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Four of the Greatest Spells in the world cup history

Before the Cricket World Cup 2019 commences, let’s turn back the clock and have a look at four of the greatest bowling spells in the history of the World Cup cricket.

Ritik Goel
Last updated: 30.04.2019
Four of the Greatest Spells in the world cup history | Sports Social Blog

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"Batsmen set the game up for you, it's your bowlers who win you the game."

You may win a game by doing quite a few things right. However, if you can pick up wickets at crucial stages of the game, you give yourself a great chance. There are only a few things as precious as destructive bowling spells.

When you are playing a high-octane tournament like the World Cup, you want your bowlers to be in top-notch form and raring to go. If your bowlers don’t leave any stone unturned, you are likely to be on top of your game.


ICC Cricket World Cup is barely a month away. With the IPL 2019 at its business end, everyone is gearing up for the cricket’s biggest carnival. It is expected to be a real blockbuster with all the teams playing each other least once and any team can pip the other one on its day. Hence, players will have to play out of their skins.

With all the teams having ferocious ball-strikers, the bowlers will have to put on an absolute show to deliver in what is expected to be a high-scoring World Cup owing to flat pitches in England and Wales.

So, before the tournament commences, let’s turn back the clock and have a look at four of the greatest bowling spells in the history of the World Cup cricket.

These performances are not in any particular order.

1. 5/14 - Glenn McGrath v/s the West Indies in the 1999 World Cup

McGrath is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers to have graced the game. He was more about immaculate line and length than pace but this skill of his was good enough to give nightmares to most batsmen. McGrath entered this particular contest under some pump as he claimed that he would bamboozle one of the best batsmen going around- Brian Lara.

Prior to this game, Australia had suffered embarrassing defeats at the hands of New Zealand and Pakistan. They needed to win this game to stay in the tournament. McGrath blossomed under pressure as he toppled the West Indies batting line with an unbelievable spell of 5/14 in just 8.4 overs. He picked up three early scalps, reducing the West Indies to 20-3. Brian Lara as McGrath claimed got an almost unplayable delivery and the prince of Trinidad found the furniture behind him disturbed. McGrath came back into the attack a few overs later and did not allow the tail to wag as the West Indies were bowled out for a meager 110.

It required guts to make such a statement before a big game and only an Australian could have done it. This turned the Australian campaign on its head and they went on to the win the World Cup 1999.

2. 6/14 and 5/48 - Garry Gilmour in back to back matches in the 1975 World Cup

Garry Gilmour is not the most renowned name in world cricket. He had a five-match ODI career but he did manage to do something memorable. He was the twelfth-man in most of the matches of the 1975 World Cup for Australia. He got his opportunity quite late and that too in the Semi-Final clash against England. England had prepared for Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson but their test came out of the syllabus. On a green top at Headingly, this youngster blew England away.

He bowled 12 overs without a break to end up with the figures of 6/14 and England was all out for 93. His in-swinger was particularly lethal as it dismissed five English batsmen. This was the first time, a bowler had picked up six wickets in a One-Day International.

It was quite a tactic by the captain Greg Chappel to pull off a surprise package in such a massive game and Gilmour rose to the occasion. His Man-of-the-match performance helped Australia to make it to the final.

Gilmour continued with his wonderful form in the Finals against the mighty West Indies as he claimed 5/48. However, this time, it was not quite good enough to cease the West Indies from lifting their second successive World Cup title.

Surprisingly, Gilmour played not more than one ODI for Australia after that final.

3. 6/23 - Ashish Nehra versus England in the 2003 World Cup

It is quite bewildering to realize that a person whose international career stood for 19 years had played a mere 120 One-Day Internationals for India. Injuries and inconsistency had always been the foes of Ashish Nehra. However, Nehra was a person with strong character and always took pride in donning the India blues. He once again stole the limelight with a fiery spell of 6/23 against England in Durban in the 2003 World Cup.

India needed to win that encounter to seal their spot in the Super 6. For that to happen, India needed to defend a total of 250 that was put on the board by the batsmen. It required early in-roads into the English top-order by the new-ball bowlers.

At 18/2, England looked to build a partnership. That's where Nehra came and bowled 10 overs on the trot. He put on a masterclass of seam bowling by angling the ball across the right-handers from over-the-wicket. As a result, the batsmen were expecting all the balls to be around off-stump.

However, Nehra left the batsmen in awe by pitching the ball on the middle-stump. The batsmen could not adjust to that and Nehra took 3 wickets in 9 balls that he pitched on the middle stump.

His figures still remain the best by an Indian bowler in a World Cup game.


4. 7/20 - Andy Bichel versus England in the 2003 World Cup

2003 World Cup was going to be a difficult assignment for Australia with two of their main players: Shane Warne and Darren Lehmann missing. However, the devotion and dedication levels that Australians show are unparalleled. They have a tendency to find new heroes in every dire situation.

One of those heroes was Andy Bichel in the 2003 World Cup game against England. Bichel was carrying drinks in most games of the tournament. However, Australian teams have always ensured that their bench-strength is also star-studded just as their playing eleven is.

Andy Bichel finally got an opportunity in a game that England needed to win to make it to the Super Six and Bichel grabbed it with both hands. England got off to a fine start, reaching 66/0. That's when Bichel came and ran through the English batting order. England lost 3 wickets in 8 balls and could never recover from that collapse.

It managed its way through to 204 which was a below-par total. Bichel's figures still remain the second-best figures in World Cup history. However, that day belonged to Bichel because of heroics not only with the ball but also with the bat.

Australia were crushed and reduced to 135/8 chasing down the score. A win seemed almost impossible from that situation. That's when he built a 73-run stand with the finisher Michael Bevan and finished the game off in style which ended England's World Cup hopes in 2003.

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