The World Cup is the greatest cricket tournament on earth, which brings together the best talents in the sport from across the globe. As we get closer to the D-Day each time, we often wonder what if greats from across eras played in the same team. Don’t we?
Well, Renin Wilben takes a journey back across the 11 World Cup editions that have been held so far, and comes up with his dream World Cup XI. Not surprisingly, the list is dominated by Australians, the most successful team in the tournament. Take a look
1. Adam Gilchrist: It was difficult to look beyond the swashbuckling Aussie for the opening slot, even though it would mean leaving out wicket-keeper MS Dhoni. What works in Gilchrist’s favour is his incredible record in World Cup finals. He crossed 50 in the 1999 and 2003 edition and made that unforgettable 149 in the 2007 summit clash against Sri Lanka, famously (or infamously) batting with a squash ball in his gloves.
2. Sachin Tendulkar: Although he fared poorly in both the World Cup finals he featured in, it was impossible to look beyond Tendulkar as Gilchrist’s partner. With 6 memorable hundreds and that stunning 98 against Pakistan in 2003, Sachin it is who would go out to open with Gilly. While Gilchrist can constantly attack, Tendulkar can either consolidate or hit out, depending on the situation.
3. Sir Viv Richards: The name Viv Richards is enough to put fear in the minds of the opponent. His attacking instincts is unparalleled in one-dayers, and he has proved himself on the grandest stage as well. His unbeaten 138 in the 1979 World Cup final completely bulldozed England, and remains one of the greatest innings played in the final
4. Ricky Ponting: This was a tough call between Punter and Javed Miandad. While the latter was definitely the more versatile of the two, the former Aussie captain gets the nod because of his superb fielding abilities, which matters a lot in one-dayers. Also, that dazzling 140 in the 2003 World Cup final against India helped his case.
5. Steve Waugh: Wondering why another Aussie? Well, it is difficult to leave out the two-time World Cup winner. With his unmatched mental toughness Waugh will walk into most World Cup dream teams. The manner in which he turned around Australia’s fortunes from a seemingly impossible position in 1999 is stuff of legend. And who can forget that ‘World Cup drop’ quote.
6. Clive Lloyd (captain): There can be no better leader than the West Indian great who led the side to two World Cup wins in 1975 and 1979, and again to the finals in 1983, which they shockingly lost to India. He also led from the front in 1975 final, with a knock of 102 that saw them lift the inaugural edition of the World Cup.
7. Kapil Dev: The Indian faced tough competition from Imran Khan here. Both led their side to World Cup glory from adverse circumstances, but with Imran it was more a case of a mentoring role. And with Lloyd getting the nod as captain, Dev takes the all-rounder’s slot. Though there is little to pick between them in terms of bowling, Kapil is the more feared batsman of the two.
8. Andy Roberts: The fearsome West Indian is nowhere in the list of top wicket-takers in the World Cup. However, he has the best economy rate in the tournament, a thrifty 3.24. Few can come close to Roberts in terms of accuracy, and his ability to claim wickets while keeping things tight is an added asset.
9. Shane Warne: Muttiah Muralitharan may be the most successful spinner in World Cup, but when it comes to match-winning ability, Warne is clearly the one who is ahead. Although he missed the 2003 World Cup due to a ban over allegedly using banned substance, he showed his true class in the 1999 edition in England, especially against South Africa in what is termed as the greatest World Cup match ever.
10. Glenn McGrath: The leading wicket-taker in World Cups, with 71 scalps from 39 matches, Pigeon rarely strayed from his line and length. And he got the big men out in crucial games, most memorably Sachin Tendulkar in 2003 final to put paid to any hopes India had of chasing 360. An easy choice for the pace slot.
11. Wasim Akram: With Kapil, Roberts and McGrath making for a fearsome pace combo, one could have been tempted to go in with Murali as the second spinner. However, Akram’s pedigree just could not be ignored. The mention of Akram immediately brings to mind the 1992 World Cup final, which the left-arm pacer swung Pakistan’s way with two unplayable deliveries. His handy batting also helps his case.
12. Lance Klusener: Zulu had only one memorable World Cup, in 1999. However, the impact he made was so stunning that he must be in the squad in case one of the above 11 greats need to be replaced. But for that moment of madness at Edgbaston, Klusener might well have been a World Cup winner. Even without it, his smashing brilliance merits him a place in the 12, with his unorthodox bowling adding another dimension to the squad.
Don’t agree with us? Pick your Dream World Cup XI and paste it in the comments box below.