As Jos Buttler thwacked his 150th run into the Grenadian sky, it was hard not to be in awe – not only of an innings of sheer ruthless brutality, but of the range of tricks displayed during a 77-ball showreel of rare carnage.
Only, it no longer rare and, in a sense, while the element of admiration remains, any shock factor has gone. For, quite simply, this is what Buttler does and this is what England do.
There were those who grumbled of an easy-paced pitch, of a lack of battle between bat and ball, of boundaries brought in, of the ease with which sixes were hit. But once again, that is what this England team does. That is what Buttler does, what Alex Hales does, what Jonny Bairstow does, what Eoin Morgan does. And then it was Chris Gayle’s turn – the first man to reach 500 international maximums.
To bemoan the run-scoring conditions is to play down Usain Bolt’s speed in an era of advanced footwear. There are straw-man arguments and then there are whatever that is. And while certain factors may have encouraged such hitting, the world was witnessing its very best exponents.
These were no ordinary sixes, nor were they hit by ordinary six-hitters. It is an era now beginning its fourth year and still it beggars belief. Perhaps, it is a sign of how pointless a one-day side England were previously, for whom every game was a chore, a contractual obligation, an exercise in unfulfilment. Perhaps, though, it is rather a sign of how magnificent this England side is.
It is not a transformation that requires much reaffirming; from the very brink of channel-changingly awful to unmissably brilliant.
Much of what needs to be said has been; that this England team faces a summer of destiny; that they have the chance to add World Cup glory to the legacy of England’s greatest one-day side; that those fortunate enough to have witnessed first-hand the 418 or the 444 or the 481 or the 408 or the 399 will never forget what their eyes were taking in.
There are plenty of fantastic batsmen throughout the world, some who possess records far better than many in England’s line-up. But there is no team that has matched its unconditional fearlessness.
That Morgan’s hundred went so unnoticed, both as it happened and as the game’s latter stages unfolded, seems almost absurd. On the day, given the exploits of Mark Wood and Adil Rashid with ball-in-hand, Morgan may well – in the minds of many – have produced England’s fourth best performance. It is a ludicrous thought.
Truthfully, however, there was arguably no knock more important than his. This is so much his team that the departure of Paul Farbrace as assistant head coach at the end of this tour is an inconvenience, but little more.
And when Morgan scores runs, the unfailing audacity of his side only continues to grow. He doesn’t just set the bar, but raises it.