JOHANNESBURG – Remember when the Cricket World Cup was supposed to be held in dry conditions, on flat pitches and fast bowlers were just going there to make up the numbers?
Those were fun times. South Africa still looked like they had a clue, Australia were building ominously, England looked unbeatable and AB de Villiers was still definitely retired.
Here we are two weeks into the tournament, South Africa have no plan B (or C), Australia’s batting has looked shaky, their bowling too reliant on Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, England have been beaten and AB de Villiers was available (sort of) for World Cup selection.
Oh, and it has rained. Quite a lot. Three games have been washed out - one of those earning South Africa their first point in their fourth match. And the fast bowlers are making hay - in what little sunshine there has been.
Now that’s not to say, this will always be the case.
The World Cup as every forecaster mentioned is a long event. Much is expected of the spinners still, particularly towards the back end of the group stage phase. However with the semi-finals being played on “fresh” pitches - newly prepared ones - perhaps quick bowlers will continue to make an impression even as the tournament heads to its conclusion.
Before yesterday’s match between Pakistan and Australia in Taunton, it was the fast bowlers who were dominating the wicket-taking charts. Of the top 10 leading wicket-takers, six were out-and-out quicks, i.e. - capable of propelling the ball at speeds topping 140km/*. Three others are medium pacers, although in the case of Ben Stokes, he can deliver what cricketers refer to as a “heavy ball.”