The best and the worst of the #CricketWorldCup
NZ v India (Semi-final)
From a pure shock value point of view, it has to be New Zealand’s semi-final victory over powerhouse India.
The fact that it took two days to complete added to the intrigue.
From a South African’s point of view, the two clashes against New Zealand and Australia were equally epic.
During the early stages of the tournament the rain was wrecking havoc with the schedule, with matches being abandoned entirely on a regular basis.
So, it has be to all the washouts that eclipsed the previous record of 1992 and 2003.
Jimmy Neesham (NZ) v India
Ben Stokes and Sheldon Cottrell’s grabs were amazing, but Neesham’s one-handed take in the Manchester semi-final was out of the top draw.
Diving full stretch to his left, he stuck out his hand to take the ball inches before it hit the ground.
David Miller (SA) v India
South Africa’s fielding, particularly during the early stages of the World Cup, was atrocious.
Kagiso Rabada dropped a sitter against Bangladesh, but it was nothing in comparison to David Miller’s glaring blunder in Southampton when he put down Rohit Sharma.
Considering Miller has always been regarded as one of the Proteas’ better fielders, it summarised South Africa’s decline in the fielding department.
Best Innings: Carlos Brathwaite (WI) 101 v New Zealand
Kane Williamson played an epic knock against South Africa, and Rohit Sharma, David Warner and Jonny Bairstow have all been piling on the runs, but for sheer unadulterated drama Brathwaite’s “bombastic” innings, as referred to by The Guardian’s Tanya Aldred, of 101 off 82 balls, with five fours and nine sixes, is the winner.
It was an extraordinary exhibition of power-hitting and game management with the Windies’ T20 captain scoring all of the 41 runs in a last-wicket partnership with Oshane Thomas.
The only pity was that he fell short at the final hurdle, being dismissed five runs short of the target.
Pakistan’s 105 v West Indies
The entire Pakistan batting unit are guilty as charged.
Their listless display in Nottingham, where they only lasted 21.4 overs - their shortest innings in terms of the number of balls faced in a World Cup match, and also their second-lowest total in a World Cup - was ultimately what cost them a semi-final place as New Zealand edged them out of fourth place on net run-rate.
Best Ground/Stadium: Edgbaston
Lord’s is, well... Lord’s and The Oval is unique when it’s humming, but Warwickshire’s Edgbaston in Birmingham is on another level.
The atmosphere in the ground, with fans dancing in the aisles to Neil Diamond’s classic Sweet Caroline during England’s semi-final win, was something really special. Maybe I’m a bit biased too, in regards to the fact that players come across to the media for press conferences, and that their lunch caterers are genuinely out of this world.
The Riverside, Durham
England and Wales don’t really have a “worst ground”. Each stadium has its unique qualities.
It’s not like New Zealand, where rugby stadiums are transformed into cricket venues, or South Africa, where some are just really old and in need of refurbishing.
But if pushed, it has to be Durham’s Riverside Ground purely because it has a haunted castle overlooking it.
Best Fan: Charulata Patel
The 87-year-old, who attends each game in her wheelchair, became an internet sensation when she was spotted by TV cameras fervently blowing a vuvuzela in the crowd during the match against Bangladesh.
Even India captain Virat Kohli acknowledged her by going over to greet her after the game, dubbing her India’s “superfan”.
Pakistan and Afghanistan
While the history of these two nations is well-documented, there is no reason for it to spill over at a cricket match.
The ugly scenes after their game at Headingley when a mass brawl broke out left an indelible stain on the tournament.
Kane Williamson (NZ)
The Kiwi skipper has got his team back in a World Cup final and in a most understated way, has bent the competition to his will.
His captaincy, his batting, his beard. A lot of people pretend they are cool because of the clothes they wear, or they have to tell you they’re cool. Williamson lives cool.
Rashid Khan (Afg)
Never got into the tournament, perhaps a sign that he was a marked man by the opposition. Afghanistan missed that energy and it was costly.
He’s just 20, though, and should have many more tournaments in him.
Sheldon Cottrell’s salute
Cottrell’s celebratory salute became iconic. It caught the attention of young fans, and when Cottrell saw it on-line, he invited both to the West Indies’ match against India.
In a competition that is so heavily corporatised, it was heart-warming to see such real human interaction.
The ICC’s broadcast partner Sunset & Vine having the temerity to tell Michael Holding he must not criticise umpires on air after a shocking performance by the umpires in the match between Australia and West Indies. Huw Bevan is that company’s production head. Huw Bevan should go back in his box.
Best TV Commentator: Isa Guha
Guha has been behind the mic for three years, but the World Cup is her first global gig and she has been the breakout star in the comms box.
Measured, insightful, humorous and with a terrific voice.
Worst TV Commentator:
There is nothing worse as a TV commentator than telling viewers exactly what they can see on the screen. Ganguly does so consistently.
The former India captain offers little in terms of insight.
The ‘throwback kit’ - a homage to the first coloured clothing at a World Cup in 1992 - was well thought through and designed.
It even goes well with your favourite board shorts - but you’d only need board shorts when the sun shines, which it doesn’t in England.
Incredible that the same company that made England’s kit also made the Proteas’ because SA’s outfits were poor.
Not 2003 or 1996 bad, but not good either. The green was shocking and what on earth was going on with that pattern on the sleeve?
What would you like to see in 2023:
Four more teams, at least. The World Cup needs to look like a World Cup, not a Commonwealth Games Cup.
Cricket must show it is growing; this year’s tournament was about regression. It isn’t right that 27 years after a nine-team World Cup, 2019’s version had just 10 participants.
What we’d not like to see in 2023:
The tournament being fixed in India’s favour.
This talk about copying the IPL play-off model should remain just that - talk. Let the knockout format, which we hope includes quarter-finals, be a straight knockout. You have 45 bad minutes and you’re out. Done.