Specials – Recalling the best of the 2007 World Cup

  It has been ten years since the ninth edition of the Cricket World Cup, which began in the Caribbean on 13th March, 2007 and featured a record 16 teams.

  The tournament drew considerable flak from many quarters for its long-drawn format and overpriced tickets, not to mention the embarrassing gaffe by the umpires in the rain-reduced final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

  According to the critics, the shocking death of Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer and the early ousters of marquee teams such as India and Pakistan further dampened the tournament that was trumpeted to be the world’s biggest cricket carnival.

  However, the showpiece event saw plenty of eye-catching performances and fairytale moments that are still fresh in the memory even after a decade. For instance, Ireland’s remarkable giant-killing journey is now part of cricketing folklore, while Australia blitzed to their third successive title with a ruthless domination over every team they faced.

  Let us look back at the best from the saga that was the 2007 World Cup:

A rush of records

  A clutch of new World Cup records were created in the 2007 edition. India became the first team to surpass the 400-run barrier, scoring 413/5 against Bermuda; their 257-run win becoming the biggest victory margin.

  A record aggregate of 671 was gathered as well, in the group match between Australia and South Africa at Basseterre; in the same match, Matthew Hayden scored the fastest World Cup hundred, off 66 balls. All these records have since been broken.

Australia conquer one and all

  Never before had any team imposed their supremacy in a World Cup tournament in the manner Australia did in 2007. Gunning for a hat trick of titles, Ricky Ponting’s men won all eleven matches in thumping fashion to reaffirm their status as the undisputed kings of ODI cricket. 

  They reserved their most clinical display for New Zealand – the team that had whitewashed them 3-0 in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in the lead-up to the tournament. The Black Caps were thrashed by a whopping 215 runs at St. George’s in the Super Eight stage as Australia provided a rude reminder that no one could hold a candle to them on the biggest stage of them all.

     Australia, who were undefeated throughout the tournament, won their third successive World Cup trophy (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Their inevitable march towards glory culminated with handsome wins over South Africa – who crashed to 27/5 after batting first – and Sri Lanka in the semi-final and final respectively.

Pluck of the Irish

  First-time participants Ireland, clubbed in a tough Group D, were the toast of the tournament as they won the hearts of all and sundry with their spunky campaign that produced two memorable wins and a tie against full member teams.

  Led by the spirited Trent Johnston, the Irish first held Zimbabwe to a nerve-shredding tie at Kingston to show that they were not going to be pushovers as the tournament progressed.

  Four days later – on St. Patrick’s Day, no less – at the same venue, Ireland astonished the cricket world by bowling 1992 champions Pakistan out for 132 and then winning by three wickets, thanks to Niall O’Brien’s superb 72. They went on to collect another scalp in the Super Eight round, in the form of Bangladesh, who were resoundingly beaten by 74 runs at Bridgetown.

Tigers come of age

  On the same day that Ireland knocked Pakistan out, Bangladesh put India on the brink of elimination with a famous five-wicket win at Port-of-Spain. Disciplined bowling from the Tigers ensured that the fancied Indian batsmen could manage no more than 191.

  This win was the ticket they needed to make it to the Super Eight, wherein they upset South Africa by 67 runs. After enduring a winless campaign in 2003, this was a much-needed boost for Bangladeshi cricket.

Pigeon flies off in style

  A couple of months before the World Cup, the great Glenn McGrath had a triumphant end to his Test career as Australia regained the Ashes with a 5-0 win at home.

  His ODI farewell was even sweeter, as he topped the bowling charts at the World Cup with a record tally of 26 wickets at a stunning average of 13.73, for which he was named Player of the Tournament. His penetrative bowling at the top proved that this Pigeon could fly high even at the age of 37.

      Playing in their first World Cup, unfancied Ireland conjured memorable wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh (source – icc-cricket.com)

Gilchrist squashes the Lankans

  Australian legend Adam Gilchrist pounded the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind 149 from 104 balls in the rain-hit final at Bridgetown. This title-clinching innings – the highest ever in a World Cup final – was studded with 13 fours and eight sixes, and knocked the wind out of the opposition, which was hoping for an encore of the 1996 summit clash when Australia were at the receiving end.

