Lord’s, 1973, the third Test versus England – Garfield Sobers closes a day’s play on 31 not out.
We are approaching the end of what has been a six-week festival of cricket, as the hosts England prepare to play the unfancied Black Caps in the final at Lord’s.
Here is my XI of the tournament.
1. Rohit Sharma
If there was one absolute lock for this side it had to be Rohit. With 648 runs, five hundreds and an average of 81, Rohit has been the pick of the batsmen at this year’s World Cup.
He copped an absolute seed from Matt Henry in the semi-final, which perhaps denied him from amassing the most amount of runs ever in a single tournament. But despite his semi-final failure, the Indian opener has had a stellar tournament and deserves this spot at the top of the order.
2. Dave Warner
I seriously considered Jason Roy for this spot, considering the power he brings and just how crucial he is for England, but I couldn’t ignore Warner’s numbers.
With 647 runs, three hundreds and an average of 71, Warner has been critical to the Aussies. Like Rohit, he copped a good ball in the semi-final and Australia’s capitulation showed how reliant they have been on Warner and Aaron Finch’s runs up top. Hopefully he can continue this form and win the Ashes.
3. Kane Williamson (captain)
Not only has he been by far New Zealand’s biggest contributor with the bat with 548 runs, two centuries and an average of 91, Williamson has done it basically carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders.
With hardly any support from his openers, Williamson has been in very early almost every innings and has almost single-handedly dragged his side into a World Cup final.
He has also been the stand-out captain of this World Cup. His captaincy in the semi-final helped New Zealand defend a meagre total against India and he hasn’t had the support that the likes of Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli and Aaron Finch possess.
His gritty determination was on show in the semi-final, where on a tough pitch, he and Ross Taylor helped drag the Kiwis to a defendable total. It would be a real Cinderella story if Williamson can go on and lift the World Cup for the men from across the ditch.
4. Joe Root
Joe Root has gone about his business without a lot of fanfare and perhaps is sometimes overshadowed by his big hitting team-mates Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler, yet Root is England’s leading run scorer with 549 at an average of 68 and two centuries.
He put the finishing touches on their domination of Australia in the semi-final with 49 not out and will be a key man for England in the final as they look to finally win that elusive first World Cup.
5. Shakib Al Hasan
Perhaps a touch rough on Shakib to relegate him to No.5 when he has been the player of the tournament batting at No.3 but such is his flexibility as a player I can slot him in down the order.
He is the third leading run scorer in the tournament with 606 at an average of 86, including two hundreds. He also has been solid with the ball taking ten wickets including a five-for.
He has become the first player to make over 500 runs and take ten wickets in World Cup history and he has been a key part of Bangladesh’s improvement in this tournament.
6. Ben Stokes
Stokes has been a solid contributor with both bat and ball for England in this tournament and was particularly important in holding them together when they were struggling in the group stage.
Stokes has scored 381 runs at an average of 54 – pretty good for a batsman who comes in lower down the order and doesn’t always get the opportunity of his top order counterparts.
7. Alex Carey
Alex Carey has been a revelation for Australia this tournament and was the obvious candidate to take the gloves in this side.
He has been brilliant with the bat, getting Australia out of a few very tough spots and has made the most runs ever in a World Cup for a batsman batting No.7 or lower, with 375 at an average of 62. Carey has also taken the most dismissals in this World Cup with 20.
His form with the bat has been so good that some are calling for him to play as a specialist batsman in the Ashes. His semi-final knock after being hit in the head by a Jofra Archer bouncer was particularly gutsy.
8. Mitchell Starc
Starc was the obvious choice to lead the attack after breaking Glenn McGrath’s World Cup record by taking 27 wickets.
While he will be disappointed with his performance in his final two games against South Africa and England, Starc has had a tournament to remember, taking two five-wicket hauls and having a bowling average of 18.59. Hopefully he can bring this form to the Ashes.
9. Jasprit Bumrah
This guy is the best white ball bowler in the world. His bowling up front and at the death has been exceptional and has been India’s strike weapon this World Cup.
In this side he would share the new ball with Starc, creating the most feared new ball combination in limited overs cricket. He has taken 18 wickets at an average of 20.
10. Lockie Ferguson
For my third seamer, I wanted someone who added something a bit different and could bowl well in the overs 11-40. That man is clearly New Zealand pace ace Lockie Ferguson.
A relative unknown to many outside of New Zealand before this World Cup, Ferguson has been a weapon for New Zealand in the middle overs. He has taken 18 wickets at an average of 19, and most importantly, has taken the most wickets of any bowler between the overs 11-40, making him a serious asset for this side.
11. Shaheen Shah Afridi
This was perhaps my toughest selection in this team: should I go for a spinner or a fourth seamer?
In a World Cup dominated by pace bowling, I couldn’t find a front-line spinner that was deserving of selection so I put all the spin bowling on the shoulders of the all-rounder Shakib.
In the end I decided to go with a fourth seamer and it was out of Jofra Archer or Shaheen. The 19-year-old Pakistani paceman has been a revelation in this tournament.
In only five matches he has taken 16 wickets at an average of just 14, including the best spell of the World Cup against New Zealand. Pakistan have a serious player for the future in this guy.