After an entertaining World Cup that proved to be a credit to its hosts and even, deep intake of breath now, the ICC, a report card for each of the teams on how they fared in the tournament, their key players in the latest edition and the players to watch for in the next edition is over here for you to read and comment….
Australia – Having steamrollered England in the pre-World Cup series, they flattened weaker opposition before failing against the sub-continental giants, Pakistan and India. As always, their cricket was based on aggression, with bat speed and ball speed to the fore. On home territory in 2015, that strategy will pay higher dividends, but Michael Clarke will have to find a few players of genuine international class to replace old stagers like the Husseys, Lee and, of course, Punter. Those new men will be aged 27 at most now and, in that age category, Australia do not have many players proven to be good enough to wear the green and gold. Star man in 2011 – Brett Lee: Enjoys playing in India and showed it, bowling with pace and guile. Star man for 2015 – Phillip Hughes:. If he can develop a few more shots, his edges to slips and gully will not be fatal in the ODI format and he’ll score at a strike rate of 100 or so easily.
Bangladesh – The whole country enjoyed staging the tournament, but their team’s inconsistency revealed itself under the pressure of local expectations. Rather gave the lie to ICC rankings in which their players were rated highly pre-tournament. Star Man in 2011 – Shakib al Hasan: For the want of another. Star Man for 2015 – Tamim Iqbal: Will surely be better for the experience and unfettered away from home in playing his natural game. Needs to play as much cricket abroad as possible, not least because he is box office.
Canada – Outclassed by all but the even more dismal Kenya, it was good to see them representing North American cricket, but they did the Associates’ case for a 14 team World Cup little good. Star Man in 2011 – Balaji Rao: A roly-poly spinner who did not roll the ball, but spun it hard and flighted it well. A joy to watch, but we probably won’t see him again. Star Man for 2015 – Jimmy Hansra: looked well organised with bat and ball, but, like his team-mates, he is a good club player and little more.
England – Just too exhausted after being away from home too long (though not through playing too much cricket, as, well, they haven’t played that much cricket since the Fifth Ashes Test). Like a tired boxer towards the end of an old-style 15 round championship bout, they could raise themselves for one round, then took a pummeling in the next. Scheduling changes mean that so long a spell away from home won’t happen again. Star Man in 2011 – Andrew Strauss: At times, breathtaking with the bat, but his leadership, patience and decency kept the show on the road as bits fell off one player after another. Star Man for 2015 – Stuart Broad: If his workload can be managed, he should be at the peak of his powers with bounce, accuracy, a few tricks and an attitude that’ll be needed Down Under.
India – Under immense pressure for weeks on end, stood up and delivered. Lost only once, to the talented South Africans, in a tight finish, which proved something of a blessing as it allowed them to have a clearer idea of their best side (which was simply the most talented 11 players, as it so often is). Star Man in 2011 – MS Dhoni: Leading some of the biggest names in cricket and surrounded by a billion captains wherever he went, his clarity of thought and example of how to deal with expectations was a wonder to behold. He has learned that from a man that can do all of that, but did not deliver as captain, SR Tendulkar. And that is the measure of MS Dhoni’s achievement. Star Man for 2015 – Virat Kohli: Every shot in the book, cool in a chase and, as revealed in interviews, a self-possessed man with the intelligence required to keep his feet on the ground, I expect him to emerge as the leader of the post-Dhoni generation.
Ireland – Loved every minute and squeezed every bit of performance out of the talent available. As ever, a credit to the game and their country (well, countries). Star Man in 2011 – Kevin O’Brien: His extraordinary century against England might not be the best ODI innings ever, but it’s in the top three – it defined the phrase “rising to the occasion”. Star Man for 2015 – The Chairman of their Board: He must make a case for their inclusion – one that should be supported by every cricket supporter, no matter what their allegiance. And George Dockrell.
Kenya – Turmoil in the game at home showed on the field as they failed to win a match. Much work to be done by the semi-finalists of just eight years ago. Star Man in 2011 – Collins Obuya: whose efforts would have gained more reward in a better team. Star Man for 2015 – The Development Manager of Kenyan Cricket: That man has much work to do.
Netherlands – Held their own for long periods in matches, but lacked the depth to get over the line in the fifty over format. Will be dangerous floaters in the next World T20 (so long as their best players don’t qualify for other countries – well, England). Star Man in 2011 – Ryan ten Doeschate: At times, you could believe his extraordinary ODI average, as the ball went all round the park. Sometimes it did when he was bowling too, but that’s a bonus from as explosive a batsman as there is in the game. Star Man for 2015 – Alex Kervezee: Probably in England’s blue rather than the Netherland’s orange, alas.
New Zealand – As so often, they got to the semi-finals before meeting a team too good for them. What they lacked in class, they made up for with the adaptability of their players and hitting as likely from 9, 10, 11 as from 1, 2, 3. Will need to develop a lot of players quickly to replace the old stagers – but that’s what they do down there. Star Man in 2011 – Ross Taylor: Probably the cleanest striker of a cricket ball in the game just now, his boundary hitting defied belief at times. Has the tricky job of continuing to play with that freedom while captaining the side in the future. Star Man for 2015 – Jesse Ryder: Should be at his peak on home territory next time round and that peak is very high indeed. If he can graft consistency and discipline on to his ability, he will be feared by every bowler.
Pakistan – Out of the chaos burst forth the inextinguishable flame of Pakistan’s talent. Again. Played some terrible cricket, but played some irresistible stuff too, as they made the semi-finals and made sure that the effigies stayed in the back rooms. What would they do with a full hand of payers to select and some, indeed any, stability in administration? Star man in 2011 – Shahid Afridi: Charisma itself in the field, bowling at near medium pace with dip and spin both ways, he was far too much for less experienced batsmen. Star man for 2015 – Mohammad Amir: Let a man dream, won’t you?
South Africa – All those players, all those runs and all those wickets and, yet again, they found a way to lose. The chokers tag is trite, but what other adjective works? Star Man in 2011 – Dale Steyn: What a bowler this man is, wholly undeserving of his fate in this tournament. The best out and out paceman of the last twenty years. Star Man for 2015 – AB de Villiers: Already a leading player in the game, he will be only 31 next time round and may be the man to break the hoodoo. But might not too.
Sri Lanka – Fell at the final hurdle having lost only to the mercurial Pakistanis. As beguiling as a side can be in the age of power-hitters and big bats, but that’s hardly compensation for men who have two loser’s medals somewhere at the back of a cabinet at home. Star Man in 2015 – Kumar Sangakkara: Effortlessly carried off the triple-header of wicket-keeping, captaincy and top order batting with his usual mix of elegance and crafty intelligence. Star Man for 2015 – Ajantha Mendis: Has the unenviable task of filling Murali’s battered old boots, but has the control needed to make the most of Australia’s bouncy wickets.
West Indies – Proved to be a collection of players rather than a team, surrendering meekly having made the knockout stages. Signs of real talent coming through, but they need a Clive Lloyd like figure to gel the different nationalities together. Darren Bravo – your countries need you! Star man in 2011 – Keiron Pollard: Showed his match-winning ability, but was held back too often. Star Man for 2015 – Darren Bravo: Immensely gifted, he needs as much experience as possible as quickly as possible. Get him into county cricket now please!
Zimbabwe – On the long road back, they showed that the talent is still coming through now their domestic structure is more solid. Star Man in 2011 – Tatenda Taibu: Brilliant keeper and leader, if not captain, on the field. Star man for 2015 – Elton Chigumbura: the young captain will be all the better for the 2011 experience.