Someone’s been watching too much of Smudge!
We continue our recap of the most memorable moments from this year’s World Cup.
You can read the first part of my World Cup reflections here.
There has been no greater talent to emerge from the World Cup than England’s Jofra Archer. The Barbadian, who became eligible to play for the Three Lions just before the tournament began, stunned everybody with his electrifying pace, generated from the most economical of actions. His X factor quality gave the Poms the cutting edge in attack it so desperately needed and transformed it into one of the best and most versatile bowling units of the competition.
Archer’s skipper’s faith in handing him the super over of the final confirmed the belief the team has in their young star’s abilities. There can be no greater pressure than having the fate of The World Cup rest on your shoulders, and for that to be on the shoulders of a 24-year-old rookie seems exceptionally unfair. But his deliverance of the trophy to England under unimaginable pressure removed any doubt that the name Jofra Archer will be heard around the cricket world for many years to come.
Rohit ’Hitman’ Sharma rewrote the record books as he became the first batsman to hit five centuries in a single World Cup. In doing so he eclipsed the record set by Kumar Sangakkara, who hit four hundreds in the last edition of the event. In the absence of regular opening partner Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit took the onus of scoring the bulk of India’s runs at the top of the order.
Along with fellow opener KL Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli, they were the mainstays of the men in blue’s batting that shielded India’s fragile middle order all the way to the semi-final. He went on to amass 648 runs and emerge as the highest run-scorer of the tournament. His contribution played a pivotal role in the Subcontinent giants reaching the last four of this year’s event.
The world’s No. 1 all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was a revelation at this year’s event. The Bangladeshi talisman starred in nearly every one of his side’s encounters and ended up third on the batting charts with 606 runs and the tournament’s best batting average of 86.57. He also snared 11 wickets and had the third-best bowling figures in a match, with 5-29 against Afghanistan. In the process he became the first player to score 500 runs and take 10 wickets at the quadrennial event.
The supreme athletes of the cricket universe displayed their tremendous athletic prowess by pouching astounding catches in mid-flight. Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Martin Guptill, Ravindra Jadeja, Trent Boult, Fabian Allen, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes all put on a show for the millions of awestruck fans during the month-and-a-half-long spectacle, flinging themselves to grab the white orb with their feet parallel to the earth. It was Ben Stokes, though, with his goalkeeper-style catch in the first match of the event who eventually won the plaudits for the catch of the tournament.
Mohammad Shami of India and Trent Boult of New Zealand ended up as the only men who achieved hat-tricks in the tournament. While Shami’s came in a tense 11-run victory against Afghanistan, Boult achieved his three-peat in his side’s loss to Trans-Tasman rivals Australia. Their bowling efforts throughout the tournament played a key role in their teams’ campaigns.
England captain Eoin Morgan emblazoned his name at the top of the six-hitting chart in a single ODI innings when he smoked 17 maximums against the hapless Afghans in their encounter. That innings also propelled him to the top of the six-hitters list in the tournament with an astounding 22 hits over the boundary.
As was to be expected, the fast men ruled the roost in England. Right from Mitchell Starc at the top of the pile, the list of the highest wicket-takers in the tournament was dominated by the fast men – in fact the top ten wicket-takers were all pace bowlers, with Chris Woakes rounding them off. Mitchell Starc was the standout bowler of the tournament with 27 wickets to top his stash of 22 wickets, which he achieved at the last World Cup, while England’s Jofra Archer and New Zealand’s Lockie Ferguson were the finds of the tournament.
The seed that Mitchell Starc bowled to get rid of Ben Stokes in a clash between old enemies Australia and England was the coup de grace in the Three Lions’ abysmal innings that resulted in a victory for the Aussies. Starting from outside off stump and tailing inwards towards the stumps, the ball was upon the well set Englishman before he could get his bat down and hit the base of off-stump. In a tournament of outstanding yorkers this wonder ball tops the list as the best of the competition.
At the end of a glorious tournament there were several awards to be given out. I’ll list the ones that were presented as well as some that I believe should have been.
Player of the tournament: Kane Williamson
Man of The final: Ben Stokes
Golden bat (most runs): Rohit Sharma
Golden ball (most wickets): Mitchell Starc
Golden hands (best catch): Ben Stokes
Golden gloves (best wicketkeeper): Quinton de Kock
The golden cricketer (best all-rounder): Shakib Al Hasan
The gold standard (best captain): Kane Williamson
These awards would have been befitting of the superlative performances of these amazing cricketers.
The most heartening picture of this year’s event was seeing the victors comfort the vanquished at the end of a heart-stopping thriller that was the World Cup final. England’s Chris Woakes took a moment out of his celebrations to console New Zealand’s Martin Guptill, whose despairing dive failed to get him and his team over the all-important line – that is, the batting crease – resulting in his run-out and his team’s defeat in the summit clash.
Once the euphoria of England’s maiden triumph had settled down to a more boisterous note, Three Lions skipper Eoin Morgan made his way to the away dressing room where the dejected Kiwis were trying to grapple with the surreal happenings of the last hour. Morgan went straight to Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson to share a drink and offer his commiserations. Though he was lost for words to comfort his fallen mate, his sheer generosity in what was essentially his team’s and his crowning moment signalled how the spirit of the game triumphs over every achievement that the sport has to offer.
The sight of 87-year-old Charulatha Patel summoning all her lungpower to cheer on the men in blue via a blowhorn was one of the most captivating moments of the World Cup. Millions of fans from across the globe came together for the six-week event to cheer their favourite teams on. Their presence turned a serious sports event into a cricket carnival as the game’s legion of fans interacted with each other, had fun and staged rivalries of their own. They spurred their heroes on to greater heights, rejoiced in their victories and shared in their despair. The tournament would have been poorer without them.
The 2019 World Cup has come to a close, leaving a huge void in our hearts and lives that will be tough to fill. If the 2023 event in India turns out to be anything like the one just concluded, cricket aficionados around the world can indeed look forward to another instalment of the greatest show on Earth.