At the end of a major tournament like the ICC Cricket World Cup it is the done thing to select the Tournament XI. There will be an official one and just about every other media house will do the same thing and The Sports Eagle is no different. Inevitably there will be shouts of why so-and-so is not there or how Player A made the side ahead of Player B. Well here goes nothing …
He was having an okay tournament until suddenly hitting form late in the pool stage and then there was that quarter-final against the West Indies. Some might argue that if his 237* and 105 was taken away he had a very ordinary tournament. Well 205 runs in his other seven innings is solid if not spectacular and we felt the leading run-getter in the tournament deserved to be placed in this XI.
It was a toss-up between Dilshan and India’s Shikhar Dhawan to open with Guptill but in the end Dilshan’s 65.83 average at a strike rate of 96.57 swayed it in his favour.
It’s not every day that someone comes along and hits four World Cup hundreds in a row. Well it had never been done before. The Sri Lankan forced his way into this side by sheer weight of runs … or tons if you prefer.
Brendon McCullum was probably the captain of choice but since the Kiwi does not make this side, it is left to the Proteas leader to skipper the side. Hardly a bad choice. The outrageously talented De Villiers led from the front and hammered 482 runs at an average of 96.40 with a 144.31 strike rate. Oh and sometimes he bowls and takes wickets too. And he is quite a decent fieldsman. He is also a scratch golfer. Oh, and he has a music album out. And did you know … never mind.
Smith is actually a number three but if anything was proved during the Australian summer it is that the Sydneysider puts the team first and will play the role required. Considering how difficult it would have been to not have Sangakkara or De Villiers at 3 and 4, this gem of a match winner will slot in at 5 and you just know he will be an admirable performer. The aforementioned hierarchy is based on total runs scored at the World Cup.
Taylor is actually a number four batsmen for Zimbabwe (or was) but we had to find a place for this innovative player who would be lauded globally if he was in a better side. The 29-year old finished fourth on the overall runs-scorers list with a strike rate of 106.91. This is even more remarkable considering he only played in the pool phase.
The number seven batsmen issue for South Africa was ultimately nothing more than an all-rounder problem. The two finalists had no challenges in this department and while the one was more of a batsman that bowled and the other more of a bowler who batted, both Maxwell and Daniel Vettori make this side. Like the Aussies did, this team will gladly promote Maxwell up the order around over 35 to destroy the opposition bowling attack.
The old man was one of the vital cogs in New Zealand’s wheel. Vettori’s 15 wickets at an economy rate of 4.04 was outstanding at a tournament where 300 was never a safe score. The 36-year old was seldom needed to bat but we all know what he is capable of. Given our top order the Aucklander is unlikely to be needed in the inter-stellar final against Saturn anyway. He is the team’s chief spin option.
The player of the tournament. Starc enjoyed a superb event on home turf nicking 22 scalps at 10.18 with a strike rate of 17.4 and his 6/28 nearly saved an ostensibly lost cause at Eden Park against the co-hosts.
Shami and fellow quick Umesh Yadav were largely responsible for India’s success Down Under. Before the competition there were doubts over the defending champions’ bowling but the pair took 35 wickets between them. For his 17 sticks at 17.29 and a strike rate of 21.5 it is Shami who makes our tournament team.
Up front Boult was the best proprietor of swing bowling seen at this tournament. At the 2015 Cricket World Cup the 25-year old helped himself to 22 wickets in nine outings at an average of 16.86 and a strike rate of 23.1 His best effort was 5/27 in the victory over Australia in Auckland.