We have cricket again and while England’s predictable weather put a dampener on things, Shannon Gabriel didn’t take long to strike.
Today I’ll try my hand at the Best World Cup XI (plus reserves) from the northern hemisphere.
This includes players from England, the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan based on statistics in World Cup matches from 1975 to 2015.
Statistical criteria: A player should have scored 900 runs or more or taken 30 wickets or more in World Cup matches. For all-rounders, the criteria are not applied rigidly.
Players batting and bowling statistics are presented below in the two Tables below.
World Cup batsmen
|Sachin Tendulkar (Ind)||45||2278||152||56.95||88.98||6||15||27||12|
|Kumar Sangakkara (SL)||37||1532||124||56.74||86.55||5||7||14||41^|
|Brian Lara (WI)||34||1225||116||42.24||86.26||2||7||17||16|
|Sanath Jayasuriya (SL)||38||1165||120||34.26||90.66||3||6||27||18|
|Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL)||27||1112||161*||52.95||92.97||4||4||9||12|
|Mahela Jayawardene (SL)||40||1100||115*||35.48||85.93||4||5||12||16|
|Javed Miandad (Pak)||33||1083||103||43.32||68.02||1||8||3||10|
|Arvinda de Silva (SL)||35||1064||145||36.68||86.57||2||6||15||14|
|Viv Richards (WI)||23||1013||181||63.31||85.05||3||5||22||9|
|Sourav Ganguly (Ind)||21||1006||183||55.88||77.50||4||3||25||1|
|Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI)||31||970||102*||40.41||62.13||1||7||13||7|
|Arjuna Ranatunga (SL)||30||969||88*||46.14||80.95||0||7||7||7|
|Chris Gayle (WI)||26||944||215||37.76||91.11||2||4||37||13|
|Saeed Anwar (Pak)||21||915||113*||53.82||79.08||3||3||6||3|
Sangakkara also stumped 13 (a record).
World Cup bowlers
|Muttiah Muralitharan (SL)||39||71||7-15||18.19||3.96||27.5||2||0||5|
|Wasim Akram (Pak)||25||38||4-17||24.02||4.17||34.5||0||2||3|
|Chaminda Vaas (SL)||23||36||4-39||21.33||4.21||30.3||0||2||13|
|Zaheer Khan (Ind)||32||36||4-18||32.44||4.14||46.9||0||2||9|
|Javagal Srinath (Ind)||17||35||5-42||17.97||4.57||23.5||1||2||12|
|Lasith Malinga (SL)||21||34||4-27||19.23||4.12||27.9||0||2||8|
|Imran Khan (Pak)||18||34||4-39||21.50||5.35||24.0||0||1||2|
|Anil Kumble (Ind)||17||33||7-33||23.75||5.11||27.8||1||0||3|
|Ian Botham (Eng)||17||32||4-29||19.50||3.83||30.5||0||4||2|
|Shoaib Akhtar (Pak)||28||32||4-7||26.90||4.43||36.4||0||1||7|
|Shahid Afridi (Pak)||31||31||5-36||31.29||3.60||52.0||1||0||12|
Who will open the innings? India’s ever popular and prolific Sachin Tendulkar is a certainty, having scored most runs in World Cup (2278), hitting most centuries (six) and most fifties (15).
His opening partner will be Chris Gayle from the West Indies. His top score of 215 is second only to New Zealander Martin Guptil’s 237 not out. Gayle smashed 37 sixes – a record he shares with South Africa’s AB de Villiers.
The Windies Master Blasters Brian Lara and Vivian Richards swagger in at number 3 and 4 as the opposition captain places most of his fielders on the boundary line.
There are many candidates for number 5. I go for Pakistan’s Javed Miandad for his stylish batting. Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara comes in at number six. He scored 1532 runs at an impressive average of 56.74 and made most dismissals, 54 (41 caught and 13 stumped).
Who will captain the side? It will be the legendary all-rounder and future Prime Minister of Pakistan – Imran Khan. Apart from taking 34 wickets at 19.26 he also scored 666 runs at 35.05 hitting an unbeaten century. He led Pakistan to a World Cup win in Melbourne in 1991-92.
Team mate Wasim Akram will open the bowling with him.
We need three more bowlers, one seamer and two spinners. On statistics, Sri Lanka’s fast medium Chaminda Vaas cannot be bypassed. He captured 49 wickets at 21.22, once taking 6 for 25.
Another Sri Lankan, controversial off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, is a certainty. That leaves one spot for a leg-spinner. So in comes India’s leg-break and googly bowler Anil Kumble.
My choice is Sri Lanka’s left-hand opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya. With Tendulkar and Gayle to open the batting, Jayasuriya could not make it in the XI. He has impressive figures though. Apart from registering three centuries he also took 27 wickets.
One needs a good fielder to be an ideal 12th man and he held 18 catches, most catches for a non-wicketkeeper from the northern hemisphere.
Another opener, the venturesome Virender Sehwag (“Viru” to his admirers, “virulent” to opposition opening bowlers) misses out as he scored 843 runs, 57 short of reaching our criterion.
We need three reserves from six candidates below to select the Best XV:
Sri Lanka’s hairy, fiery fast-medium bowler Lasith ‘Slinga’ Malinga has a strong claim to be in the squad of 15. In 22 matches he captured 43 wickets at 21.11.
He is the only bowler to take two hat-tricks in the World Cup which include the unique achievement of taking four wickets in four balls.
Arvinda de Silva scored 1064 runs at 36.68 at a SR of 86.58 hitting two centuries (HS 145), six fifties and 15 sixes. India’s Sourav Ganguly scored 1006 runs at 55.88 hitting four centuries (HS 183), three fifties and 25 sixes.
Then there are two batsmen from Sri Lanka, the aggressive Tillakaratne Dilshan and the classy Mahela Jayawardene.
India’s all-rounder Kapil Dev has been edged out narrowly by Imran Khan. In 26 matches Kapil scored 669 runs at 37.16 with an impressive SR of 115.14, hit one century (175 not out) and one fifty and 14 sixes, took 28 wickets at 31.85, best bowling 5 for 43, ER 3.76, SR 50.7 and 12 catches.
England’s all-rounder Ian Botham scored 297 runs in 22 matches at an average of 18.56, SR of 62.39 and HS of 53. He also took 30 wickets at 25.40, ER 3.43, SR 44.4, best bowling 4 for 31 and 10 catches.
My vote for the reserves goes to Sri Lankans Malinga, Dilshan and Jayawardene.
Here is the World Cup northern hemisphere XI in batting order
1. Sachin Tendulkar (India)
2. Chris Gayle (West Indies)
3. Brian Lara (West Indies)
4. Vivian Richards (West Indies)
5. Javed Miandad (Pakistan)
6. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, wicketkeeper),
7. Imran Khan (Pakistan, captain)
8. Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
9. Anil Kumble (India),
10. Chaminda Vaas (Sri Lanka)
11. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka).
12th man: Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka).
Reserves: Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malings, untilakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene.
Yesterday, the best southern hemisphere team was selected by me based on similar statistical criteria. Just as Australian cricketers dominated the southern hemisphere squad, Sri Lankans have had lions’ share in the northern hemisphere squad.
Who will win this hypothetical super match between the two hemispheres? I leave it to the knowledgeable Roarers.