  Gilchrist’s assault carried Australia to a winning total of 281/4 in the allotted 38 overs. The secret to his powerful hitting turned out to be a squash ball, which he had placed in the glove of his bottom hand and credited it for giving him a better grip.

  It was an unusual tactic to employ, but certainly not illegal. With this win by 53 runs on the D/L method, Australia stretched their unbeaten streak in the World Cup to 30 matches, dating back to 1999.

That catch by Dwayne Leverock

  Bermudan policeman Dwayne Leverock, weighing in at over 280 pounds, provided one of the most iconic World Cup moments when he took a catch at first slip off the bowling of 17-year-old Malachi Jones to dismiss India’s Robin Uthappa in a Group B match at Port-of-Spain.

  Leverock dived to the right to take a stunning one-handed catch, after which he took off on a celebratory run across the field even as Jones wept with joy. “He has flown like a gazelle…the earth shook! Oh what a catch!”, exclaimed commentator David Lloyd on air.

  Though India had the last laugh, smashing 413/5, then the highest World Cup total , en route a 257-run victory, Leverock made sure that he attained cult status with his gravity-defying exhibition of athleticism.

Gibbs goes hammer and tongs

  Exciting South African stroke-maker Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, when he achieved the rare feat against the Netherlands in a Group A match at Basseterre. The unfortunate bowler to suffer this onslaught was leg-spinner Daan van Bunge, who returned forgettable figures of 4-0-56-0 as South Africa romped home by 221 runs.

       South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, achieving the feat against the Netherlands (source – rediff.com)

  In what was a rain-reduced 40-over affair, the Proteas were warming up nicely at 178/2 when the historic 30th over began. The first one went over long-on, the next two were smote over long-off, the fourth slogged over deep mid-wicket, the fifth swatted over wide long-off and finally another over deep mid-wicket. Gibbs scored 72 from just 40 balls as South Africa piled up 353/3.

‘Slinga’ Malinga creates history

  Sri Lanka’s curly-haired speedster Lasith Malinga, renowned for his slingshot action, became the first man to capture four wickets in four balls in any form of international cricket during his side’s Super Eight clash with South Africa at Providence.

  Needing 210 for victory, South Africa seemed home and dry at 206/5 when Malinga dismissed Shaun Pollock (bowled) Andrew Hall (caught at cover) off the last two balls of the 45th over. He returned in the 47th over and duly removed the well-settled Jacques Kallis (caught behind) for 86 and Makhaya Ntini (bowled) off the first two balls to reduce the score to 207/9.

  Nevertheless, South Africa eventually scampered home by one wicket, Malinga’s 4/54 going in vain. His was the fifth instance of World Cup hat-trick, and in 2011, he became the first bowler to take two World Cup hat-tricks.

Swansongs galore

  As aforementioned, Glenn McGrath had the perfect send-off from international cricket, but other illustrious names were not as lucky. Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq bid a tearful farewell to ODI cricket, bowing out from what was a nightmarish tourney for his team in the last group game against Zimbabwe.

  West Indian captain Brian Lara too quit international cricket, after his team failed to meet the expectations of the home crowd. Yet another captain to retire from ODI cricket following the World Cup was England’s Michael Vaughan, while New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming gave up the captaincy after ten years at the helm.

  Furthermore, Greg Chappell and Duncan Fletcher, respective coaches of India and England, resigned from their posts. Victorious Australian coach John Buchanan also called time on a highly successful eight-year tenure.

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RECORD BOOK – The best bowling figures in a World Cup match

  Australia, under the captaincy of Ricky Ponting, defended their World Cup title with ease in 2003 – the first time the tournament was held in Africa. In 1999, they made it to the final by the skin of their teeth before comprehensively winning the trophy. But in 2003, they maintained a clean sheet by winning all eleven games, culminating in a 125-run win over India in the summit clash.

  Among Australia’s opponents in Group A were Namibia, who were playing in the World Cup for the first time. The two teams met on February 27, 2003 at the North West Cricket Stadium in Potchefstroom, in front of a decent turn-out of about 6000 people. This game was the fifth in the tournament for both the teams. Namibia, predictably, were soundly beaten in all their four games thus far in spite of a creditable showing against England. By contrast, Australia were dominant against all the sides they faced. Everyone expected a one-sided affair and not surprisingly it proved to be so.

