31 and 2: Australia between two World Cups

Taking a look at Australia's ODI record since the last World Cup in 2017

The last time the Australian women lost two ODIs in a row was 2016. Just after Trump was inaugurated, around the birth of TikTok, and before all of us became amateur epidemiologists. They were already the world's best team before they went on a 26 match winning streak. Which was completely ridiculous, and I don't know who could beat them.

If you just look at them since the last world, it's just the 31 wins compared to two losses.

Two losses in a World Cup cycle. Just remarkable winning, in a game that while it's more set up for the best team to win than T20, to succeed in that many games is just wrong. It should be against the law.

This is their win-loss ratio; Bangladesh won 50% of their matches. The teams in green lose more than 50% of their matches.

South Africa have an excellent record. They're toying with three wins to every loss. That should be good enough for first place at times, and at the least should have them in the conversation for best team. There is no conversation though, because Australia are so much better than everyone else having the conversation is a waste of jaw movement.

And there are a couple of ways I like to look at that; the first is average per wicket with what they allow with the ball and subtract what they make with the bat.

Australia make more than 20 runs per wicket than they allow. That is entirely bonkers.

You might be thinking that this is an ODI, so run rates may be better. Well they are 1.3 runs per over in the positive.

So for every ball they are faster .22 runs better than their opposition. That's 65 runs an innings in total they are faster than their opposition.

And that is why you put on down like this it looks so very dramatic. They are per over, per wicket, just absolutely dominating the teams they play. And this is who they have played in that time.

They have managed not to go up against South Africa, but the majority of their games are from the three of the best five teams. They are this good against proper teams; this isn't them cashing in on an easy schedule; like imagine if the majority of their games were against the teams at the other end.

They have four of the top ten in terms of average in batting average, though curiously none in the top three.

But to have four players averaging over 48, that is just remarkable.

This is a podcast with Annesha Ghosh on Meg Lanning. One of my favourite cricketers.

But averages are obviously just part of the story again. So when you look at strike rates, you get a better idea of the fact that while many women are making runs, at the top end is two Aussies and then daylight.

In fact, it's here you see how quick they are compared to most. But let's see the full picture.

So when you look at it this way, it's just clear that this team is taking the absolute piss with the bat.

It is obscene to have four players averaging over 40, one of them with the second-best strike rate, two others with a healthy one. There can't be many sides with that stable a top-order available to them. Oh, and they have the person with the strike rate so high it looks like she is leftover from a previous graph.

But while those strike rates are good, it's really the amount of runs they have managed to squeeze out of five women. Between World Cups, their batting has been so consistent in terms of averages, fine, that's great. But also they have played so much. Australia have a plug and play five stars with the bat, and between them they have made 75% of the runs.

Three quarters. They don't fail. They don't miss games. They just produce.

If you are feeling dizzy, I don't blame you, and we haven't got to the bowling yet. Low averages and econ are common in the women's game. But the Australians are still absolutely slaughtering on this.

My favourite bit from this is that Megan Schutt has gone an entire World Cup cycle averaging 17, and Joss Jonassen has her beat by a full two runs.

Look at them at the pointy end here, taking wickets, going for new runs and on their own.

And if you need a refresher, here is Megan Schutt bending the ball like she's Neo and it's the spoon. And remember, she has the second-best figures.

But I just want to go back to something else on the bowling list here. Their third and fourth-best heavy usage bowlers are Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner. And of course, both of them are over on the batting average too.

They are both all rounders. You can see them over on the list of the highest-scoring batters as well.

And this position does Gardner a disservice.

She is scoring at a third quicker than all women's cricket.

Sure, she has a rough average, but her job is to come in and smash it when everyone else has already made lots of runs. And she does that so much better than any other woman in the game.

As far as all rounders go, only five have more than 30 wickets and 500 runs in this cycle.

Having two of them is an unfair advantage when you already have the two best bowlers, five of the safest batting options, and the fastest scorers.

Perry is actually in a batting slump since the last World Cup, she's averaging 48. In the previous cycle from over 40 games she averaged 79.

Every third innings she was not out. She has made up for this shocking form with the bat by dropping eight runs a wicket off her average in this current cycle. So she's still the world's best all rounder, just a different shape than before.

So with all I have said so far, it is hard to think of a more dominant cricket team over a six-year period. But despite only losing seven games since the start of 2016, one of them was a doozy. When Harmanpreet Kaur knocked them out of the semi-finals of the last World Cup.

It is actually pretty funny, there can't have been many teams in world sport with a better win-loss percentage than them in the last six years, but one of the few times they lost, it actually mattered.

Harmanpreet went right at the bowlers who are still dominating now. She destroyed Jonassen, Schutt and Gardner that day.

It was only Ellyse Perry who kept her to under a run a ball, just. But then their batters fell apart. None of Healy, Lanning and Mooney passed 15. Perry made 39, and the only reason they got close was incredible hitting from Ellyse Villani and Alex Blackwell.

Outside of Perry, not one of their stars from this cycle stood up that day.

I was at that game, I remember Lanning and Mott looked shocked at the press conference. Like they had seen a ghost. But Alex Blackwell in her book talks about how backwards they were in terms of tactics at that point. And it wasn't even their only surprise loss. They were defeated in 2016 in a shocking upset at the T20 World Cup.

They still had the best talent, that is clear from looking at records at the time and even now, but they weren't a very smart team. And two incredible innings from Hayley Matthews and Kaur destroyed them. But since then they have won back to back T20 World Cups, and the whole, 26 games on the trot thing. They were good before, and they are so much better now.

I checked the odds just to see what the bookies thought. And the bookies think they have already won. The best money you can get is evens. They're 8/11 and 4/6 on others. If you've never bet, putting t ten dollars on The Australians to win this World Cup at 8 to 11 means you would get only 17.23 back if they won. Those are the sort of odds you get on a team going up against a slightly less fancied side. The Australians are going up against the field.

Since Harmanpreet's innings, Australia has lost two matches. In 2017, they had a huge collapse when it seemed they would chase 284 in a DLS game and fell 20 runs short. And they lost a game at the start of this summer when the Indians tail rallied well to win the game in the last over with two wickets in hand.

They were in front in both of those matches and still took them pretty close. I would look into their other losses if they had any. If you look back a bit further than that, they also lost two close games to New Zealand and England. The latter was in that same World Cup they lost to India. So maybe, if you can possibly hang with them, you can beat them.

But they score twice as many runs per wicket as they allow, and are 1.3 runs an over quicker than their opposition. Teams struggle to hang with them.

There will be pressure on the Australians to win this World Cup, because everyone expects them to win. But the only way to put pressure on them is for your side to somehow dismiss the five batters who never do, score quicker than the two fastest, and not be dismissed by their two outstanding strike rates. As far as game plans go, it's not ideal.

New Zealand recently beat them in a warm-up. So, if nothing else, there is hope.

A while back I did this podcast with Raf Nicholson on the story of the first World Cup. The entire thing was crazy, from the fact it was basically two people who got the entire thing going, it happened before the men, and it kinda sorta had a South African team.