Rihanna, bees and a comedy collision - the best moments of the Cricket World Cup group stage

By Sports Desk July 07, 2019

After five arduous weeks, the Cricket World Cup group stage has reached its climax and four teams are left standing.

Hosts and pre-tournament favourites England briefly flirted with a disappointing early exit before rallying to beat India and New Zealand and reach the last four.

Lying in wait are old rivals Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday, while India and New Zealand will do battle first in Manchester in two days' time.

But before we sit back and take in the final acts of a hugely enjoyable tournament, let's review the thrills and spills (and a couple of comedy moments) of an enthralling group stage.

 

Rihanna delights in Durham

Over a decade ago, Rihanna's smash hit 'Umbrella' enjoyed an extended stay at the top of the UK album charts but there was no need for the brollies at Durham as West Indies faced off with Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, the Barbados-born popstar saw the Windies beaten by 23 runs, but there was a tearful reunion with assistant coach Roddy Eastwick – a former school teacher of Rihanna's. 


Bees create buzz at The Riverside

An unbroken 175-run stand between Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis stung Sri Lanka at The Riverside.

But it was a swarm of bees that created quite the buzz on social media. The honey-loving insects caused a sudden delay, with players having to hit the deck to take evasive action.


Roy clatters Wilson

We are very, very, very sorry Joel Wilson…but this was undoubtedly hilarious.

Jason Roy brought up a century in England's beating of Bangladesh but, while tracking the progress of the ball, did not see the poor, unaware umpire who was completely clattered by the opener in comical scenes.

Once back to his feet, a slightly sheepish Wilson saw the funny side.


Bairstow answers critics head on

England's defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia drew plenty of criticism at home, not least from Michael Vaughan, which led to an unsavoury back-and-forth with Jonny Bairstow.

But Bairstow responded in impressive fashion, making centuries against India and New Zealand to help England progress to the last four.

Celebrating that latter century, Bairstow rubbed his hair in a seemingly light-hearted jibe at Vaughan's previous treatment to bolster his hairline.


Stokes or Woakes?

Two stunning catches, but who did it better – Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes?

All-rounder Stokes plucked a stunning one-hander in the deep off Andile Phehlukwayo in the tournament's opening match between England and South Africa at The Oval.

Not to be outdone, Woakes took a brilliant full-length dive on the boundary to send Rishabh Pant packing in England's much-needed win over India. Superman, eat your heart out.


Hat-trick heroes

Afghanistan had the chance for a famous upset against India at the Rose Bowl. Twelve runs were needed off four deliveries…enter Mohammed Shami.

The paceman took the vital wicket of dangerman Mohammad Nabi and followed up with the scalps of Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman to end Afghanistan's hopes. Three wickets in three balls.

New Zealand lost out to trans-Tasman rivals Australia at Lord's, but Trent Boult had individual reason to celebrate with a hat-trick of his own.

A stunning finish in the final over of Australia's innings saw Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff fall to full, in-swinging deliveries.

Boult, who has donated the ball to the MCC Museum, had to endure a nervy wait after a Behrendorff review.


Starc brilliance takes down Stokes

England made a dismal start in their pursuit of 286 against Australia at Lord's, slumping to 53-4.

Ben Stokes' courageous 89 threatened a fightback at the Home of Cricket. That was until Mitchell Starc's unplayable yorker swung in late to rattle the base of the stumps to end Stokes' resilience and England's chances of victory.


Pakistan deny Afghanistan

Afghanistan finished without a point after the group games but will rue a couple of missed opportunities – not least versus Pakistan, who slumped to 156-6 chasing 228 at Headingley. 

But captain Gulbadin Naib gave up 18 costly runs in the 46th over and Pakistan edged home with a couple of balls to spare against the underdogs in a dramatic finale.


Farewell Chris

Chris Gayle's final World Cup did not exactly go to plan. The explosive batsman made 242 runs from nine innings as West Indies – fancied by many to challenge – crashed out.

His final knock against Afghanistan yielded just seven runs, but there was time for some typical flamboyance when the charismatic Gayle celebrated a low catch with some press-ups.

A tidy turn with his occasional off-spin also yielded 1-28 and the 39-year-old lapped up the acclaim at stumps.

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  • Angry Henderson slams Bulgaria boss' racism denial Angry Henderson slams Bulgaria boss' racism denial

    Jordan Henderson demanded an apology from Krasimir Balakov after the Bulgaria head coach did not offer outright condemnation of the racist abuse directed towards England players during their 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Sofia.

    Play was stopped twice before half-time during a comfortable victory for Gareth Southgate's men on Monday, with an address over the Vasil Levski National Stadium urging an end to racist chanting before a number of Bulgaria fans were removed from the ground.

    England players informed the match officials of the discriminatory behaviour and an abandonment looked possible at one stage, although Harry Kane would ultimately round out an emphatic scoreline set in motion by Marcus Rashford's blistering opener and embellished by braces from Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley.

    Henderson exchanged words with Balakov during one of the breaks in play and was aghast when he heard the 53-year-old had stated after the game that the allegations of racism must be "proven", choosing instead to criticise the behaviour of England supporters and a pre-match focus upon a potential for racist incidents.

    "I had a few words with the manager. It wasn't acceptable – something needs to be done," the Liverpool captain told Sky Sports News.

    "He needs to apologise now, really, on behalf of the team and the fans. He knows what was going on. He was asking me what the problem was.

    "When I told him he knew what was going on, it was baffling how he didn't, really. Hopefully he looks back and apologises because anyone watching that game would be disgusted really."

    England discussed whether they should resume the match at half-time and Henderson, angered by what had transpired, took pride in their unanimous response in the face of adversity.

    "I felt angry," he said. "They're my team-mates, my friends who I've known for a long time and I share a dressing room with.

    "It was shocking to see. I was so angry at one point but the game goes on, you've got to switch the focus to the football.

    "At half-time we spoke about it, we wanted to carry on. If one person said they didn't want to go out then we wouldn't have done and that would have been it.

    "But everybody's message was we wanted to make them suffer and not make them win. I felt we did that brilliantly."

  • Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria

    Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out has slammed UEFA for its handling of England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria, and its previous punishments for racial abuse.

    England's 6-0 win on Monday was halted twice in the first half, with the match seemingly set to be abandoned amid chants from sections of Bulgaria's support at Vasil Levski National Stadium, which was partially shut due to previous incidents of racist abuse from some home supporters.

    Gareth Southgate's England elected to come back out for the second half, with a group of Bulgaria fans ejected from the ground during the second stoppage.

    During the first stoppage, a message was read out over the public address system – following UEFA's three-step protocol for tackling incidents of abuse at games.

    However, Kick It Out has questioned why the protocol was not followed afterwards, while criticising UEFA's attempts at tackling racism.

    "We are sickened by the disgusting racist abuse directed at England men's team tonight by Bulgaria supporters – including TV footage which appeared to show Nazi salutes and monkey noises," Kick It Out stated.

    "We applaud Gareth Southgate, his staff and players for the actions taken in reporting the abhorrent abuse, and offer our full support to the entire squad, their families and anyone affected by those appalling scenes.

    "We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren't sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules.

    "TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

    "It's now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action.

    "The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA's sanctions are not fit for purpose.

    "There can be no more pitiful fines or short stadium bans. If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination – and if the Equal Game campaign means anything – then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow."

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