evolves and the standard rises

By Scyld Berry

It was only appropriate that Liam Livingstone miscued or “clothed” the penultimate ball of England’s innings against the Netherlands, so that it went for four not six. In the current climate where anything seems to be possible for English batsmanship, their ODI team deserved to set a world record for the highest total - but not to be the first ever to scale the Everest of 500.

This first of three ODIs in Amstelveen was Men v Boys or, more specifically, international cricketers against a combination of players of first-class and Minor County (now National County) standard. It showed especially in the home side’s fielding: the catch that was put down at long-off before Jos Buttler rampaged to the second fastest 150 ever was as straightforward as can be. A Dutch drop of calamitous proportions.

So the exhibition should be enjoyed as a fantastic feat of hitting in the context in which it was staged. Phil Salt, the first of the three century-makers, is an extraordinary talent - and he was playing within himself, to cement his place.

The 50-over format has always been Dawid Malan’s best in county cricket but so richly endowed are England now with white-ball batsmen that he had played only seven ODIs before this one. If only he had been equally successful in Test matches...

Buttler, rested after a break from the IPL, scored the second-fastest ODI hundred for England - second only to his own record. The power of his bottom hand is unique, or so it seemed until Livingstone entered and scored even faster: 66 off 22 balls would have led him to the fastest of all ODI centuries if he had been given the time.

One lesson of this story: when the weather is as hot as it presently is, and the pitch is flat, and the boundaries are as short as they are in Amstelveen, and you win the toss - only if you want to be grilled, roasted and toasted do you want to bowl first against superior opposition.

And secondly, who are England going to leave out of their white-ball batting line-ups when Jonny Bairstow is ready to slot back in, and a chap called Stokes? Surely Salt should not be dropped: in his few previous England appearances as an opener he has shown the ability to run down the pitch in the opening over and throw the bowler off his stride and length from ball one.

And thus this sport evolves and the standard rises.