Teams with quality wrist spinners likely to dominate 2019 World Cup

By Prasenjit Dey

Gurugram

Wrist spin has always been the toughest art of bowling in cricket. But the rewards can be big if one masters it. Shane Warne, Anil Kumble and Richie Benaud are prime examples of the same. Their bowling never ceased to amaze the fans.

In the period between 2000 and 2010, we witnessed some excellent performances from Warne and Kumble. Apart from them, Danish Kaneria, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg also kept the viewers interested. However, their retirements left a huge void and wrist spin fell out of favour (at least for some years). But it flourished again in 2016 once teams realised that wrist spin can be the x-factor in their success across the limited-overs formats.

Young wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rashid Khan, Adil Rashid and Shadab Khan arrived at the international scene and the art that used to dominate the world of cricket a decade back, showed signs of peaking again.

With the World Cup approaching, teams having quality wrist spinners would clearly have the edge over others. The fact is backed by how wrist spinners have performed in ODIs in the last two years.

The top seven wrist spinners have accounted for 430 wickets since 2017.

Rashid Khan - 36 matches, 91 wickets 
Kuldeep Yadav - 39 matches, 77 wickets 
Adil Rashid - 41 matches, 68 wickets 
Yuzvendra Chahal - 36 matches, 62 wickets
Shadab Khan - 34 matches, 47 wickets 
Graeme Cremer - 27 matches, 43 wickets 
Imran Tahir - 30 matches, 42 wickets 

All except Cremer in the above list are expected to feature in the 10-team tournament in England, starting May 30. Their statistics clearly indicate how they could possibly dominate the event.

Australia - Average: 27.25, Lost a wicket (after every): 30 balls
South Africa - 19.6, 22
England - 32.58, 39
India - 44.57, 46
New Zealand - 26.59, 33
Pakistan - 35.4, 47    
Sri Lanka -19.76, 27

The data above shows how some of the top ODI teams have fared against wrist spinners since 2017. Clearly, India, Pakistan and England are the only teams who have faced most of them comfortably. Both England and Pakistan average in 30s. India, on the other hand, have an excellent average of 44.57.

The numbers also reveal that South Africa have serious issues against wrist spinners as their average of 19.6 suggests. Same is the case with Sri Lanka and Australia.

Moreover, wrist spinners have taken 60 wickets at an average of 25.51 in England since 2017. That sums up how lethal they can be in the World Cup.

*Stats updated till February 1, 2019