The ODI World Cup has created several memorable moments over the years, thanks to the exploits of some top-quality bowlers. Since the premier tournament’s inception in 1975, fans have been treated to incredible bowling spells from elite practitioners of the craft across generations. As the 2023 edition draws closer, let’s revisit the finest bowling performances in World Cup history and the bowlers who have left an indelible mark on cricket’s showpiece event.
As per cricket match latest news, Glenn McGrath will be best remembered for his metronomic accuracy and his ability to chip away with wicket-taking balls. The Australian great holds the record for the most wickets in World Cup history with 71 scalps from 39 matches across 4 editions from 1996-2007. McGrath stamped his mark early, finishing as the top wicket-taker in the 1996 edition with 18 wickets. However, his best was reserved for the 2003 edition where McGrath’s consistency played a huge role in Australia’s unbeaten title run.
McGrath snatched 26 wickets from 11 matches at an average of 16.53 and made crucial strikes, including a 3-wicket haul in the final. In 2007, he continued to be a vital cog in Australia’s hat-trick of World Cup wins with a player of the tournament performance. McGrath took another 26 wickets, going through a golden patch in the Super 8 stage. Glenn McGrath is the World Cup’s most prolific bowler and his exploits in the 1996, 2003 and 2007 victorious campaigns cement his status as an ODI great.
Lasith Malinga will go down as one of cricket’s most unique bowlers with his slinging round arm action and toe-crushing yorkers. And he brought the biggest weapon in his arsenal to the World Cup stage. After modest returns in 2007, Malinga peaked in the 2011 edition on home soil. He blew opposition batting lineups away with a combination of searing yorkers, slower balls and pinpoint accuracy. Malinga picked up 13 wickets in 6 matches at a staggering average of 6.46 per wicket including two four-wicket hauls.
In the 2011 final, his incisive bowling was instrumental in restricting India to 274 despite an uncharacteristic economy rate. Four years later in 2015, the formidable Sri Lankan was at it again, finishing as the joint-highest wicket taker. Malinga added another 12 wickets in 6 matches at 17.91 per dismissal, foxing batsmen with clever variations. With his slingshot action adding deception into the mix, Lasith Malinga will go down as one of the most unplayable bowlers in World Cup history.
Wasim Akram will be regarded as one of the greatest left-arm pacers to have played the game. Blessed with prodigious swing and accuracy, Akram made World Cup cricket his personal playground. After a promising outing in 1987, Akram dominated the 1992 edition with his supreme fast bowling. He snatched 18 wickets in 8 matches including match-winning spells like 3/49 in the final.
However, Akram reserved his most outstanding showing for when Pakistan hosted the 1996 World Cup. Despite missing a couple of matches due to injury, his impact was second to none. Akram bagged 16 wickets in 5 matches at an incredible average of 9.93 per wicket including an unplayable 4/9 against New Zealand to power Pakistan into the final. Wasim Akram delivered his finest on the biggest stage, adjudged Man of the Tournament in Pakistan’s victorious campaign in 1992.
Shane Bond will be remembered as one of the fastest and most lethal bowlers to have played the game. Though his career was injury-plagued, Bond produced some of his most outstanding performances on the World Cup stage. After missing the 2003 victorious run due to injury, Bond set the 2007 World Cup on fire with his extreme pace. He picked up 16 wickets in 8 matches at a scarcely believable average of 12.31 per wicket including 4/39 against Australia. Bond also registered his best World Cup figures against South Africa, blowing them away with 6/19 from 10 fearsome overs.
In 2011, despite races against time to regain full fitness, Bond returned another impactful showing. His 11 wickets from 6 matches included a fabulous 6-wicket haul against Zimbabwe and a 4-wicket burst to extinguish South Africa’s hopes. For all the brevity of his career, Shane Bond’s numbers and performances on the World Cup stage place him amongst the all-time greats.
Muttiah Muralitharan holds the record for most wickets in ODI history and also owns the second-most scalps in World Cups. The smiling assassin bamboozled batsmen with his variations and doosra in a career spanning over 13,000 deliveries in World Cups. After middling returns in 1996, Murali blossomed in 2003 with 16 wickets in 10 matches including the player of the match award in the semifinal against New Zealand. However, the off-spin wizard’s peak tournament was the 2007 edition hosted by the West Indies.
Despite struggling with a shoulder problem, Murali delivered a match-winning 4/19 spell against South Africa before pouching three-wicket hauls in must-win games versus England and New Zealand. Murali polished off a memorable 2007 World Cup with 23 victims, adjudged player of the tournament in a losing cause. In 2011, with the baton passed to the next generation of spinners, Murali still played an instrumental role in Sri Lanka’s runner-up finish. With 31 World Cup scalps overall, Muttiah Muralitharan ranks as an all-time great ODI bowler who invariably delivered his best on the biggest stages.
Another weapon in Sri Lanka’s formidable bowling lineup over the years was left-arm seamer Chaminda Vaas. While the likes of Muralitharan and Malinga stole the limelight, Vaas’s reputation as one of the best World Cup bowlers often flies under the radar. Vaas burst on the scene in 1996 with his prodigious swing and subtracted bounce, snaring 15 scalps in 6 matches at 14.13 per wicket. In the 2003 semifinal against New Zealand, his inspirational 6/25 was instrumental in Sri Lanka recovering from a disastrous start to post a fighting total.
The 1983 World Cup win is still counted as one of the most iconic moments in West Indies’ cricketing history. And the heroic feats of Joel Garner played a pivotal part in the underdogs’ historic campaign. At a towering height of 6’8”, Garner used his bounce, accuracy and slower balls to brilliant effect in English conditions. He clean bowled five Pakistani batsmen in their opening match before registering career-best figures of 5/38 to decimate Australia. Garner snapped up 18 wickets in 8 matches at miserly average of 11.94 per dismissal, collecting the player of the series award.
The ODI World Cup has seen the emergence of high quality bowlers who have raised their games on the biggest stage across generations. Legends like Wasim Akram, Shane Bond and Joel Garner tormented opposition batsmen during the initial decades. With the advancement in fielding standards and bowling tactics, modern greats like Glenn McGrath, Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan also thrived at various World Cups. And in the current decade, quicks of the caliber of Mitchell Starc, and Zaheer Khan have used the platform to enhance their reputations as well. With the cricket news cricket news 2023 World Cup around the corner, a new generation of talented bowlers would be itching to their names in history.