The leap, catch and legend that shook the 2007 World Cup

 

THE World Cup is upon us and there's plenty to be excited about.

With the 10 best teams on the planet squaring off in a Battle Royale, you can expect to see some world-class cricket over the next two months.

But one thing the structure of this edition of the tournament dictates is that we will almost certainly be denied the emergence of a genuine cult figure, an unheralded hero appearing as if out of nowhere, which makes the whole show poorer.

 That magical beast, in a variety of forms, has built a strong legacy at World Cups over the years.

Think Afghanistan's Hamid Hassan, who rocked the hairband as he cartwheeled his way into our hearts in 2015.

Or Rudie van Vuuren - the only man to compete in two World Cups, in different sports, in the same year, when he represented Namibia in both cricket and rugby in 2003..

Bermuda's 130kg spinner, Dwayne Leverock.
Bermuda's 130kg spinner, Dwayne Leverock.

Minnow nations, it's true, did serve up more than the odd one-sided result. The sort of performances that will live on in record books like Glenn McGrath's ridiculous 7-15 against Namibia in 2003, or Andy Bichel's 7-20 against that plucky underdog nation, England, at the same World Cup.

But they also gave us the wonderful storylines we never knew we needed - or even wanted.

In short, the fact that there will be no 2019 version of Dwayne Leverock is a crying shame.

BIG MAN, SMALL FOOTPRINT

Leading into the 2007 World Cup, if you knew about Leverock then you were truly a cricket trainspotter.

Not many punters had seen is performances at - and before - the ICC Trophy in 2005, a tournament involving 12 associate members of the ICC, with five spots at the World Cup on offer.

Leverock was largely unknown ahead of the 2007 World Cup.
Leverock was largely unknown ahead of the 2007 World Cup.

Ahead of that tournament, Leverock bamboozled England in a warm-up fixture where he claimed the wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood to register figures of 2-32.

Suddenly the big bopper was less novelty and more "real deal".

But for all intents and purposes, the then 35-year-old had played just 17 ODIs prior to lugging his large frame on to Queen's Park Oval for Bermuda's opening World Cup clash against Sri Lanka.

To his name were 18 wickets, including a career-best 5-53 against Kenya the year prior.

And yet when Bermuda faced the might of India in their second game of the World Cup, many eyeballs were naturally drawn to the imposing figure perched at first slip - that of the prison van-driving hero of our story.

A WEIGHTY CONSIDERATION

Now, there's no doubting that Leverock's waistline has dominated the narrative in his cricket career.

It's the reason we're still talking about him now - footage of a 130kg man gracefully soaring to his right to pluck a one-handed grab out of the air is the stuff that everyone can get excited about.

But more than that, it was the story of his whole career to that point.

Running between the pegs was never something that Leverock relished.
Running between the pegs was never something that Leverock relished.

This is a man who once dropped more than 20kg - having blown out a touch after living above an Indian restaurant, with another across the road - after being told his weight was holding back any chance he had on the field.

He was a player who could swing the willow - with gusto, truth be told - but was less fond of scampering between wickets. He favoured instead an all-or-nothing strategy that boiled down to finding the fence or finding nothing.

So when Malachi Jones sent down his first delivery in World Cup cricket, in the second over of Bermuda's clash with international powerhouse India, and managed to draw an outside edge from the bat of opener Robin Uthappa, attention quickly turned to the slips cordon.

Or, more specifically to Leverock, who was perched at a wide-ish first slip - but immediately started making the move to his right as the ball looked to be slipping past where second slip might ordinarily be placed.

And rather than gaze at the ball as it sailed down to third man, Leverock went airborne, launched his body and plucked the ball from thin air with his right hand.

It truly was a thing of beauty.

A THING OF RAW BEAUTY

Ignore the fact that much of the elevation is in our minds - Leverock's right knee is essentially grazing the turf at all times - and you've got one of the all-time cricket catches.

Perhaps just as impressive as the catch is Leverock's celebration, with the big man - as surprised as the rest of the planet - charging off for a 100m victory dash around Queen's Park Oval.

Leverock’s heroics were sadly not enough to power Bermuda to victory.
Leverock’s heroics were sadly not enough to power Bermuda to victory.

The unbridled joy, the brief moment in time where battlers let their minds drift to thoughts of an epic upset and the everyday man who captured the world's attention - it was everything that was great about World Cup cricket.

As for the match, lost in the glory of Leverock, his gravity-defying grab and the glorious freewheeling celebration, is the end result.

Did this moment of mind-boggling greatness inspire the plucky Bermudans to an upset of epic proportions?

Sadly that tale doesn't have a happy ending.

Despite the early scalp of Uthappa, India recovered to post a monster target of 5-413 on the back of a blazing century to Virender Sehwag and some destructive hitting from Yuvrav Singh - who hit seven sixes in his 46-ball 83 before becoming Leverock's maiden World Cup scalp.

Side note: coincidentally it was Jones who took the catch on the boundary to dismiss Yuvraj, repaying the favour for Leverock's screamer at second slip earlier in the day - although the fast bowler's effort would be filed under "regulation" rather than "World Cup classic".

Bermuda's batsmen never stood a chance in the chase, crumbling to be 2-18 in the seventh over.

Despite veteran David Hemp playing a lone hand, finishing unbeaten on 78, Bermuda were all out for 156.

The 257-run defeat was the biggest in World Cup history. And sadly, our man Dwayne couldn't perform any miracles with the bat - finishing with a stoic nine from 31 deliveries.

But in decades to come, the punters will only ever remember his giant right paw latching on to a catch he had no right to get near.

Victories, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder.

News Corp Australia


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