England’s thumping win over India in the second ODI on Friday saw Ben Stokes steal the show with some outlandish ball-striking, but the foundations for the run-chase were set up by Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy.
By putting on 110 together, the England opening pair took their tally of century partnerships for the first wicket to 13 in just 43 innings. It’s of little wonder that they are widely regarded as the best ODI opening pair in the world at this current moment in time.
The pair average 61.60 as an opening partnership – among opening pairs to have batted together in at least 20 innings, they stand at the top of the pile. Only four other ODI opening pairs have more century stands than the England duo: Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (15 from 102 innings), Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden (16 from 114 innings), Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (16 from 109 innings), and Sourav Gangly and Sachin Tendulkar (21 from 136 innings).
What makes Roy and Bairstow even more remarkable is that, among opening pairs to have batted in at least 20 innings together, they also have the highest run-rate, operating at 7.02 runs an over. Right below them is the partnership of Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum who scored at 6.59 runs an over, but with a lesser average of 42.31.
Even if Bairstow and Roy enjoy a spectacular drop-off as an opening pair from here on in, it seems safe to say that they are already England’s greatest-ever ODI opening pair. Prior to the formation of the Bairstow-Roy axis, Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick held the England record for the most first-wicket century stands: from 43 innings, the same number as Roy and Bairstow, they put up four. Furthermore, while Ian Bell and Alastair Cook averaged a respectable 43.88 as an opening pair, their run-rate of 5.03 pales in comparison to that of Roy and Bairstow’s.
Alex Hales and Roy are the other England opening pair to have put on 1,000 or more runs together, and seemed on their way to cementing their place as greatest until Bairstow’s promotion. But their average partnership, run-rate, and rate of putting up big stands are all far inferior to that of Bairstow and Roy.
The pair seem to bring the best out of one another. Since Bairstow’s promotion to the top of the order in 2017, Roy has averaged 45.55 when he’s played in the same side as the Yorkshireman, five runs more than his career average. Bairstow himself has looked the part from day one as an ODI opener, with his record up there with the best in the world. England will be hoping the show rolls on for much longer.
Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match awards, player interviews, analysis and much more.