World Cup: Josh Davey among tournament’s leading wicket-takers

~JoshThe World Cup is just three games old for Josh Davey, but already the Somerset all-rounder finds himself among the leading wicket-takers in the tournament.

After his third game, a last over thriller against Afghanistan last week, he was the second highest wicket taker in the World Cup rankings. He is now in fourth place, still ahead of the likes of the experienced Vettori, Finn and Malinga, all of whom have played one more game each.

The quietly spoken Davey has seemed far from fazed by the big occasion, keeping a cool head to pick up nine wickets at just 15.77 apiece in 27 overs with a strike rate of 18.

His lack of pace has sometimes failed to trouble experienced opposition batsmen who have punished anything short and wide and some of his wickets have come from catches on the boundary in the latter stages of the innings. His nine wides in the game against England possibly betrayed some nerves. However he has adapted very well to conditions down under, worked out the right length to bowl and earned deserved plaudits for sensible, tight bowling.

The Scotland team will have been gutted not to record their first World Cup win against Afghanistan last week having had their fellow associates on the ropes. However Davey can look back on the match with fondness having collected his 50th cap for Scotland at the start of the game, presented by skipper Preston Mommsen.

Those 50 games include 21 full one-day international appearances in which Davey now has 37 wickets at just 18.18 apiece.

Below, we take a look back at his tournament so far and wish him well for Scotland’s next game against Bangladesh this Thursday.

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Scotland v New Zealand

Davey’s tournament started with three wickets in a losing cause as Scotland went down to hosts New Zealand at the University Oval in Dunedin on 17 February.

After dismissing Scotland for just 142 (Davey 11*), New Zealand set out to chase down the modest total in quick time to boost their net run rate, something which may prove crucial later on in securing a home quarter final.

They looked in little trouble, passing 100 at six runs an over for the loss of three wickets before Davey claimed his first wicket of the competition. It was a big one too, as top scorer Kane Williamson was caught behind off an inside edge hitting across the line for 38. When Grant Elliott was also caught behind off Iain Wardlaw, New Zealand were in trouble at 117-5 at the end of the 21st over.

They should still have won with comfort, but continued to make life difficult for themselves. Davey should have picked up Corey Anderson earlier than he did, but the big-hitting all-rounder was put down on the fine-leg boundary by Wardlaw. The mistake did not prove too costly as Wardlaw made amends shortly afterwards by taking a catch in the same position to leave New Zealand six down.

Anderson’s was the first of two wickets for Davey in the 24th. Two balls later, with six needed to win, Luke Ronchi was caught by Hamish Gardiner for 12 on the midwicket boundary attempting to win the match with a single blow. Daniel Vettori and Adam Milne eventually knocked off the remaining runs in the next over to record a nervy three-wicket victory for the hosts.

Scotland v England

Scotland’s next game at Christchurch came against a demoralised England, fresh from defeats to the two host nations, but determined to put a win on the board and prove a few points to their critics.

England got off to a solid start, posting 172 for the first wicket as Moeen Ali scored England’s first century of the tournament. Davey received some harsh treatment from Moeen, although he almost picked up the left-hander on 7 when he drove the ball uppishly into the covers, only for the ball to drop short of the fielder.

Once Moeen was out, England lost three wickets for two runs in two overs, Davey getting an excellent delivery to move away outside off and draw the edge from Joe Root.

England captain Eoin Morgan, who had come into the game on the back of a poor run of form, took the attack to the Scotland bowlers, determined to play himself back into touch. He drove Davey powerfully for four on his arrival at the crease and later hoiked him to cow corner for four more as England moved past 250.

But Davey stopped England’s momentum when he had James Taylor brilliantly stumped by Matthew Cross. As the batsman advanced down the wicket, Davey pushed a full delivery wide, only for Cross to move across, take the ball and whip off the bails before Taylor could make his ground.

Jos Buttler took three boundaries off Davey, but the bowler had the final word when the former Somerset keeper-batsman hit the ball straight into his hands at long-off.

Davey finally picked up Morgan’s wicket in the 50th over when he skied one off a leading edge, which was excellently taken by a diving Preston Mommsen just outside the circle.

Davey struck again next ball, as Woakes skied another one. Attempting to dispatch the ball to the legside boundary, the Warwickshire man could only hit the ball off the leading edge into the offside, where Mommsen hung on to another steepler, falling backwards at extra cover.

Davey was denied a hat-trick when Stuart Broad ran a leg bye, but could be very proud of figures of 4-68, without which England might have posted a more imposing total.

“It was one of those days where everything goes your way,” he said modestly later.

Despite 71 from Kyle Coetzer, England’s total proved beyond Scotland and they were eventually dismissed for 184 in 42.2 overs (Davey 9).

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Scotland v Afghanistan

Encounters between associate nations have thrown up some of the closest matches of the World Cup tournament and this was one of the most thrilling so far.

After posting a modest 210 in their 50 overs, Scotland had Afghanistan 132-8 after 35 overs – including a spell of 5.3 overs where they lost five wickets for 18 runs. Scotland however could only rue lost opportunities as Samiullah Shenwari, dropped early in his innings, took his side to the brink of victory with a superb 96. When he was out at the end of the 47th over though, Scotland were still favourites. Afghanistan still needed another 19 to win with the last two at the crease. In a nail-biting finish, they eventually squeezed home with just three balls to spare to record their first World Cup win by one wicket.

Davey picked up two key wickets in the Afghan collapse in the middle of their innings. He had experienced Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi adjudged lbw with a full ball on leg stump for 1 (upheld on DRS) to leave his side 88-4. Three overs later Davey had Gulbadin Naib caught at slip with a short ball which took the batsman by surprise and drew the edge. He finished with figures of 10-1-43-2.

Later in the innings Davey took a superbly judged catch on the boundary to dismiss Shenwari who had hit three sixes in the same over and was attempting another.

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