  Ponting called correctly and opted to bat first. Medium pacer Burton van Rooi bowled with good control and was rewarded with the prized wicket of Adam Gilchrist in his third over. But Matthew Hayden was in a belligerent mood and treated the inexperienced Namibian attack with disdain.  He scored 88 off 73 balls before Louis Burger bowled him to peg back the Australians a little. Andrew Symonds and Damien Martyn got together at 146/4 and added 84 for the fifth wicket. Namibia did well to keep the score to 231/6 with seven overs left, but Darren Lehmann cracked an unbeaten 50 from 31 balls – including 28 in the final over – to propel the final total to 301/6 in 50 overs. Louis Burger impressed with his medium pace, taking 3/39 in ten overs.

zmcgrar       Glenn McGrath traps Gavin Murgatroyd LBW for a duck. The great bowler destroyed the Namibian batting en route to a World Cup record return (source – reuters/espncricinfo.com)

  Against Australia’s world-class bowlers, Namibia had little chance to survive their entire quota of overs or to get anywhere close to Australia’s huge total. The great pace bowler Glenn McGrath was in his element and the Namibian batsmen had no clue on how to tackle his accurate bowling. Jan-Berrie Burger, who made an attacking  85 off 86 balls against England, clouted McGrath for four off the third ball of the first over, but ‘Pigeon’ got his man a ball later, inducing Burger to edge one to Ponting in the slips. McGrath was surprisingly wayward in this opening over and ended up conceding twelve runs including six wides. Stephan Swanepoel was the second wicket to fall, when Ponting snapped up another catch, off Brett Lee in the fourth over. After four overs, Namibia were 14/2 and were up against it already.

  McGrath proceeded to make a mockery of the chase by producing a lethal spell. In his third over (the innings’ fifth), he dismissed Morne Karg, caught behind by Gilchrist. From that point on, he took at least one wicket in each of his remaining overs as the hapless Namibian batsmen fell like a pack of cards. In his fourth over, McGrath trapped Gavin Murgatroyd plumb in front. After seven overs, Namibia were 17/4. McGrath’s figures at this stage read 4-2-14-3. In his fifth over, he accounted for Danie Keulder as his fourth victim, caught behind. Half the side were back in the hut with just 28 runs on the board and a massive defeat loomed large.

  Worse was to follow for the beleaguered Namibians as McGrath kept up the pressure. In his sixth over, he completed his five-wicket haul when Gilchrist caught Louis Burger behind. Namibia managed to get past the lowest ODI total – 36 by Canada against Sri Lanka earlier in the same tournament – as they limped to 45/6 in 12 overs. In his seventh over, McGrath achieved a double-wicket maiden as he removed captain Deon Kotze (caught behind) and his brother Bjorn (bowled) in the space of four balls. Andy Bichel got a double-wicket maiden of his own as he cleaned up the last two wickets in the next over. Namibia’s last four wickets failed to score even a single run as the African side were shot out for 45 in just 14 overs. Captain Kotze (10) was the only one to reach double figures.

zmcn        McGrath acknowledges the crowd after taking his fifth wicket against Namibia (source – ecb.co.uk)

  Man of the Match McGrath’s final figures read a spectacular 7-4-15-7, and that too after going for 12 runs in his first over. This performance broke the record of the best bowling analysis in a World Cup match, which previously was 7/51 by West Indian fast bowler Winston Davis against Australia at Headingley in 1983. Besides McGrath and Davis, the only other bowler to take seven wickets in a World Cup is Bichel, who took 7/20 in Australia’s very next game of the 2003 World Cup, against England at Port Elizabeth. McGrath’s return is the best ever by an Australian and currently the third best in all ODI cricket, behind Chaminda Vaas’ 8/19 for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe at Colombo in 2001-02 and Shahid Afridi’s 7/12 for Pakistan against the West Indies at Providence in 2013.

  Namibia’s total of 45 is the joint second-lowest in World Cup history along with Canada, who also made 45 against England at Old Trafford in 1979. The record for the lowest World Cup total is also held by Canada, who managed only 36 against Sri Lanka at Paarl in 2003 as mentioned above. At that time, Australia’s victory margin of 256 runs was an ODI record. Since then, there have been four more instances of a higher victory margin. Currently, this margin is the second highest in a World Cup game, following India’s 257-run win over Bermuda at Port-of-Spain in 2007. Namibia’s entire innings lasted just 84 balls, which is the ODI record for the shortest completed innings in terms of balls. Gilchrist’s six catches in the match is also a World Cup record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper.

