The highlights and lowlights in Australia, from Netherlands shocking South Africa to controversial sandwiches.
Match of the tournament
Netherlands v South Africa. The fact there is one very obvious answer — which we’ll come to – means selecting anything else is a shock, which given that it was itself a shock, in a tournament full of shocks, seems appropriate.
Highlights included probably the catch of the competition from Roelof van der Merwe, and the extraordinary conclusion to South Africa’s doomed run chase, with Keshav Maharaj hopping slowly down the pitch on his only functioning leg, turning potential twos and threes into singles, while Pakistan and Bangladesh, who would both have been eliminated had South Africa won, sat in the same venue watching what had seemed a faint and distant hope becomes ever clearer and nearer.
Star of the tournament
Suryakumar Yadav, aka SKY, India’s coming man at the age of 32 — incredibly, he made his international debut only last year — and a batter of mind-boggling brilliance. His innings in India’s final game of the Super 12s, 61 off 25 balls against Zimbabwe, included the shot of the tournament: Richard Ngarava bowled a perfectly decent wide yorker and Yadav stretched, down on one knee, to not just reach it but somehow flick it over both his left shoulder and the square leg boundary for six.
Team of the tournament
Alex Hales (England), Jos Buttler (England, captain), Virat Kohli (India), Suryakumar Yadav (India), Ben Stokes (England), Glenn Phillips (New Zealand), Rilee Rossouw (South Africa), Sam Curran (England), Shadab Khan (Pakistan), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan), Anrich Nortje (South Africa)
The sound of the crowd in Adelaide while Rashid Khan took down Australia’s death bowling, audibly undecided about whether to acclaim the performance of a great player, lovely bloke and adopted son of the city – Khan has played five Big Bash League seasons for the Adelaide Strikers — or to howl with anguish at what he was doing to their own team’s crucial net run rate.
To their great credit, most seemed to go with option one. Afghanistan’s efforts to restrict Australia’s NRR were such that Khan and Ireland’s Lorcan Tucker both did more to help England to win the World Cup than several members of the actual England team.
Most entertaining complaint
During the group stages news leaked that India’s players were fuming about the falafel and sandwiches laid on for them at training, with some said to have got takeaways delivered to the Sydney Cricket Ground to avoid having to eat it. “I know all the teams are getting the same thing,” a source told AFP, “but they are not speaking out because most of them are not in a position to raise a voice”.
I asked someone in the Ireland camp if their experience was similar and it turned out the AFP’s source was half-right — they were getting the same thing, but the reason they were not speaking out was because they like sandwiches.
The game between India and Pakistan was not just a compelling contest with incredible individual performances and a frankly ludicrous conclusion, it was one of the great sporting occasions — and it was only a group game.
It wasn’t even a decisive or, as it turned out, particularly important group game — both teams ended up in the last four, and the losers made the final — but for spectacle, intensity and atmosphere not even the final itself could match it, as 90 000 people combined to turn the city of Melbourne, and eventually the MCG, into a cauldron of noise, colour and joy.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, whose forecast for final day in Melbourne was consistent for the entire preceding week: thunder, lightning, and rain from dawn to dusk.
It was the only topic of conversation for days, as organisers were forced to schedule extra time on the reserve day and fears rose that the trophy would end up being shared. It rained for about 10 minutes. I can only assume it was a deliberate wind-up.
What would you change for next time?
At the England team hotel on the morning after the final I had the opportunity to hold and indeed lift the trophy. It’s not very good. You would have thought a cricket World Cup would attempt to represent either cricket or the world, or perhaps even both, and to add insult to previous insult this one isn’t even a cup.
To be acceptable a sporting trophy must answer in the affirmative at least one of four key questions: Does it have particular historic importance? Is it incredibly pretty? Can you drink out of it? — TheGuardian.Com