WC 2003 - Bichel answers call in style, scalps 2nd best figures

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2003, 20:13 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: Australian paceman Andy Bichel stepped out of the shadows to grab the World Cup limelight on Sunday when he took seven for 20 against England to record the second best ever figures in the history of the tournament.

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Bichel was selected to play instead of the injured Jason Gillespie and answered his country's call with a devastating performance with the ball which gave him second place on the all-time World Cup list, just behind teammate Glenn McGrath who set the record of seven for 15 against Namibia in Potchefstroom on February 27.On the all-time One-day list, Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas still leads the way with eight for 19 against Zimbabwe in Colombo in 2001/02.Despite taking three wickets against the Netherlands and two against Namibia, Bichel is still very much the support act here for McGrath, Gillespie and Brett Lee.

The 32-year-old fast-medium bowler, whose aggressive batting makes him a useful man to have coming in lower down the order in a one-day match, rarely lets his captain down when called upon.In his seven Tests, spread over a period of five years, Bichel's 17 wickets have come at a respectable average of 32.29 with a best of five for 60 against the West Indies at Melbourne in 2000-01.Unfortunately for Bichel, it has been his bad luck that his international career has coincided with those of McGrath and Gillespie, one of the most effective new-ball combinations in world cricket.

Not that Bichel, who enjoyed great success on the English county circuit with Worcestershire, was ideally ever quite quick enough to open the attack. However, with Paul Reiffel taking the third seamer role for Australia early in Bichel's career, his international chances have been further reduced by the emergence of out and out speedster Lee.And adding to Bichel's, not to mention Damien Fleming's misfortune, has been a general drift against swing bowling at anything other than top pace. Speed and sharp spin are what win games these days and, given Australia's record, it's a hard theory to argue against.But while others may feel sorry on his behalf, Bichel shows no sign of feeling sorry for himself - he's a man who enjoys cricket.Copyright AFP 2001

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