Cricket was a bowler-dominated game in the past with uncovered wickets, slim bats, and less inadequate protective gear. But over the past few years it has become predominantly a batter’s game with the advent of the 20 overs format and the innovation in the batting equipment and techniques bowlers usually go for hammers and tonks, especially in the white ball format.
Still in the fast-paced and commercialized cricket bowlers have found their way to overcome and excel the attacking brand of cricket that is bestowed upon them by the batters. Under-19 cricket has been the stepping stone for many bowlers where they have showcased their prowess on a big stage and got themselves recognized as the next big thing in cricket.
Over the years, many budding bowlers have showcased their talent at this stage and some of them even went on to represent their respective nations. As the current edition of the Under-19 World Cup is in full swing, let’s have a look at the top three bowlers who have taken the most number of wickets in a single edition of the Under-19 World Cup in its history starting from bottom to top:
1. Reece Topley
The 6 ft 7 in bowler from England has now become a prominent force in the English white ball squad. The tall, lanky fast bowler from Essex represented England in the 2021 Under-19 World Cup held in Australia and straight away took the cricketing world by storm with his bowling prowess.
The left-arm seamer played six games for England in that edition and took 19 wickets at an astonishing average of 9.10. Interestingly, he managed to get at least 2 wickets in each of the six matches he played. His best figures of the tournament came against Bangladesh for the 5th spot game where he took 5 wickets for just 32 runs.
Topley made his debut for England back in 2015 and straight away impressed with his wicket-taking abilities. However, his career has been marred with injuries with prevented him from becoming the fore which could have, had he been fit throughout his career. Topley has featured in 29 ODIs and 25 T20Is for England to date and is still going strong.
2. Kwena Maphaka
South Africa is known for its pace bowling talent and has over the years produced some serious fast bowling talent. In the ongoing Under-19 World Cup as well, they have unleashed another serious bowling prodigy in the form of Kwena Maphaka.
Maphaka has been bowling sensationally in the Under-19 World Cup and has picked 21 wickets in the tournament at an immaculate average of 9.71 and a strike rate of 15.2, which is the best by any bowler in the history of Under-19 World Cup cricket.
Although Maphaka’s dream World Cup ended with a loss against India in the semi-finals but there also he again impressed everyone by picking three wickets. The standout feature of Maphaka's bowling undoubtedly lies in his lethal yorkers. His yorkers not only land with lightning speed but also showcases movement in the air before pitching which makes it even more difficult for the batter to get hold of it.
3. Enamul Haque
The record for most wickets in a single U-19 World Cup still belongs to Bangladeshi left-arm spinner Enamul Haque Jr. Back in the 2004 tournament held in Bangladesh, Haque Jr. spun magic, taking a whopping 22 wickets at an astonishing average of just 10.18 runs per wicket.
Interestingly, he had already played a Test match for Bangladesh before the U-19 World Cup! This experience translated beautifully into the 2004 Under-19 World Cup, where he dominated in his home conditions. Enamul Haque Jr. never went wicketless in any of his eight matches, even claiming a five-wicket haul against a powerful Australian team.
Unfortunately, despite his remarkable start, his international career wasn't as long as one might expect. He only played 15 Tests and 10 ODIs for Bangladesh, taking a total of 58 wickets. While his international career may have been short, Enamul Haque Jr.'s incredible record of most wickets in a single edition of the U-19 World Cup remains unmatched.