It was a World Cup of revolutionary batting, massive scores, fantastic fans and an unfortunate anti-climax of a final. However this year’s edition of the competition was arguably the best and most entertaining yet. Australia and New Zealand’s co-hosting of the event was to be applauded, with great crowds and weather providing the perfect format for a successful tournament. The 2 nations also played out the final showpiece at the MCG on Sunday, in front of approximately 93,000 fans, who witnessed the Aussies over-coming their Tasman rivals to secure a record 5th title.
The batters did dominate the bowlers, much to the fans entertainment. Such one sidedness could have worrying consequences in the future, but for now we all loved the likes Brendan McCullum and AB De Villiers destroying all thrown their way. Both of the before mentioned men appear in my team of the tournament but below are the short list of other players, who best lit up the past 6 weeks of cricket for me.
1. Brendan McCullum (New Zealand) – The Black caps captain was at the very forefront of a New Zealand side who reached their first ever World Cup final. McCullum’s explosive batting opened the way for others to follow suit and most importantly gave his team a chance to build on a highly impressive plat form.
He may have failed to notch up a century but his big hitting thrilled crowds and left bowlers in despair. McCullum also set and lead the field magnificently. His aggressive captaincy was fed upon by his team mates as New Zealand show cased immense intensity throughout the competition.
2. Shikhar Dhawan (India) – Dhawan was simply sensational until unfortunately getting out for a low score when it really counted, in the semi-final. His knock vs South Africa in the pool stages was inspired and went a long way to leading his side to victory on that particular day. Almost through-out, he took bowlers to the cleaners and scored impressive totals.
3. Martin Guptill (New Zealand) – Considerably tame compared to opening batting partner McCullum, Guptill was always the steady hand throughout his side’s campaign, who generally got the highest totals. His 200 vs the West Indies was spectacular and record setting, providing a plat form for New Zealand to go and finish off the job in the last quarter-final.
4. Kumar Sangakarra (Sri Lanka) – The old man most certainly still has it! Sangakarra’s Sri Lanka may have exited at the last 8 stage but some of his pool stage knocks were memorable. He secured 4 tons in a row vs Bangladesh, Scotland, England and Australia. The great man retired at the end of the tournament but his legacy is confirmed as one of the all-time greats, no doubt about it.
5. Steve Smith (Australia) – Smith was Australia’s most consistent batsmen during their triumphant road to glory. This fact was summed up by his 5 half centuries in a row, from last 2 pool games until the final itself vs New Zealand.
He came in on many occasions when losing his wicket could have caused the Aussies some serious concerns, but he almost always stayed at the crease for lengthy amounts of time and provided impressive totals to add more security to his sides position in the match.
6. AB De Villiers (South Africa) – South Africa may have come up short again at an ICC tournament but this time they did not go out in shame, losing agonisingly closely to New Zealand in the semi-finals. De Villiers said he wanted to transform the way one day cricket was played last year and he has certainly succeeded in doing so, as he played some sensational cricket throughout the 6 weeks.
His record breaking knock vs the West Indies was De Villiers’ undoubted highlight but he was far from a one game wonder, providing a handful of magical batting displays, including in their last game against New Zealand.
7. Glenn Maxwell (Australia) – My pick as all-rounder, Maxwell most definitely produced with both bat and bowl. His hundred against Sri Lanka, the second fastest one day ton of all time, amongst many other examples of explosive hitting. Furthermore his spells with the ball, including in the final vs New Zealand, were to be admired. Another deserved world champion.
8. Daniel Vettori (New Zealand) – The legendary spinner retired after heart breaking final defeat but had a wonderful tournament, mainly in the pool stages. Vettori’s best spell came against the Australians first time round, as his tremendous bowling halted the previously rapid progress of the opponents and eventually swung the game round in his sides favour. He may not have had his best games in the semi-final or in tricky circumstances in the show piece, but the New Zealander was generally a highly reliable man for captain McCullum to call upon.
9. Mitchell Starc (Australia) – The man voted player of the tournament was simply sensational through-out. His first 2 performances against England and New Zealand were of the top calibre, providing a nail biting finish against the Black Caps with one of the most inspiring bowling spells of the World Cup.
He continued his outstanding form into the knock-out stages and kept up the good work – knocking up great statistics against Pakistan, India and then New Zealand.
10. Morné Morkel (South Africa) – Surprisingly Morkel outshone teammate Dale Steyn this World Cup, in his sides charge into the semi-finals. He managed to amass a total of 17 wickets and provided an impressive overall economy rate. The big man’s semi-final showing against New Zealand was a stand-out moment for myself, shining on a bitterly disappointing night for the South Africans.
11. Trent Boult (New Zealand) – Boult was tremendous. His performance against Australia in Pool A was electric and he was consistently his side’s best bowler by a considerable margin. He finished with stats only beaten by Mitchell Starc, putting himself out there as one of the best pace men in the world.
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