| NEHRA: A case in point
Johannesburg: Cricket is often said to be a batsman’s game but the bowlers at the World Cup have been doing their best to even things up.
So far, this World Cup has produced four of the ten-best bowling performances in the event’s history. However, crowds at one-day games, so the popular theory goes, want to gorge themselves on a never-ending diet of boundaries.
Not that the players themselves always like it that way.
England captain Nasser Hussain, whose side was the victim of Australia paceman Andy Bichel’s seven for 20, said it was good to see the bowlers on top for a change.
“You can’t have every game the same where 300 plays 280. It was nice to have a game where the bowler was in favour.”
Pitches have generally not been as firm as those typically found in South Africa.
That in turn has, where sides have been well-matched, made strokeplay more difficult. In day-night encounters at Cape Town and Durban, the side bowling second has been at an advantage with dew in the atmosphere aiding swing.
England experienced both sides of the day-night coin during their group A matches. In Durban, a superb spell of left-arm swing bowling by India’s Ashish Nehra sparked an 82-run England defeat.
But in Cape Town it was England’s turn to reap the advantages of bowling second, paceman James Anderson’s four for 29 spearheading a 112 run-win against Pakistan.
“These are not 300-plus wickets, 250-260 is very competitive,” said India captain Sourav Ganguly after Nehra’s haul.
But the only luck involved in Australia paceman Glenn McGrath’s World Cup record seven for 15 against Namibia was that a truly great bowler was given a chance against one of the weakest batting orders in world cricket.
Nevertheless, there’s no doubt one-day rules favour batsmen.