Before the ICC World Cup, 2019 in England had even begun, there were genuine fears by cricket pundits that this would be a tournament completely dominated by batsmen. Their concerns weren’t irrational. The pitches in England have taken a dramatic turn over the last four years and have become increasingly in favor of batsmen. Scores of 350-plus had become quite the norm here, even weeks before the tournament had started and it was being assumed that bowlers would have a tight time bowling on flat pitches on offer in the main event.
Curiously, though, that hasn’t been the case.
One week into the World Cup so far and the matches have been competitive with only a couple of high-scoring games. Most of the other matches have seen swing and seam being offered to the fast bowlers who have led to some engaging battle between the bat and the ball.Embed from Getty Images
The seam bowlers featuring in the tourney have breathed a sigh of relief and are elated at the help they have received so far. New Zealand’s Trent Boult was pumped after his team’s narrow two-win over Bangladesh in Kennington Oval earlier in the World Cup. In that low-scoring match, bowlers got plenty of help and movement from the pitch, and Boult returned with figures of 2-44.
“The ball is different for this tournament,” Boult said after New Zealand’s two-wicket win. “They have got a different gloss on them. Or they are painted differently, so I don’t know if you have talked about it too much, but there has been a little bit more swing. Where the white balls have been quite prominent in that you can see their quarter seams, and everything with the ball but now it is fully covered. It is nice to hold in hand. It is moving a little bit. Yeah, we are happy.”
Boult also mentioned that the help is not just from the ball but from the pitches and overall conditions too. With cloudy skies, pitches offering seam and bounce and a ball that is aiding prodigious swing in the early overs, bowlers have a say in this World Cup in England.Embed from Getty Images
Apart from Boult, the likes of Matt Henry, Mitchell Starc, Jasprit Bumrah, Oshane Thomas, Patt Cummins, Mohammad Amir, and Wahab Riaz have all shown traces of their brilliance in the World Cup courtesy the favorable conditions and the ball.Embed from Getty Images
This is excellent news for the cricket world at this juncture. ODI, as a format, has been dying a slow death for a while now. The World Cup is the perfect opportunity to revive it. But for that, an even contest between the bat and the ball is needed. Flat pitches and regular scores of 350-plus would have taken the sting out of ODIs and overall enjoyment of the tournament.Embed from Getty Images
This is where the World Cup 2019 in England is standing out and making a difference. If the pitches continue to be helpful to the bowlers as the tournament progresses, we will get to witness some exciting stuff from the featuring fast bowlers – swing, seam, bounce, pace, slower ones, and swinging yorkers – to deceive batsmen and eventually some classic ODI games. And that is precisely what cricket needs right now from its most prestigious tournament.