On six out of the eight occasions so far, the World Cup-winning side has had a bowler finish with the highest number of wickets in the tournament.

From Roger Binny to Mitchell Starc When bowlers helped teams lift the World Cup
Cricket WC 2019 CWC 2019 Sunday, June 30, 2019 - 12:26

World Cup 2019 is heading for an interesting climax. While Australia is the only team to have confirmed a spot in the semifinals so far, the other three slots are up for grabs. India, New Zealand, Pakistan, England, and Bangladesh are all in the reckoning to make it to the top 4.

While the World Cup was tipped to be a batsman's paradise, it has been the bowlers who have turned the tables in the tournament. Whether it is Mitchell Starc's yorker to clean up Ben Stokes or Kuldeep Yadav's leg-spinner that went through Babar Azam's defence, bowlers have often managed to win the key moments in a game.

This has been a recurring pattern in World Cup tournaments in years gone by. Do you know how many times a bowler / batsman finished on top of the charts and the team ended up lifting the trophy? Here’s a lookback:

1979 World Cup, England

West Indies were the undisputed champions and gunning for a second successive title. They had a shrewd captain in ‘Super Cat’ Clive Lloyd who led from the front. In the final, they trounced England by 92 runs. West Indian opener Gordon Greenidge, who was one of the most feared batsmen of his times, emerged as the top-scorer in the tournament with 253 runs. He scored one hundred and two fifties with a highest  score of 106 at an average of 84.33.

1983 World Cup, England

1983 was a glorious chapter in Indian cricket as the underdogs stunned defending champions West Indies in the final. The team led by Kapil Dev played a fearless brand of cricket that helped them succeed. Defending a paltry total of 183, the Indians bowled the West Indies out for 140 runs. India’s Roger Binny finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 18 wickets. His bowling average was 18.66 with an economy rate of 3.81. He finished with best figures of 4 for 29. 

1987 World Cup, India-Pakistan

The World Cup moved out of England for the first time after the first three editions and was played in the sub-continent. India and Pakistan were the pre-tournament favourites but both lost in the semis to England and Australia respectively. In the finals held at the iconic Eden Gardens in Calcutta, it was Australia who emerged as the champions winning by 7 runs. England had looked well on course before their skipper Mike Gatting played an indiscreet reverse sweep which cost him his wicket, and England the match. Australia’s Craig McDermott finished as highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 18 wickets at an average of 18.94 with a best of 5 for 44. This was incidentally the same tally which Binny had picked in the previous edition. 

1992 World Cup, Australia-New Zealand

Sub-continental teams were not expected to do well on the fast, bouncy pitches of Australia-New Zealand. But Pakistan, which had almost been eliminated from the competition, sprung a surprise to lift the trophy. They beat England by 22 runs thanks in part to a fiery spell of fast bowling by Wasim Akram who took 2 wickets off successive deliveries. Akram finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 18 scalps at an average of 18.77 and economy rate of 3.76. Coincidentally, this was again the same tally for the highest wickets in the tournament as the previous two editions. 

1999 World Cup, England 

This was the start of Australia’s great run of World Cup triumphs. After a thrilling tie with South Africa in the semifinal, Australia entered the final on the basis of having finished higher in the Super Six standings. The final turned out to be a one-sided affair with Pakistan being bowled out for a mere 132. Shane Warne was the wrecker-in-chief with 4 wickets. He also finished joint-highest in the wickets tally with 20 wickets, a record he shared with New Zealand’s Geoff Allott. Warne’s wickets came at an average of 18.05 with an economy rate of 3.82. 

2007 World Cup, West Indies

Australia stretched their unbeaten record in World Cups, carrying on from 2003, to lift their third title in a row. In a final plagued with controversy, as the umpires allowed play under fading light, Australia romped home by 53 runs under the D/L method. Mathew Hayden aggregated the maximum runs in the tournament. He finished on 659 runs with 3 hundreds, at an average of 73.22 with a strike rate of 101.07. 

2011 World Cup, India-Sri Lanka-Bangladesh

India won the World Cup after a gap of 28 years, beating Sri Lanka in the final by 6 wickets. Yuvraj Singh was declared Player of the tournament for his all-round performance. Zaheer Khan shone with the ball and tied for the highest wickets in the tournament at 21 with Shahid Afridi. He finished with best bowling figures of 5 for 16 with an average of 12.85 and economy rate of 3.62. 

2015 World Cup, Australia-New Zealand

Australia beat New Zealand by 7 wickets to win a record 5th World Cup title. Mitchell Starc was the standout bowler of the tournament along with Trent Boult, as both finished on 22 wickets. Starc’s wickets came at an average of 10.18 with economy rate of 3.50. His best bowling figures were 6 for 28. 

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.