Picking the Cricket World Cup top bowler isn’t an easy task but with some analysis of past tournaments, we can get close to drawing a profile.
At least when trying to decipher who might be the top batsman we can petty much narrow it down to opening batsmen, as the history books show us that it’s only openers who have won it over the last few editions. In an ODI you’ll have between five and seven different players bowling at least one over and usually at least four bowling the full ten overs so their place in the team doesn’t really help us the way it does with the batsmen.
But we can study past tournaments to at least draw a profile of who might be in contention for Cricket World Cup top bowler.
Past Cricket World Cup Top Bowler winners
Runners Up: Pakistan
Top Bowlers: 20 wickets- Shane Warne (Australia/spinner) + Geoff Allott (New Zealand/fast-medium).
Hosts: South Africa
Runners Up: India
Top Bowler: 23 wickets – Chaminda Vaas * (Sri Lanka/fast medium)
Hosts: West Indies
Runners-up: Sri Lanka
Top Bowler: 26 wickets – Glenn McGrath (Australia, fast bowler)
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Runners-up: Sri Lanka
Top Bowlers: Zaheer Khan* (India, fast bowler), Shahid Afridi (Pakistan/leg spinner).
Hosts: Australia and New Zealand
Runners-up: New Zealand
Top Bowlers: 22 wickets- Mitchell Starc * (Australia, fast bowler), Trent Boult * (New Zealand, fast bowler).
So taking the last eight Cricket World Cup top bowlers, including ties, they share these characteristics:
- Four of them won the World Cup, one was a beaten finalist.
- Six were pace bowlers, two were spinners.
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And now to the really interesting bit: of the eight, four of them and three of the last four, were left-arm fast bowlers. They’re the ones with an asterisk next to them. That’s petty surprising given that most ODI teams tend to have just the one left-arm bowler, at most two.
Champions Trophy Top Bowler
The Champions Trophy is of course a completely different tournament with the major difference being that it was much shorter (it’s been scrapped for the time being) in terms of the number of games and always only had eight teams.
But given that the last two editions were held in England, it would be silly to dismiss what happened in them.
2013 Champions Trophy
Top Bowler: 12 wickets- Ravindra Jadeja* (India, spinner)
2017 Champions Trophy
Top Bowler: 13 wickets- Hasan Ali (Pakistan, spinner)
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It’s worth noting that in Jadeja, there was yet another left-arm winner, albeit a spinner this time.
It’s obviously a very small sample but it’s worth noting that once again, the top bowler came from the team who went on to win the tournament on both occasions.
That shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. Not only do you play the maximum number of games possible so give yourself every chance in that way but he strongest teams take the most wickets.
Look at this way: if you play the best sides you’re generally chasing bigger totals so need to take more risks to try to get close to that total and end up losing more wickets. If you’re batting first, you’ll need to be more aggressive to try and post a big total which of course leads to wickets falling. After all, you’re not going to beat India or England posting 280 on a good wicket.
Of course we don’t know who might be in the final before the tournament has even started. Thankfully, the Cricket World Cup doesn’t seem to throw up many surprises as regards the finalists; all of the last five editions were won by the pre-tournament favourites.
So for the purposes of his we’ll narrow it down to players from the four (justified) favourites: England, India, Australia and New Zealand.
|AU Rashid (ENG)||2015-2019||80||75||667.4||6||3727||127||5/27||29.34||5.58||31.5||7||2|
|Rashid Khan (AFG)||2015-2019||57||54||472.1||25||1845||123||7/18||15.00||3.90||23.0||4||4|
|TA Boult (NZ)||2015-2019||54||54||496.2||31||2632||107||7/34||24.59||5.30||27.8||3||4|
|K Rabada (SA)||2015-2019||66||65||562.2||38||2802||106||6/16||26.43||4.98||31.8||6||1|
|Imran Tahir (SA)||2015-2019||60||59||517.5||23||2487||92||7/45||27.03||4.80||33.7||1||2|
|Kuldeep Yadav (INDIA)||2017-2019||44||42||383.0||10||1892||87||6/25||21.74||4.93||26.4||4||1|
|JJ Bumrah (INDIA)||2016-2019||49||49||417.3||26||1883||85||5/27||22.15||4.51||29.4||4||1|
|LE Plunkett (ENG)||2015-2019||52||50||397.2||7||2362||84||5/52||28.11||5.94||28.3||6||1|
|Mustafizur Rahman (BDESH)||2015-2019||44||43||364.4||19||1756||79||6/43||22.22||4.81||27.6||2||3|
|Hasan Ali (PAK)||2016-2019||46||44||364.1||14||1943||78||5/34||24.91||5.33||28.0||1||3|
|JO Holder (WI)||2015-2019||60||58||470.4||20||2573||74||5/27||34.77||5.46||38.1||1||2|
|Mohammad Nabi (AFG)||2015-2019||60||57||471.2||20||1964||73||4/30||26.90||4.16||38.7||1||0|
|YS Chahal (INDIA)||2016-2019||41||40||362.1||12||1772||72||6/42||24.61||4.89||30.1||1||2|
|B Kumar (INDIA)||2015-2019||60||59||473.4||27||2518||72||5/42||34.97||5.31||39.4||2||1|
|CR Woakes (ENG)||2015-2019||52||49||398.0||23||2150||70||4/33||30.71||5.40||34.1||6||0|
|Mashrafe Mortaza (BDESH)||2015-2019||55||55||459.0||18||2332||69||4/29||33.79||5.08||39.9||2||0|
|AG Cremer (ZIM)||2015-2018||53||52||439.1||14||1996||66||5/20||30.24||4.54||39.9||2||2|
|Dawlat Zadran (AFG)||2015-2019||46||44||351.4||28||1783||65||4/22||27.43||5.07||32.4||3||0|
|PJ Cummins (AUS)||2015-2019||36||36||322.1||21||1599||63||5/70||25.38||4.96||30.6||5||1|
|MJ Santner (NZ)||2015-2019||59||55||446.1||8||2187||63||5/50||34.71||4.90||42.4||0||1|
Cricket World Cup Top Bowler candidates
Above are the figures for most wickets taken over the past three years, with the players in bold being those who play for one of the four favourites.
Adil Rashid at 17.0 with Betfair Sportsbook tops the list but he’s also played by far the most matches, at least 20 more than anyone else, so we shouldn’t get too excited about him.
The better metric might be the player’s strike rate. The player with by far the best strike rate is Rashid Khan (19.0) but sadly we have to cross him off because he plays for one of the tournament’s outsiders.
Catching our attention straight away for cricket World Cup top bowler are Trent Boult (ranked 3rd for most wickets, good strike rate, left-arm bowler) of New Zealand who is 26.0 with Betfair Sportsbook and Kuldeep Yadav, who is 14.0 favourite, (ranked 6th, strike rate 26.4, left-arm spinner) of India.
Jasprit Bumrah (14.0) and Chris Woakes (21.00) will have their chances too but B. Kumar and Liam Plunkett shouldn’t be considered on the basis that neither is guaranteed a game.
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