With totals of 280-plus becoming the norm quick runs will be vital at World Cup.

The prestige of New Zealand cricketers raising their bats when they reach a one-day international century risks losing its lustre if they dawdle this summer.

Quick runs are more important than big runs is part of the team mantra as the aperture narrows on the World Cup.

The "nervous 90s" might soon morph into the "narcissistic 90s" if players sacrifice deliveries rather than their wicket, particularly in the latter stages of an innings with batsmen to come.

As an example, strike rates were more of a priority than averages in the 50-over games on the New Zealand "A" tour of England. The same emphasis will be placed on the 17 ODIs in the United Arab Emirates and at home pre-tournament.


An analysis of the World Cup venues by the New Zealand team's management suggests totals exceeding 280 will be mandatory in February and March to progress in the tournament.

Once the rarity of an ODI century evoked jubilant celebration. Now, with three ODI double hundreds and centuries common place in the T20 format, their impact in 50-over cricket is diluted.

New Zealand has scored 43 ODI centuries since the powerplay rules for fielding restrictions were bolstered in July 2005. Of those innings, 27 came in winning causes of which 15 (56 per cent) were scored at better than a run a ball; the other 16 were made in losing causes where only five (31 per cent) bettered a 100 strike rate. The value of traditional statistics such as averages continues to wane. Situational batting is key.

Middle-order closers like BJ Watling and Colin Munro earned kudos with strike rates above 135 on the "A" tour to England because they coped under pressure in the death overs.

Former New Zealand coach John Bracewell referenced it recently on cricinfo.com when discussing Nathan Astle, whose 16 ODI centuries remain a national record. "While he scored a high percentage of hundreds, he was slowing down when he got to 70.

"Basically it was his job to continue at the same rate. Once we got through the Powerplay, we had players that he needed to trust were going to score quickly anyway. So his job wasn't to slow down. It was to accelerate. He therefore became expendable to the total cause, and that creates challenges in itself: Another hundred from me, or get out trying to get 300 for the team? That always becomes the dilemma."

Bracewell reiterated similar principles to those New Zealand are pursuing: statistics towards the result rather than statistics towards your individual career.

Players also need to be wary of slow starts. Martin Guptill's two runs off 29 balls on his way to 81 last summer against the West Indies in Nelson is a case in point. Fortunately he had the support of the top order around him to maintain a tempo which got New Zealand to 285 for six during inclement weather.


On that occasion the anchor role worked but is not always a safe plan, given the limited number of balls and myriad short boundaries on offer this summer.

Most balls to get to a century in ODIs
166 - David Boon, Australia v India, Hobart, 1991/92
157 - Rameez Raja, Pakistan v West Indies, Melbourne, 1991/92
156 - Geoff Marsh, Australia v England, Lord's, 1989
152 - Rameez Raja, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Adelaide, 1989/90
152 - Scott Styris, New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Grenada, 2006/07

Since the introduction of powerplay blocks in July 2005:
New Zealand's slowest ODI centuries
Player, Runs, Balls, Strike rate, Opposition, Year, Result for NZ
Scott Styris 111* 157 70.70 Sri Lanka 2007 Loss
Stephen Fleming 106 149 71.14 England 2007 Loss
Kane Williamson 108 132 81.81 Bangladesh 2010 Loss
Martin Guptill 103* 123 83.73 England 2013 Win
Ross Taylor 100 117 85.47 England 2013 Loss

New Zealand's fastest ODI centuries
Player, Runs, Balls, Strike rate, Opposition, Year, Result for NZ
Corey Anderson 131* 47 278.72 West Indies 2014 Win
Jesse Ryder 104 51 203.92 West Indies 2014 Win
Kane Williamson 100* 69 Zimbabwe 2011 Loss
Lou Vincent 172 120 143.33 Zimbabwe 2005 Win
Jacob Oram 101* 72 140.27 Australia 2007 Loss