There were many things that stood out in the 2019 ICC World Cup with the immense success enjoyed by bowlers being one of them.
The tournament in England saw some fascinating contests between bat and ball, with the latter coming out on top on plenty of occasions.
Here, we cast our eye on the top five bowling spells from the World Cup:
Liam Plunkett (England)
3-41 v New Zealand
The brilliance of Liam Plunkett’s spell against the Kiwis was magnified by the occasion as it came in the final.
The Black Caps had recovered from the early loss of Martin Guptill through a threatening stand between Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, but Wood wrestled back the initiative for England in the middle-overs with a damaging second spell.
The England medium-pacer used the cross-seamed delivery to deadly effect at Lord’s to dismiss both set batsmen in his second spell, before returning to dismiss the dangerous James Neesham with the same method.
New Zealand’s batting never truly recovered from the dismissals of those three crucial batsmen.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
4-43 v England
Lord’s was lucky to witness some of the best spells of the tournament and it was hosts England who were on the receiving end when Mitchell Starc cranked up the heat.
The Aussie pace spearhead claimed two five-wicket hauls on his way to a record World Cup tally, but it was his showing against England that stood out.
With Australia attempting to defend a total of 285, Starc put the five-time champions on top against their arch-rivals with a devastating spell with the new-ball. He rattled the in-form Joe Root with a vicious inswinger before surprising Eoin Morgan with a menacing bouncer.
The hosts were threatening to recover from those early setbacks through a defiant innings from Ben Stokes, but Starc returned to shatter the stumps of the all-rounder with a toe-crushing yorker that was arguably the delivery of the tournament.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
6-35 v Bangladesh
While Pakistan had effectively been knocked out of the tournament at that point, Shaheen Afridi gave their fans something to cherish with a memorable display at Lord’s.
Afridi wreaked havoc on Bangladesh’s batting unit with a six-wicket burst and wrote his name into the record book in the process. His 6-35 are the best-ever ODI figures recorded by any bowler at Lord’s and he became the first teenager to claim a five-wicket haul at the ‘home of cricket’ in the process.
It ended up being the best figures in the tournament by any bowler and was made remarkable by the fact that it came from a 19-year-old pacer playing in his first World Cup campaign.
Matt Henry (New Zealand)
3-37 v India
India’s fans would have already been dreaming of the World Cup final when their team restricted New Zealand to 239 in the first semi-final at Manchester.
However, a complete shock lay in store for them and India’s star-studded batting unit on the reserve day with the Kiwi pacers running riot at Old Trafford.
It was Matt Henry who triggered India’s downfall with a stupendous opening spell with the moving ball that accounted for in-form openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Both batsmen had no clue as to what hit them with Henry hitting a dangerous line and length that gave them no hiding room.
Trent Boult removed Virat Kohli at the other end to hurt India further before Henry claimed his third wicket of the day by sending back Dinesh Karthik. Those vital top-order wickets left India in tatters and a brilliant counter-attacking innings from Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t enough to save their campaign in the end.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
4-41 v England
It was Sri Lanka’s shock win over England that blew the tournament wide open in the latter stages and it was all set up by a vintage display from Lasith Malinga.
The veteran pacer turned back the clock at Headingley with a rousing display that left the hosts in tatters in a modest run chase of 233.
Malinga trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for a golden duck before he found the outside edge of James Vince to give Sri Lanka a terrific start with the ball. England still managed to recover and were looking destined for a win, before Malinga returned to crush their hopes once again.
The 35-year-old snuffed out Joe Root’s innings before unleashing a trademark yorker that beat the dangerous Joe Buttler all ends up. Those two wickets turned the game on its head completely with Sri Lanka eventually wrapping up a famous win.
The 2019 World Cup will live long in the memory of cricket fans after the epic finale at Lord’s which saw hosts England clinch their maiden title in the most-extraordinary fashion.
The World Cup had been faced with criticism long before it began after the number of participating teams was reduced to 10 and it did face its hiccups in the tournament-stage as well, with several matches being wiped out because of rain without the provision of a reserve day.
However, despite its shortcomings, the 2019 World Cup proved to be one of the most exciting in recent history with several factors working for it.
Here, we take a look at the biggest positives from the tournament.
Even contest between bat and ball
Before the tournament began, all the talk had been about the 500-run barrier being broken in ODI cricket but none of that transpired in England.