  McGrath collected 21 wickets in all in the 2003 World Cup at an average of 14.76, the third-best tally behind Vaas (23) and Lee (22). He bettered this in the 2007 edition, where he took 26 wickets in 11 matches at 13.73 – a record for the most number of wickets in a single World Cup tournament – as Australia completed a hat-trick of titles. Thanks to these achievements, he also holds the record of the most wickets in World Cup history – 71 in 39 matches at 18.19 with two five-wicket hauls.

Match Scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/65263.html

Famous Test Matches – England v Australia, The Oval, 1997

  In this post, we go back to the sixth and final Test of the 1997 Ashes series. Despite England showing early promise with a resounding win in the opening Test at Edgbaston, Australia came back in familiar fashion to win three of the next four Tests to retain the urn and win their fifth Ashes series in succession.

  Thus, this final Test was of no consequence to the series result as Australia had an unassailable 3-1 lead. However, the game produced a stirring low-scoring contest with some fascinating bowling performances.

  From their eleven which were beaten in the fifth Test by 264 runs, England dropped John Crawley, Dean Headley and Robert Croft and replaced them with Mark Ramprakash, Peter Martin and Phil Tufnell. Mark Butcher was also recalled.

  Australia too tinkered with their bowling attack, bringing in Michael Kasprowicz and debutant all-rounder Shaun Young in place of Jason Gillespie and Paul Reiffel.

wbLORDS97mcgrath_gallery__298x400    Glenn McGrath (c) took 7/76 in the first innings. He was the scourge of English batsmen throughout the series, finishing with 36 wickets (source – theage.com.au)

  After electing to bat, England began poorly, slumping to 24/2 with Glenn McGrath sending back openers Mark Butcher and captain Michael Atherton cheaply. Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain revived the innings with a 73-run stand for the third wicket before McGrath trapped the former (out for 36, the highest score of the innings) leg before.

  A depressing English collapse ensued, with 128/3 becoming 132/7. McGrath was in deadly form, as he mopped off the top six all by himself. Bowling fast and straight, his accuracy was found to be too hot to handle for the hosts’ middle order.

  Andrew Caddick and Martin staged a momentary counter-attack, resulting in Kasprowicz leaking almost five an over. However it did nothing to boost the innings, which ended at 180 when Kasprowicz dismissed Devon Malcolm for a golden duck.

  Left-arm spinner Tufnell then removed the Australian openers within 54 runs, including captain Mark Taylor who was looking in good touch during his 38. Australia ended the eventful first day at 77/2 and in control.

  Early on day two, Tufnell added a third wicket, that of Mark Waugh, to make it 94/3. Mark’s twin brother Steve then joined Greg Blewett and the two appeared to be taking the game away from England before Waugh’s dismissal limited their stand to 46.

  Tufnell then proceeded to give the Aussies a taste of their own medicine, as he made full use of a dry pitch – which was seeming to crumble already – to reduce them to 164/7, including the wicket of top-scorer Blewett for 47.

zzxp      Phil Tufnell gave England some consolation in an Ashes series defeat, taking 11/93 at the Oval to help his side snatch a 19-run win (source – paphotos/espncricinfo.com)

  England were right back in the contest. Ricky Ponting added 41 for the eighth wicket with Shane Warne, but Tufnell was in his element and he removed Ponting for a gutsy 40 to help bowl out Australia for 220, the lead restricted to 40. ‘Tuffers’ bowled unchanged for 34.3 overs including 16 maidens and finished with a memorable 7/66.

  In the second innings, England’s top three were sent back with the score reading only 26 – Kasprowicz taking two of them – and the hosts were still trailing by 14. They ended the second day at 52/3, leading by 12. The Test was hurtling towards a quick finish.

  Off the third ball on day three, Hussain was dismissed by Warne and the score now read 52/4. With such a pitch on offer for the guile of Warne, many England fans would have thought of yet another easy win for the Australians.

