The inaugural ICC World Test Championship began in August 2019 with The Ashes in England; it culminates with an iconic clash between India and New Zealand in June 2021 in the ‘Ultimate Test’.
This two-year period of Test cricket, where teams played matches home and away for WTC point, was introduced by the ICC to boost context in Test matches and to prevent the apparently dying stage of the 5-day format. To an extent, it had served its purpose well.
Since 2018, Test cricket has seen a historical change as wickets have never fallen quicker in the 20th century than it has in the past three years. Pitches in Test cricket have been helpful to bowlers – spinners in Asia and pacers outside it.
At the time of writing, with 70 wickets to his name ace Australia speedster Pat Cummins is the leading wicket-taker in the maiden ICC WTC cycle, although India’s Ravichandran Ashwin can pip him over as the off-spinner has taken 68 wickets in this cycle. There have been three hat-tricks so far in this cycle.
ICC WTC 2019-21: 3 Bowlers Who Took A Hat-Trick In The Tournament (Before the Final):
Jasprit Bumrah vs West Indies, 2019
“I think he is the most complete bowler in world cricket right now.” This was Virat Kohli’s assessment of Jasprit Bumrah after the pacer had helped India whitewash West Indies in their own home.
Bumrah had entered Test cricket, and on his first three tours – to South Africa, England, and Australia – he had become India’s spearhead. On his fourth Test tour, to the West Indies in 2019, he returned as the highest wicket-taker in that series – taking 13 scalps in 2 Tests at an incredible average of 9.23
Bumrah was quite unplayable in those couple of Tests, as Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, and Roston Chase found out in the second of those Tests. They became the victims of the pacer’s sheer pace and skill – swing and seam movement at the absolutely immaculate line and length – in his maiden Test hat-trick, which was also the first hat-trick of the ICC WTC 2019-21.
Bravo was caught behind in the slips, while Brooks and Chase were dismissed lbw; the third wicket in this hat-trick came via use of DRS by Virat Kohli. Bumrah became the third Indian bowler to take a Test hat-trick, after Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan.
Naseem Shah vs Bangladesh, 2020
Naseem Shah, the teenage sensation fast bowler from Pakistan, is the youngest bowler, aged 16, to grab a Test hat-trick. He got the better of three Bangladesh batsmen – Najmul Hossain Shanto, Taijul Islam, and Mahmudullah – in the second innings of the Rawalpindi Test last year. Shanto and Taijul were dismissed lbw, while Mahmudullah was caught in the slip.
Only four other Pakistani bowlers have taken a Test hat-trick before Naseem – two for Wasim Akram and one apiece by Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Sami. In his 9 Test career hitherto, Naseem Shah has taken 20 wickets at a rather high average of 42.25.
Keshav Maharaj vs West Indies, 2021
On June 21, at Gros Islet in St Lucia Keshav Maharaj became only the second-ever South African bowler to take a Test match hat-trick, since Geoff Griffin versus England at Lord’s in 1960.
Maharaj had the wickets of Kieran Powell, Jason Holder, and Joshua Da Silva in his hat-trick in the West Indies’ second innings of the second Test. Left-handed opener Powell, who had batted well for his fifty, was caught at deep mid-wicket playing a needless slog; Holder tried to used his long reach to defend the delivery, but it took the inside edge of his bat and was sharply taken at short leg.
Maharaj was a tad lucky with the hat-trick completing wicket, that of Da Silva. The batsman could have easily left the delivery which was sliding down the leg side, but Da Silva poked it – once again an inside edge was elicited, for the leg slip fielder to take a stunning one-handed low catch, handing the spinner his hat-trick, the third of this ICC WTC cycle.
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