After the posts on the scoring trends and the report card for the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, this post is for eleven of the best players whose World Cup is over, featuring at least one player from each of the six knocked-out sides. Sit back, read, enjoy and comment…
Imrul Kayes, Bangladesh: While Tamim fired only briefly, his less obtrusive opening partner was the nearest Bangladesh had to a reliable batsman this tournament. Kayes provided the backbone for their successful chases over England and Netherlands, winning the Man-of-the-Match award in both games.
Ed Joyce, Ireland: His long-awaited return to Ireland colours was a disappointment in many ways – how Joyce will rue his soft dismissal against Bangladesh. But his 84 against West Indies, which begun with consecutive boundaries, was a testament to his class: he is surely the most aesthetically pleasing batsman any of the Associate nations possess.
Collins Obuya, Kenya: He is remembered for his sharp-turning leg-spin in the 2003 World Cup, when he took 5-24 in the victory against Sri Lanka. Obuya’s bowling has since subsided, but he has reinvented himself as a top-order batsman of genuine quality, as 243 tournament runs illustrates. It was a great shame he ended 98* against Australia, after he had handled Tait, Lee and Johnson with the calm of a Test player.
Niall O’Brien, Ireland: O’Brien will be extremely frustrated reflecting on this World Cup: he made starts in every innings but only once past 50. O’Brien’s relish for a challenge was illustrated by hitting Morne Morkel for six over long-on, one of the shots of the tournament, and an average in excess of 40 shows the quality of this most industrious of cricketers.
Ashish Bagai (wicketkeeper), Canada: Bagai was one of the best wicketkeepers on display in this World Cup, keeping with poise to seam and spin alike. And with the bat he was easily Canada’s best player, taking them to victory over Kenya and scoring an elegant 84 at almost a-run-a-ball against New Zealand.
Ryan ten Doeschate, The Netherlands: Ryan ten Doeschate came into the tournament with a reputation as the best Associate player in the world, and, with a century of both brawn and finesse against England, he quickly went about justifying it. Though runs proved harder to score thereafter, he chipped in with a half-century in difficult circumstances against Bangladesh, before ending the tournament with another magnificent hundred. His wicket-to-wicket bowling also troubled England.
Kevin O’Brien, Ireland: Critics will say he only played one innings of note, but what an innings. O’Brien 113 against England – including 45 off 15 balls during the batting powerplay – will be remembered for decades. As a display of brutal, calculated hitting it is hard to beat – and an IPL contract could be the ultimate reward.
Shafiul Islam, Bangladesh: Belying his ODI average of under 6, and three ducks in five innings this tournament, Shafiul proceeded to smash Swann and Anderson down the ground en route to raiding England for a match-winning 24*. His pace, movement and accuracy earned him 4/21 to clinch a narrow win over Ireland. But, like his team, Shafiul was hopelessly inconsistent, leaking 124 runs from 14 overs in Bangladesh’s three defeats.
George Dockrell, Ireland: When was there last an 18-year-old spinner with Dockrell’s control and big-match temperament? In the intense pressure of the opening game in partisan Dhaka, Dockrell’s wonderful 10 overs, in which he returned 2-23, ought to have secured Ireland victory. Thereafter, he only continued to impress, with the only shame that his skipper didn’t trust him to bowl to Kieran Pollard. What odds him representing England in 2015?
Ray Price, Zimbabwe: The man with the most theatrical expressions in world cricket illustrated his guile and skill with some admirable performances, notably 2-21 of eight overs against Pakistan, and was equally effective opening the bowling or bowling in the middle overs. Nine wickets at less than 19 deserved better support from his disappointing compatriots.
Harvir Baidwan, Canada: Canada’s bustling seamer was impressive throughout, making up for a lack of express pace with nagging consistency and a touch of movement. He will be rightly proud of his haul of 13 scalps, which included Brendon McCullum, Shane Watson and Younis Khan.