  But there was a glimmer of hope – Warne was far from fully fit due to a groin strain which occurred late on the second day. Graham Thorpe and Ramprakash (48) steadied the ship with a partnership of 79 for the fifth wicket. Kasprowicz ended the resistance by accounting for Thorpe for 62 – the game’s only half-century.

  This dismissal was the opening that the visitors needed, as Kasprowicz then made short work of the English tail. The last four wickets fell for three runs as England were bowled out for 163. Kasprowicz, playing just his fifth Test, took 7/36 and thus, three bowlers had taken seven wickets in an innings in the same Test for the first time.

001402   Michael Kasprowicz became the third bowler to take seven wickets in an innings in the Oval Test, bagging 7/36 in the second innings (source – espncricinfo.com)

  Australia’s target was a 124, but going by the pattern of the match it was not going to be an easy task. And so it seemed when Matthew Elliott was out leg-before to Malcolm to make the score 5/1.

  Taylor and Blewett took the total on to 36, but the combination of pace and spin from Caddick and Tufnell respectively kept up the pressure on the batsmen. Yet another middle-order implosion was witnessed, as Australia went from a steady 36/1 to a pathetic 54/5.

  Caddick got rid of Taylor, Blewett and Steve Waugh while Tufnell sent back Mark Waugh. Blewett was unfairly given out caught behind, as the television replays confirmed that there was no edge. Ponting was still there, and he kept his team alive by adding a valuable 34 with Ian Healy for the sixth wicket.

  However, Tufnell trapped Ponting in the front before Caddick took a return catch offered by Healy to reduce Australia to 92/7. Batting with a runner, Warne too was out quickly and as expected, the tail provided no resistance.

  The final wicket was that of McGrath, who was caught by Thorpe off Tufnell. Australia were skittled out for 104 and lost the Test by 19 runs. Caddick bagged 5/42 while man-of-the-match Tufnell took 4/27 to finish the match with a career-best return of 11/93. The match was over by 5.24 p.m on the third day – the first three-day Test at the Oval since 1957.

  This win, though not enough to stop Australia from laying their hands on the urn yet again, surely delighted England’s supporters. Given the state of mind in which England entered this Test and the total they were defending, it can be said that this was one of their most memorable Ashes victories. 

  But such victories were to be rare occurrences in the coming years as well. England lost the following three Ashes series by margins of 3-1, 4-1 and 4-1, stretching Australia’s unbeaten streak to a record-equalling eight Ashes series wins in a row. 

Match Scorecard

GUEST SECTION – McGrath’s six-fer, Ajit Agarkar and the Old Wanderers

Glenn McGrath after his 6-wicket haul

             GLENN MCGRATH 6/50

  After winning the 2005 Ashes 2-1, England came to Brisbane for first test of the 2006/07 Ashes with lots of confidence under Andrew Flintoff.  All confidence got nullified after Australia declared 602/9 and Glenn McGrath ripped through the England line-up claiming 6/50 and dismissing them for 157. McGrath started off getting both openers – Andrew Strauss & Alistair Cook caught and came  back to get Kevin Pietersen and Geraint Jones leg-before. Steve Harmison was caught behind to hand him his 5-wicket haul and Ashley Giles became his 6th victim of the innings. McGrath finished his last-series with 21 scalps as Australia won 5-0.

AJIT AGARKAR

  Ajit Agarkar was one of the key in India’s ODI bowling unit till 2007 before falling out of form and never found a place again. He picked up 288 wickets from 191 matches including a 6/42 at the MCG against the hosts Australia in the 2004 VB Series. He had a good debut year picking up 58 wickets from 30 matches in 1998. He added another 5-wicket haul in 2005 with 5/44 against visiting Sri Lanka. In Test cricket, he picked up 58 wickets and he enjoyed touring Australia in Tests too picking up 6/41 in Adelaide in 2003. He also has a prestigious Lord’s Test century to his name – 109* in 2002. 

THE OLD WANDERERS

  The Old Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg was the key place where cricket was held in South Africa from 1886 to 1932 – a period that saw a huge change in cricket – from 5 balls per over to 6 and then 8. This venue wasn’t used in the era of 500+ scores, but there were few thrilling moments – innings that saw the hosts bowled under 100 – 99 in 1899 when there were chasing 132 and 91 against same opposition in 1906 but still managed to win the match. The stadium had to give way for a railway expansion project that saw cricket shifted to a rugby ground in the city.