Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Home with honour XI

Now the 42-game group stages are over, here is an XI from the best players whose World Cup is over, featuring at least one player from the six knocked-out sides.

Imrul Kayes
Whilst Tamim fired only briefly, his less obtrusive opening partner was the nearest Bangladesh had to a reliable batsman. Seldom over-adventurous but with a good range of shots deployed sagaciously, Kayes provided the backbone for their successful chases over England and the Netherlands, winning the Man of the Match award in both games. In his own words,”I believe in the idea of hanging in there instead of making a 10-ball 30” – making him almost the antithesis of Tamim.

Ed Joyce
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 the West Indies, which begun with consecutive boundaries, was testament to his class: he is surely the most aesthetically pleasing batsman any of the associate nations possess, with his cover drive evoking that of David Gower.

Collins Obuya
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 assurance of a Test player.

Niall O’Brien
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 (wicket-keeper)
Bagai was one of the best wicket keepers on display in this World Cup, keeping with poise and vivacity to seam and spin alike. And with the bat he was easily Canada’s best player. Elegant and never overawed, he took them to victory over Kenya, and then scored a commanding 84 at almost a-run-a-ball against New Zealand.

Ryan ten Doeschate
Ten Doeschate came into the tournament with a reputation as the best associate player in the world, and, with a century that fused 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
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 – was a knock for the ages. As a display of brutal, calculated hitting it was phenomenal: and it was fitting he ended Ireland’s tournament with the six that sealed victory over the Netherlands.

Shafiul Islam
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 and reverse-swinging venom previously claimed 4/21 to clinch a tight victory over Ireland. But, like his team, Shafiul was damagingly inconsistent, leaking 124 runs from 14 overs in Bangladesh’s three defeats.

George Dockrell
Dockrell’s control and big-match temperament – remarkable for an 18-year-old mark him out as a special talent. 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
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’s bustling seamer was impressive throughout, making up for a lack of express pace with nagging consistency and a touch of late movement. He will be rightly proud of his haul of thirteen scalps – three more than any associate bowler managed - which included Brendan McCullum, Shane Watson and Younis Khan.

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