11 World Cups: Australia 5, Rest of the World 6.
Another World Cup ends in tears for every neutral cricket fan in the universe. Apart from the tens of 300+ scores, double centuries, batting records and bowling masterclasses, the World Cup thankfully also threw up fascinating ‘best of’ lists:
Best game: South Africa v/s New Zealand (Semifinals)
No questions about this one. Will go down as one of the all-time ODI classics, for its importance and what was at stake for both teams, and once again it is South Africa at the receiving end in this one. That’s three best-of-all-time matches for the Proteas now: 1999 semifinal, ‘that’ 2006 434 game, and now this. Cricket is always a better place with an underachieving South African team in its midst. This match also confirmed the trend of the middle-aged experienced hero in cricket. Grant Elliott for NZ this time, otherwise it was Vettori, Sangakkara, Dilshan, McCullum and many 30+ superheroes who displayed that age is but a number.
Best player: Mitchell Starc
Steve Smith was a close candidate, but Starc ripped through batting lineups in a World Cup dominated by batting. His raw pace, consistency, shockingly low economy rates, late swing and unsettling accuracy made him the best bowler of this World Cup, with 21 wickets, just ahead of Trent Boult’s more expensive 21 wickets.
Best batsman: Steve Smith
5 consecutive half centuries (including 1 century) on the trot, 3 of them in knockout games, after a disappointing start to the World Cup. The Summer of Smith continued, as Australia established itself once again as a superpower, with Smith destined to take over as ODI captain after a legendary season of batsmanship.
Best captain: Brendon McCullum
He failed in the final, but excited the world with his ultra-aggressive captaincy and madcap batting at the top. Clarke and Dhoni were close contenders, but McCullum almost did what Ranatunga managed in ’96. He fell a step too short, but introduced New Zealand cricket back to the world in an era where cricket desperately needs a breath of fresh air.
TEAM OF THE WORLD CUP:
Brendon McCullum ©, Martin Guptill, Steve Smith, Kumara Sangakkara, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Starc, Trent Boult, Wahab Riaz
12th man: R. Ashwin
FLOP TEAM of the WORLD CUP:
Ahmed Shehzad, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Eoin Morgan, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Ravindra Jadeja, Dale Steyn, Stuart Broad, Vernon Philander
12th man: English Team
Upcoming Players expected to hit back hard in 2019:
Jimmy Neesham (NZ), Pat Cummins (Aus), Kyle Abbott (SA), Adam Milne (NZ), Sanju Samson (IND), Prithvi Shaw (IND), Kushal Perrera (SL), Matt Henry (NZ), de Kock (SA), Joss Butler (ENG), Sarfaraz Nawaz (PAK), Mitchell Marsh (AUS)
High profile ODI retirements in 2015 WC:
Kumara Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Daniel Vettori, Michael Clarke, Misbah Ul Haq, Shahid Afridi.
Possibilities: Chris Gayle, Grant Elliott, Ross Taylor, Mohd Irfann, James Anderson.