T20 World Cup: Curtis Campher takes four wickets in four balls for Ireland

Bowler matches Lasith Malinga and Rashid Khan with remarkable haul during win over Netherlands in Abu Dhabi

T20 World Cup history was made on the day of Abu Dhabi’s first involvement in the competition.

It was not, in fact, the record for how many international cricketers you can fit onto one site all at once, although at times it did feel that way.

Such was the surfeit of action in the capital, it was difficult to know where to look for a lot of the time.

Instead, the headline act was Curtis Campher, a 22-year-old seam bowler who is making his way in international cricket for Ireland, who matched a feat only previously achieved by Lasith Malinga and Rashid Khan.

He took four wickets in consecutive deliveries to entirely alter the complexion of the opening match at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in this tournament.

It was the first time that has been done in 20-over World Cups. Only the two greats, Malinga — who managed it twice for Sri Lanka — and Rashid Khan have managed it before at all in international cricket.

Campher’s effort was central to Ireland’s seven-wicket win over the Netherlands, who were bowled out for 106 off the final ball of their 20 overs.

His initial salvo in the game provided little clue as to what was to follow. His opening over was errant, as he went for two fours and sent down a wide.

“After my first over I apologised to [captain Andy Balbirnie], and he said, ‘Don’t even worry about it, mate’,” Campher said.

“Everyone knows you have to bowl straight. If you bowl five on the wide line, I don’t think he has to explain that to us.”

Even the first wicket in his record streak owed something to good fortune. The delivery was short and wide down legside, and was initially signalled as such by the umpire.

He persuaded Balbirnie to review, and the replay showed Colin Ackermann had gloved a catch behind.

What followed was remarkable. Campher trapped Ryan ten Doeschate lbw next ball, then did the same to Scott Edwards. Roelof van der Merwe played on to the fourth ball of the sequence.

“[My heart] was racing quite high, but I just took a few deep breaths at the top of my run up and made sure I managed my skills,” Campher said of his thoughts before the hat-trick ball.

“After that over, I didn’t really finish the last overs as I’d have wanted to. I am learning, I am young, I am just trying to do the best I can.”

While all that was unfolding inside the main ground, over the mound at midwicket the Tolerance Oval was playing host to its biggest cricket to date.

The ground has been redeveloped before this tournament, and will have capacity for 12,000 once spectators are officially admitted in.

It is hosting warm up matches for the sides starting in the Super 12 next week. First up at the new ground, South Africa swatted aside Afghanistan.

Aiden Markram, fresh from the Indian Premier League with Punjab Kings, hit 48 and Tabraiz Shamsi picked up three wickets as the Proteas beat the Afghans by 41 runs.

That was followed by a warm-up match between Australia and New Zealand. David Warner’s miserable run of form continued, following on from being dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL.

He made a golden duck against New Zealand, but Australia still earned a three-wicket win, chasing 159 to win with a ball to spare.

The competitive action concluded in the main stadium with Namibia falling short in their bid to cause an upset against Sri Lanka in the opening round.

Sri Lanka won the title in 2014. Although they are some way short of that vintage now, they had enough to overpower the lowest-ranked side in the competition.

Maheesh Theekshana took three wickets as Namibia were bowled out for 96, and Sri Lanka chased it successful with seven wickets and six-and-a-half overs left over.

Updated: October 18th 2021, 5:40 PM