In his latest blog for The Sports Eagle, former South Africa captain Graeme Smith selects his best 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup moments.
1. Brendon McCullum’s captaincy
Many adjectives have been used to describe McCullum’s captaincy during the tournament. The word I will use is “revolutionary”. He was radical and innovative yet not reckless. Most importantly he kept faith in his bowling attack throughout giving them all the ammunition they needed to bowl sides out whatever the circumstances. In the same manner that Sri Lanka reinvented batting at the 1996 World Cup, I believe that McCullum has pioneered a new form of One-Day International captaincy.
2. Kumar Sangakkara’s four successive hundreds
Bangladesh, England, Scotland and Australia all felt the brunt this tournament of one of the most brilliant batsmen of his generation. Bar lifting the World Cup, it was the most effective way of ending his career and cementing his legacy. 541 runs at an average of 108.20 from seven innings did exactly that.
3. Trent Boult’s 10-over new ball spell
Brendon McCullum knew that he had a bowling strategy which could potentially work as long as he had the personnel to execute it. Trent Boult was key to this. Boult broke the mould of new-ball spells by bowling a 10-over new-ball spell all the while maintaining a consistent pace and accuracy. His stamina and fitness has set a new standard for pace bowlers and raised the bar in what a captain should ask and expect from them in future.
4. Tim Southee’s 7/33 vs England
This was the game in which New Zealand laid down the marker. Tim Southee’s figures read one wicket for 20 runs after three overs. His next six overs produced six wickets for just 13 runs in one of the best spells of bowling in a One-Day International let alone a World Cup. It was a clinical and devastating 36 balls and set the tone for both teams for the rest of the tournament.
5. Mitchell Starc’s 6/28 vs New Zealand
In the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 group game in Guyana, Lasith Malinga almost pulled Sri Lanka back from the brink with a devastating spell of bowling against the Proteas. In 2015 in Auckland Mitchell Starc almost did the same for Australia. His final three over spell at the death went for four runs while picking up three wickets but most impressive was the manner of these dismissals which was a result of his raw pace, hostility and never-say-die attitude.
6. Mahmudullah’s 103 vs England
Mahmudullah became the first Bangladesh batsman to score a World Cup century when he reached three figures in the group game against England. The score provided the platform and belief Bangladesh needed to attack England in the field and ultimately record a famous win.
7. Bangladesh vs England
In the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Bangladesh defeated England in Chittagong to leave England precariously placed. In 2015 in Adelaide, they went one further by not only defeating England again but knocking them out of the tournament. More importantly, this win secured Bangladesh’s route into their first World Cup knock-out stage and deservedly so.
8. Proteas quarter-final win
The public will point out to the fact that the team has still not won a semi-final in a World Cup tournament. That next step will come shortly but for the time being we should acknowledge the fact that the team secured their first ever knock-out stage win in a World Cup tournament. It has taken 23 years and seven tournaments but the monkey is now firmly off their back which should allow for the team to move upwards and onwards.
9. Wahab Riaz’s spell to Shane Watson
Fuelled by comments aimed at him during his innings, Riaz took the ball in the ninth over of Australia’s innings and dismissed David Warner with his third delivery. With his 10th delivery he dismissed Michael Clarke. Two balls later he was clocked at 150 km/hour and this was just the beginning. What followed were five overs of enthralling cricket between Riaz and Watson. Riaz had Watson dropped in the 17th over of the innings and had that chance been taken who knows how the tournament may have unfolded.
10. New Zealand’s first final
While South Africa was celebrating their first knock-out stage victory, New Zealand was trying to win a semi-final at their seventh attempt which they duly did. Like the Proteas, they didn’t go on to lift the ultimate prize but will take heart from the fact that they have progressed as a unit and if they continue in this vein will enter England 2019 as one of the firm favourites.
Credit: www.icc-cricket.com & 2015 © ICC Development (International) Limited