Bowlers enjoy a Cup breather
With the World Cup taking a time out from matches on Monday, the tournament's bowlers had a welcome chance to lick their wounds.Updated: Feb 17, 2003 16:59 IST
With the cricket World Cup taking a time out from matches on Monday, the tournament's bowlers had a welcome chance to lick their wounds.
The batsmen have certainly held the upper hand in the first 14 matches, with seven meaty centuries.
The bowlers, in response, have managed a mere three five-wicket hauls, all against minor sides.
To put the batting into context, there were only 11 hundreds in the entire 1999 World Cup and there are still 38 games to go before the 2003 final.
Craig Wishart's 172 not out off 151 deliveries against Namibia in Harare is the highest score so far, the Zimbabwean finishing just 22 runs short of the one-day world record.
But for sheer quality under pressure, the performances of Andrew Symonds (143 not out), Stephen Fleming (134 not out), Brian Lara (116) and Sanath Jayasuriya (120) stand out.
Symonds, something of a fringe player, had only scored two fifties in 38 one-day innings for Australia when he walked out to the crease against Pakistan at the Wanderers a week ago, with the world champions wobbling on 86 for four.
He walked off to a standing ovation from his team mates 125 balls later.
Fleming's innings came against South Africa in a game New Zealand could not afford to lose.
Dropped off a simple chance on 53, he kept his composure to win the game with an innings he called "the best of my career...there was a lot on the line". Herschelle Gibbs's 143 earlier in the game had been quickly eclipsed.
Lara's century, meanwhile, came after a long run of injuries. It also came in a pressure-cooker first game of the tournament in Cape Town, again against South Africa.
Jayasuriya also made his 120 against the New Zealanders in a key match at Bloemfontein. Scott Styris responded with 141 for the Kiwis in a losing cause.
Significantly, Jayasuriya's is the only century yet posted by an Asian batsman at the tournament.
The likes of Sachin Tendulkar -- despite 33 one-day tons to his name -- and Rahul Dravid of India, and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana appear have failed to spark so far.
So have many of the top bowlers, despite South Africa's pitches offering them pace and bounce.
Leg spinner Shane Warne, of course, had no choice, returning to Australia after failing a drugs test for diuretics.
Canada's Austin Codrington took the first five-for against Bangladesh before Sri Lankan left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas, a man with a taste for records, took an unprecedented hat-trick with the first three balls of the match on his way to six for 25, also against Bangladesh.
Wasim Akram, on the brink of 500 one-day wickets, followed that up with five for 28 against Namibia in Kimberley on Sunday.
Namibia and Bangladesh, though, are not exactly giants fo the game.
Few bowlers have done major damage to what might be termed a front-line batting line-up.
Veteran South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald is struggling, with just one wicket for 106 runs, while Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis, in his one spell, managed two against Australia but saw his 8.3 overs clattered for 50.
As so often, the only exceptions carry Australian passports.
Jason Gillespie's three for 13 off 10 overs against India was a truly breathtaking performance, complimented by Brett Lee's awesome three for 36 in the same game and the always miserly contributions of the experienced Glenn McGrath.
Gillespie has four wickets at an average of 10.25. Bowling against Pakistan and India, he gave away just 2.27 runs an over and no batsman at the 2003 World Cup has so far come anywhere near mastering the world champions' three-pronged pace attack.
First Published: Feb 17, 2003 16:59 IST