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ICC Cricket World Cup 2011: Worst XI

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chanderpaul_lbwThe ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has been stuffed with surprises and aberrations that have added the true sub-continental spice and masala to the tournament. From Kevin O'Brien's stunning 100, which helped the Irish blow the opposition away, to some spirited tail-end batting by Shafiul Islam, which enabled Bangladesh to glide to an improbable 2-wicket win over a higher-ranked side. Not to forget a stunning century from Dutch all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate that assisted the Netherlands to a total of 292. England, the common string tying all of the above into a necklace of dark-horsing, set the tourney kicking and departed once the work was done!

Those were some instances of sparkling cricket from players and teams whom one would least expect to produce such performances. The competetive spirit and unpredictablilty on show further beautified the gentlemen's game. The tournament did, nonetheless, house a fair few disappointments, as happens when those expected to shine and rise to the occasion end up not doing so...

Here lie the broken, the men who have not rung true to their billing; men who comprise an ignominious list of hope-crashers and expectation-killers. Compiled below is an XI that has not quite lived up to its standards and potential (in batting order).

Tamim Iqbal:

The hard-hitting Bangladeshi opener, who was once highly talked-of and reminiscent of an Adam Gilchrist or a Virender Sehwag, will open the innings. Tamim has, in the past, showcased his true abilities with smashing test hundreds away in England and a key fifty in the 2007 World Cup, guiding Bangladesh to their famous victory against India. But such form seemed to suddenly “disappear”, at least during this particular campaign. The only innings to his credit would be his knock of 70 against India in the opening match, which was in vain. With mere starts and no big innings, Tamim's failures have made sure Bangladesh have secured bad starts to their innings. With two ducks and a 5, Tamim Iqbal secures the opener's slot in Worst XI!

Stats: 6 innings, 157 runs, Highest Score: 70, Average: 26.16, Strike Rate: 89.20

Graeme Smith (Captain):

Anointing the captain of this side wasn't at all a challenging prospect. The immensely talented left-handed stroke-maker seemed just too out of sorts for a player of his calibre. With a highest score of 45 against the West Indies and Bangladesh at strike-rates of 57.69 and 66.17, it was extremely painful to watch him perform the way he did, especially as they came against some of the poorer sides in World cricket. As a skipper he actually did a pretty good job, so we're not really being critical of his captaincy here - just as an opening bat - he had a really disappointing tourney.

Stats: 7 innings, 183 runs, HS 45, Average 26.14, SR 61.00

Shivnarine Chanderpaul:

Notable for his rather unconventional stance and batting style, the highly experienced Guyanese batsman has always suffered his share of detractors throughout his career. However, his performances in this tournament have tended to prove rather strongly that his repertoire of edges and nudges isn't good enough in the ever-accelerating 50-over format. Unsurprisingly, the West Indian team management excluded  the veteran from most of the matches, despite his credentials. With a brutally low strike-rate throughout all his innings (50.66), Chanderpaul seems to have lost his prowess somewhere; wherever it is, he hadn't brought it along to India for this World Cup!

Stats: 4 innings (1 Not Out), 114 runs, Highest Score: 44*, Average: 38.00, Strike Rate: 50.66

Cameron White:

After having been champions four times in the past, Australia's rather premature and unexpected departure from the tournament, even before the semis were reached, was a relatively big shock for everyone. With the team not boasting the same number of star players it once had, Cameron White's dreadful form didn't exactly help matters for the Aussies. Having played in all of Australia's matches and having had the sufficient time to build a big innings for his team, White's run of low scores exacerbated Australia's middle-order woes. Out of 6 innings, a paltry 70 runs was all he managed. Additionally, the all-rounder did not get a single over to bowl through the tournament. Cameron White, you've gotta be the one to white-wash them, mate, not the other way round!

Stats: 6 innings (2 Not Outs), 70 runs, Highest Score: 22*, Average: 17.50, Strike Rate: 61.94

Yusuf Pathan:

The pinch-hitting Pathan Senior is always a fright for any bowler. With an excellent career strike-rate of 115.14 and some mighty innings to his name, Pathan seemed the perfect prospect to get India those extra 40-50 runs at the death. This expectation, however, was not met in any of his outings in this World Cup, except for a 30* against a rather thin Irish attack. Against South Africa, when a score in excess of 320 looked imminent, Yusuf got his chance to impress against the biggies, but a 2-ball duck, which snow-balled into a phenomenal collapse, restricted India to 296, in a game which it would go on to lose. His handy off-breaks too seemed handy for the opposition to batter around. Overall, Yusuf cements his place in the lower middle-order in this XI!

Stats: 6 innings (1 Not Out), 74 runs, Highest Score: 30*, Average 14.80, Strike Rate: 115.62 and 6 innings, 35.0 overs, 167 runs, 1 wicket, BBI 1-49, Average 167.00, Economy Rate: 4.77, Strike Rate: 210.0

Steve Smith:

Harbouring comparisons to the great Shane Warne, Steve Smith enjoyed a great deal of backing from the team, the think tank as well as from the big man Warnie himself. As a result, he played in as many as six fixtures for the Aussies. A useful lower-middle-order batsman, in the three chances he got, Smith got starts to reach the mid-20s but failed to go any further. His spin, one believed, would save himself and his team.  What his bowling ended up saving, instead, was the effort for the opponent of having to work hard for their runs!

Stats: 3 innings (1 Not Out), 53 runs, Highest Score: 25, Average: 26.50, Strike Rate: 103.92 and 5 innings, 27.0 overs, 139 runs, 1 wicket, