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  Friday, 6 April, 2001, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
On top of the one-day world
Michael Bevan
Michael Bevan: The world's best one-day batsman
by BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos

It would be easy to be seduced by Michael Bevan's outstanding record in one-day internationals and to believe that he is more machine than man - a relentless scorer or run after run after run.

But there is more, much more, to Bevan's contribution to the Australian one-day team than a total of 5,284 runs at an average of 57.43, with five hundreds and 35 fifties.

Hidden within those figures is the most valuable aspect to his game, that when it comes to the crunch he is the least likely member of the side to buckle under pressure.

Michael Bevan
On the way to a match winning 87 in Goa

His perfectly paced 87 not out in the victory against India in Goa was crucial to Australia not only because it came in the face of a stiff target of 266, but also because the sides were locked a 2-2 in a five-match series.

Having lost the Test series, Australia were in danger of leaving India empty-handed.

This coolness under pressure was evident in Bevan as long ago as 1994/95 when he played in his first major final for Australia, in the Wills Triangular Series involving Pakistan and South Africa.

Australia played Pakistan in the final and were boosted by Bevan's 53 not out from 42 balls to reach 269-5. They went on to win by 64 runs.

  Michael Bevan
159 matches, 5,284 runs (57.43)
v England: 362 runs (90.50)
v India: 927 runs (51.50)
v New Zealand: 516 runs (43.00)
v Pakistan: 742 runs (61.83)
v South Africa: 1,076 runs (48.90)
v West Indies: 697 runs (57.25)
v Sri Lanka: 530 runs (88.33)
v Zimbabwe: 419 runs (83.86)
v Kenya: 12 runs (12.00)
v Scotland: 11 runs (--)

It was a similar story in the Benson & Hedges World Series final against Sri Lanka the following year. In two matches, Bevan contributed 59 and 32 not out. With Australia winning both, there was no need to play the third scheduled final.

And so the Bevan story continues.

In the Carlton & United series final against England in 1998-99, he contributed a match-winning 69 not out in Sydney.

But undoubtedly his finest moments came in the past two World Cups, in which Australia would probably not have reached the final without him.

In the 1996 semi final against the West Indies, Australia were almost buried at 15-4 when Bevan first dropped anchor and then worked the ball around to score 69.

Michael Bevan
Bevan played a vital role in the World Cup win

Australia reached 207 and went on to win by five runs.

And in the final, against Sri Lanka, it was only when he struck out for 36 not out at the end of the innings that Australia reached a respectable 241-7, although Sri Lanka passed that mark with almost four overs to spare.

It was a more resilient Australia that won the 1999 World Cup, but they were still indebted to Bevan in the semi-final against South Africa when they were reduced to 68-4.

Crucially, Bevan did not panic.

He allowed himself 101 balls over his 65 runs, an innings so well timed that South Africa just ran out of steam when they replied, being dismissed with the scores level.

  PricewaterhouseCoopers one-day rankings
1 Michael Bevan (Aus)
2 Sachin Tendulkar (Ind)
3 Sourav Ganguly (Ind)
4 Jacques Kallis (SA)
5 Mark Waugh (Aus)

By virtue of having finished higher in the Super Six, Australia went through to the final where Bevan was not even needed to bat as Pakistan were beaten by eight wickets.

It is not just in close finishes and vital matches that Bevan's clarity under pressure can be witnessed.

The fact that he has ended not out in 49 of his 141 one-day international innings is testimony to his skill in attacking whilst not risking his wicket, and the realisation that you cannot score runs when you are back in the pavilion.

Michael Bevan
Bevan is adept at working the ball around

That single-minded dedication is also evident in Bevan's first-class career. His conversion rate from fifty to a hundred is also staggering - 64 fifties but 49 hundreds.

If his Test average is a disappointing 29.07 from 18 matches (he was found to have a weakness playing the short ball), his overall first-class average is similar to that for one-day internationals - 55.63.

Last year he made four scores of 150 or more in five innings for Sussex, the last of them a masterly 173 not out to hurry the county to a comfortable win against Middlesex in what had previously been a tight, attritional game.

Once again the statistics seem to have taken over, but of greater value than the volume of runs he scored during that purple patch was his contribution to the team.

With that innings against Middlesex, Sussex were propelled to the top of the second-division table.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | India v Australia
03 Apr 01 | India v Australia
02 Apr 01 | India v Australia
31 Mar 01 | India v Australia
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