Last year the Australians suffered the ignominy of conceding the highest total in one-day international history, copping a battering to the tune of 6-481 against England. Since then the notion of a 500+ total has become a tangible concept rather than the thing of dreams.
Earlier this month England’s cricket board ordered a reprint of its fan scorecards for the World Cup, redesigning them to go up to 500 and fast-bowler Mark Wood described that mark as a “realistic target” and 400 as “easily gettable”.
You can count Gilchrist among the church of 500+ too, with the former wicketkeeper-batsman confident that mark will be reached in the next month and a half.
“I reckon it will definitely happen,” Gilchrist told foxsports.com.au at Fox Cricket’s World Cup launch. “Some of the ground sizes over there with fast outfields, there’s every potential that the record score England set against Australia will be broken.
“The effects T20 cricket is having on batsmen’s approach in this day and age, the varying field restrictions and powerplays, it’s all in the batsmen’s favour in that regard so I would expect there will be some really high scoring.”
While England is favourite to be the first passed the 500-run mark, Gilchrist believes India and Australia are both capable of achieving the feat.
“If Australia get themselves into the tournament with a settled line-up and get the confidence levels up, there’s no reason why they can’t do it,” he said.
Gilchrist was a part of Australia’s World Cup winning sides of 1999, 2003 and 2007 — a key man in an era which saw Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting’s outfits push the limits of what was possible in one-day cricket.
It was a period of success built on a sense of fearlessness among the batsmen. That lack of trepidation was in turn fostered by faith in those around them. It’s that same recipe for success that has seen England post high scores so regularly since the 2015 World Cup, according to Gilchrist.
Of the five scores above 400 since the last World Cup, four have been by England and the English comfortably have the highest run-rate (6.29) in that period.
“Posting a total like that is just about being uninhibited,” he said. “It’s about having no fear of any retribution if you fail or get out trying something.
“Fearless batting comes from confidence in everyone around you at every level. We (Australia) had a very formidable line-up batting and bowling through the prime of our one-day days and that’s what we were able to do.
“Knowing that there’s a lot of depth and a lot of firepower to come didn’t make you more reckless, but it certainly gave you the confidence to trust your judgment and be attacking.
“England are thriving on that confidence but the skill and talent is within the current Australian team as well to be able post a big total like that.
“India definitely are as venomous as any with the bat.”
Despite those expectations, Gilchrist maintains the tournament will still be decided with the ball — something he believes weighs in Australia’s favour.
“The best way to stem run scoring is to take wickets. I think the team that bowls the best is going to win the World Cup, not the team that scores the most runs across the tournament.
“There will be big moments at some stage where ball will have to dominate bat if you want to get the result. Our bowling line-up is well equipped for that thanks to the varieties we’ve got.”