While there were some big scores over the course of the tournament, even the 400-run mark was not breached in the end. Ultimately, it was a glorious throwback to ODI cricket of the 1990s and early 2000s with low-scoring encounters becoming a common theme once again.
The two semi-finals as well as the summit clash saw some pulsating cricket being played around totals below 250 with the latter being the perfect testament to what was a pretty even contest between bat and ball throughout the tournament.
Bowlers have a field day
ODI cricket had become heavily skewed in the favour of batsmen over the last few years or so, but bowlers were able to make a roaring comeback in the World Cup.
It wasn’t just the batsmen who made hay with several bowling records being broken along the way, including that of the highest wicket tally in a single World Cup edition.
The average run-rate in World Cups had been constantly increasing since the 2003 edition, but it dipped this time to 5.59 compared to 2015 when it was at 5.65.
It was a pure exhibition of the most menacing form of fast-bowling at times with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Jasprit Bumrah making the batsmen jump and hop to their tunes.
While some of the batting and bowling in the World Cup was top notch, the fielding wasn’t too far behind with some stunning catches being claimed all over the park.
From Ben Stokes’ one-handed grab in the tournament opener against South Africa to Sheldon Cottrell’s sublime effort at the boundary ropes to claim Steve Smith’s catch, there was no dearth of some sensational acrobatics in the field.
Smith was on the receiving end of another absolute stunner in the field in Australia’s clash against New Zealand where Martin Guptill pulled off an outrageous catch while fielding inside the inner ring.
All in all, the collection of best catches in the 2019 edition will take some topping in the future.
ODI cricket is still alive and kicking
With the advent of the T20s, one-day cricket had started to find itself in a weird spot between the shortest format and Tests with the popularity of the 50-over game taking a dip.
Many had feared for the future of ODI cricket but the reports of its demise seem greatly exaggerated after a tournament for the ages in England. With its abundance of nail-biting thrillers and low-scoring encounters, the 2019 World Cup has brought the 50-over format back into the spotlight.
Some of the skills displayed by batsmen, bowlers and fielders were nothing short of sensational with the momentum of a game changing in a matter of minutes. Seeing batsmen dominate the game had become a tad boring and the World Cup has come just at the right time to prove that the format still has a future.
Alastair Cook’s overriding feeling when watching England’s cricket World Cup final victory unfold was “disbelief”.
The 34-year-old, who retired from international cricket in September last year, could not watch all of the action as he was on County Championship duty, but he enjoyed the thrilling conclusion with his Essex team-mates.
Ben Stokes starred as England beat New Zealand on Sunday following a super over, and former Test captain Cook told PA: “It was amazing.
“I only watched the last hour-and-a-half really as we were playing for Essex, so to see that and share that excitement of England winning a World Cup amongst an Essex cricket team was fantastic.
“There was disbelief, disbelief at how a game of cricket after seven hours, eight hours can be a tie and still another tie, it was an incredible advert for the game of cricket.
“I was so happy for the England guys to win and obviously you feel a bit sorry for the New Zealand guys to lose by such fine margins. The way they handled that was spectacular.”
There was controversy when, in the last over, Stokes and Adil Rashid pushed for a second run when a throw from the boundary deflected off Stokes’ outstretched bat and away for four overthrows and six runs in total.
It has since been suggested that England should have only been awarded five runs, but Cook added: “I don’t make the rules and I don’t totally understand them, but it was a pure accident by Stokesy.
“He’s joked since that it was the only one he timed in the whole innings. It probably showed that we had the rub of the green, the luck of the Irish, it was just a fantastic way to finish.”
Former spin bowler Monty Panesar, who, along with Cook, was speaking at the premiere of cricket documentary The Edge charting the rise of the England Test team, hailed the strength of the current ODI squad.
He believes England will take the momentum into the Ashes later this summer, and said: “I didn’t play any white-ball cricket and when I played in 2007 we had a lot of weaknesses in our team, but this team just looks so strong.
“The two opening batsmen…if they produce a really strong partnership it allows all of the other batters to play with freedom, no fear, and that’s what I think Eoin Morgan has brought and it’s brilliant to see.
“All departments are really strong, I think England have set the benchmark in ODI cricket for all the other nations to follow. I don’t know if any nation can catch up with England at the moment.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen England be so dominant against Australia.
“I’m really looking forward to the Ashes because I’m hoping they can continue that form in red-ball cricket and keep dominating Australia because we always like to see Australia lose on English soil!”
Provided by Press Association Sports