Cricket World Cup 2019: Short-ball ploy a hit but green-tops a miss in opening week

Ajit Vijaykumar 20:24 05/06/2019
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West Indies bombarded Pakistan with short balls.

The opening week of the 2019 World Cup has seen some enthralling action already with scores ranging from 348 to 105. Bowlers have enjoyed bowling on some of the more helpful surface while batsmen also have been provided the opportunity to score.

Hosts England made a good start to the World Cup but fell short against a re-energised Pakistan while South Africa had a horror first two games to go with a lengthening injury list.

India played their first match of the tournament nearly a week after the games began, while Bangladesh and Australia made strong starts.

Every week, we will look at decisions and strategies that hit the mark or missed in England over the summer. Here are our picks from the opening week.

SHORT-BALL STRATEGY

They said it was going to be a 350-400 run World Cup. Bowlers would be reduced to bowling machines who can talk. But overcast conditions and some world-class bowlers have balanced the contest in England.

West Indies gave every team a template to work on this World Cup by blasting away Pakistan on a decent pitch in Nottingham. Andre Russell in particular bowled three overs of pure venom, giving hardly anything to drive. Oshane Thomas and the rest of the bowlers picked up from there and it continued in subsequent matches.

Australia quicks used the short stuff to restrict a spirited Afghanistan batting line-up. In fact, according to ESPNcricinfo, of the first 54 wickets to fall this World Cup, 23 were by deliveries that were short.

That’s not to say every short-ball barrage worked. Jofra Archer struggled to control the short ball against Pakistan and threw down multiple wides. Still, if the wicket is flat, fast bowlers know that a well-directed bouncer has an excellent change of resulting in a wicket, maybe more so than a slower one.

GREEN-TOPS IN CARDIFF

Two matches have been held in Cardiff so far and with Sri Lanka appearing in both. The matches with New Zealand and Afghanistan were played on green-tops with seamers having a field day in overcast conditions.

In the first game, the Kiwis blew away Sri Lanka for 136 while in the second game, the Sri Lankans had to fight tooth and nail to beat the Afghans by 34 runs after struggling to their score of 201. The ball jagged around throughout the match and that is not what you need in a World Cup.

Cardiff will host two more matches – England v Bangladesh and South Africa v Afghanistan. It is unfair that just these team have to contend with the vagaries of Cardiff. While we all want to see a decent contest between bat and ball, watching teams battle to reach 200 is no fun.

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