First Ball Wickets in ODI World Cup Matches

Taking a wicket with the very first ball of an ODI World Cup match is one of the rarest feats in cricket. Only a handful of elite bowlers have accomplished this, showcasing their skills on the biggest stage. As the ICC World Cup 2023 kicks off, let’s take a look at the exclusive club of fast bowlers who have struck gold right away by dismissing a batsman with the first ball of the match.

First Ball Wickets in ODI World Cup Matches

A wicket off the first ball builds pressure instantly and gives the bowling team an early advantage. It can set the tone for the rest of the match. Bowlers dream of making such an impactful start in a crucial World Cup encounter. But it requires immense skill, control and nerve to execute it under high stakes.

Why First Ball Wickets are Rare in World Cup Matches

World Cup matches bring together the best teams and players in the world. Batting greats are extra cautious at the start of the innings as focus is very high. They play out the first few overs carefully to get set. Bowlers also take time to find their rhythm.

Furthermore, ODI wickets are usually batter-friendly with good batting tracks. The new ball doesn’t swing much either. So taking a wicket right away requires extraordinary ability.

That’s why first ball wickets are so rare in World Cups. Let’s look at the elite club of bowlers who have achieved this feat over the years.

Bowlers Who Have Taken a Wicket with the First Ball in ODI World Cup History

Here are the bowlers who have drawn first blood and struck immediately with the new ball in World Cup matches:

  • Craig McDermott (Australia) – Dismissed New Zealand opener John Wright in 1992
  • Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka) – Removed Bangladesh’s Hannan Sarkar in 2003
  • Khurram Chohan (Canada) – Got Zimbabwe’s Brendan Taylor out in 2011
  • Sheldon Cottrell (West Indies) – Clean bowled New Zealand’s Martin Guptill in 2019
  • Kagiso Rabada (South Africa) – Trapped Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne lbw in 2019
  • Trent Boult (New Zealand) – Dismissed Bangladesh’s Litton Das in 2023
  • Jasprit Bumrah (India) – Dismissed Sri Lanka’s Pathum Nissanka in 2023

As we can see, this elite club has some of the best fast bowlers across generations. Let’s look at each instance in more detail.

Revisiting Each First Ball Wicket in ODI World Cup History

1. Craig McDermott Remembers His Special Wicket in 1992

Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott etched his name in history books by dismissing Kiwi opener John Wright off the very first ball of the 1992 World Cup match.

McDermott steamed in and produced a peach of an out swinging delivery. It moved away late from the tentative Wright who edged it to the wicket-keeper.

The pacer reminisced later about this special wicket, “It was a great thrill to take a wicket first ball in a World Cup match. I wanted to come hard at them right away and set the tone. Fortunately, I executed it well and celebrated enthusiastically with teammates.”

2. Vaas Strikes First Ball on World Cup Debut in 2003

Sri Lankan swing master Chaminda Vaas achieved the rare feat on his World Cup debut in 2003. Up against Bangladesh in Pietermaritzburg, Vaas knocked over Hannan Sarkar’s off-stump first ball.

It was a sharp inswinging delivery that jagged back in sharply to beat Sarkar’s tentative push. Vaas described the wicket as a dream start for him. He went on to take 26 wickets in that World Cup, emerging as the leading wicket-taker.

3. Minnows Canada Get a Taste of the Big Stage in 2011

At the 2011 World Cup, minnows Canada came up against giants Zimbabwe in their opening match. Zimbabwe pacers set the tone upfront, with off-spinner Ray Price striking gold first ball.

He produced a terrific arm ball to castle Canadian opener Rizwan Cheema. It underlined the gulf in class between minnows and full members.

4. Cottrell’s Salute Starts off 2019 World Cup in Style

West Indian fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell made a thundering start to the 2019 World Cup. In the opening match against New Zealand, Cottrell uprooted Martin Guptill’s off-stump with a lethal inswinging yorker first up.

He sent the Kiwi opener packing for a golden duck. Cottrell then broke into his iconic celebratory salute, signaling the arrival of the Caribbean team.

5. Rabada Topples Karunaratne’s Stumps First Ball in 2019

South African spearhead Kagiso Rabada joined the elite list against Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup. He produced a fast inswinging ball to beat Dimuth Karunaratne’s forward prod and trap him lbw first ball.

It underlined Rabada’s phenomenal control with the new ball. He generated just enough movement to dismiss the Lankan skipper right away.

6. Boult Strikes First Ball in 2023 World Cup vs Bangladesh

The latest entrant to this exclusive club is New Zealand’s Trent Boult. In the 2023 World Cup match against Bangladesh, Boult knocked over opener Litton Das’ stumps first ball.

It was a superb outswinger that shaped away late from Das’ defensive poke. The left-armer got one to seam away perfectly to claim a vital early breakthrough.

Boult now has 3 first ball wickets in ODIs, having previously dismissed England’s Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow. This was his first in World Cups.

7. Boult Strikes First Ball in 2023 World Cup vs Sri Lanka

The most recent bowler to achieve this feat is Jasprit Bumrah, who dismissed Pathum Nissanka in the 2023 ODI World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka. Bumrah became the first Indian bowler to take a wicket with the first ball of an ODI World Cup match.

Other Notable First Ball Wickets in World Cup History

Though not technically first ball of the match, there have been some other outstanding wickets taken with the first ball of a World Cup innings:

  • Ian Harvey (Australia) dismissed Brian Lara (WI) first ball in the 1996 World Cup after West Indies elected to bat
  • Chaminda Vaas (SL) bowled Mohammad Hafeez (Pak) first ball in the 2007 World Cup after Pakistan chose to bat
  • Lasith Malinga (SL) removed Aaron Finch (Aus) first ball in the 2011 World Cup after Australia elected to bat

Bowlers With Most First-Ball Wickets in ODI cricket

RankBowlerCountryNumber of Occurrences
1Chaminda VaasSri Lanka5 times
2Zaheer KhanIndia4 times
Wasim AkramPakistan4 times
3Nuwan KulasekaraSri Lanka3 times
Mitchell StarcAustralia3 times
Trent BoultNew Zealand3 times
Shaun PollockSouth Africa3 times
Craig McDermottAustralia3 times

Who was the first bowler to take a wicket off the first ball in World Cup history?

Australian pacer Craig McDermott was the first to achieve this feat when he dismissed New Zealand’s John Wright in the 1992 World Cup.

Who has taken the most first ball wickets in ODI cricket?

Sri Lankan swing bowler Chaminda Vaas holds the record with 5 first ball wickets in ODIs.

Who dismissed Aaron Finch off the first ball in a World Cup match?

Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga knocked over Aaron Finch first ball at the 2011 World Cup after Australia chose to bat.

Who was Trent Boult’s first ball victim at the 2023 World Cup?

Boult dismissed Bangladesh opener Litton Das off the first delivery at the ongoing 2023 World Cup.

Which bowlers could take a first ball wicket at the 2023 World Cup?

Bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada, Shaheen Afridi and Lockie Ferguson have the skills to achieve this rare feat at the 2023 World Cup.

Rivcky John

A prominent figure in sports journalism for the last two decades. Cricket Analyst & Writing News, Features, Match Previews/Reviews/Reports, And Opinion Pieces on Cricket. You can connect with him on Facebook also.