We have just crossed the halfway point of the 2019 World Cup and we have witnessed some outstanding individual performances.
There are quite a few candidates for the batting performance of the tournament, with Eoin Morgan’s record century against Afghanistan the latest.
One the bowling front as well, there have been some impeccable efforts from world-class bowlers across teams.
While great performances with bat and ball will continue to pour in over the next few weeks, we might have already seen the ball of the tournament.
In the match between New Zealand and South Africa in Birmingham, the Kiwis bowled first and their seamers tried to make the most of overcast conditions. Left-arm seamer Trent Boult sent Quinton de Kock early but South African captain Faf du Plessis held fort.
With the Proteas approaching the 15-over mark with no further damage, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson produced the ball of the tournament to send Du Plessis back to the hut.
After bowling a quick bouncer, off the last ball of the 14th over Ferguson hurled a 92mph yorker at the base of Faf’s off stump and despite his best effort to block the delivery from the crease, the skipper lost his woodwork. The batsman tried but couldn’t even block the delivery.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Ferguson is the engine of the Kiwi bowling attack. The right arm pacer has been the quickest bowler across 10 overs in this World Cup and is already among the top wicket takers this tournament with 11 scalps.
Not only that, he has maintained an economy of 4.4. If he continues to fire on all cylinders, the Kiwis will be good as gold.
Australia will need to be on top of their game when they take on a dangerous and in-form Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup in Nottingham on Thursday.
Bangladesh sent out a major warning to all teams in the tournament as they chased down 322 against the West Indies with nearly 10 overs to spare.
The Tigers have already defeated South Africa and ran New Zealand close before losing.
Australia know the enormity of the task at hand. And the one name on everyone’s mind is Shakib Al Hasan.
THE SHAKIB FACTOR
Shakib has had a sensational World Cup so far, smashing two centuries and as many fifties. He has also picked up five wickets at an economy of less than six. He is easily the MVP of the tournament so far.
The balance he provides at No3 plus the control his left-arm spin gives to skipper Mashrafe Mortaza make him the most crucial member of the side.
Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey admitted his team must find ways to keep Shakib quiet across 100 overs on Thursday.
“We’ve obviously put our time into Shakib and all the players at the top of the order as well as their bowling,” Carey said on Wednesday.
“He’s in probably career-best form with the white ball. So we sort of know the areas and line and length we want to bowl to him and I guess out there we’ll assess the conditions as well.
“We leave that up to the bowlers and the captain to do that, but he’s one guy we want to get out early.”
The defending champions are in a great space at the moment. They have four wins out of five and the only defeat to India could have gone either way in a high-scoring match.
The batting line-up is in great nick and the bowlers – led by Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc – are as threatening as any in the tournament.
The only aspect of their game Australia will be thinking about is the inclusion of a spinner. They omitted both Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon from the playing XI that beat Sri Lanka in the previous match, but they have to make a frontline spinner a regular part of their campaign soon.
Also, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis could return after missing Australia’s last two matches with a side strain.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mustafizur Rahman
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon
Brain injury association Headway has raised fresh concerns about cricket’s response to head trauma following Afghanistan batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi’s decision to bat on after being hit on the helmet against England.
Hashmatullah turned his back on an 88mph bouncer from Mark Wood during Tuesday’s World Cup game at Old Trafford and was immediately felled after impact.
The 24-year-old revealed medical staff who assessed him in the middle advised him to leave the field but he declined, batting on for an extended period to top score for his side with 76.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway, finds it troubling that he was allowed to do so and suggested the decision should not lie with the individual.
He told Press Association Sport: “These comments are very worrying and again show a distinct lack of understanding about the dangers of concussion, as well as troubling insight into the lack of authority some team doctors seem to have.
“Players need to take the advice of doctors and adhere to the protocols, rather than follow a misguided sense of duty to their team-mates which could result in a serious, possibly lifelong, injury.”
McCabe added that it would impossible to complete a conclusive assessment in the middle of the game and advised extreme caution to be taken.
“The decision must be taken out of players’ hands. If the doctor advises the player to leave the field then they should promptly do so, there should be no debate whatsoever,” he said.
“We know that the signs and symptoms of concussion can be delayed in their presentation, which is why it is so important to take an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach to head injuries.”
Hashmatullah said after the match he did not want to worry his mother, who was watching the game on television, and did not want to let his side down.
As well as being potentially risky to his own health, that decision placed Wood in an invidious position too.
In a cricketing context the most obvious tactical ploy was to test Hashmatullah’s technique – and nerve – with more short-pitched bowling. Wood did just that, despite admitting initial anxiety over the batsman’s condition, with Hashmatullah gamely passing the examination.
“I was concerned when it first hit him. It was a bit of a bad blow,” said Wood. “You have to let the medical staff do their thing. Then it’s out of my hands. I checked he was all right himself, I said, ‘Are you okay?’ and then it was back into game mode.
“Morgy (England captain Eoin Morgan) wanted me to fire another few down, so if that’s what the captain wants you listen to orders. Once you know he’s all right it’s game time again.”
The International Cricket Council explained that any decision to remove an individual was a matter for the team, not the governing body.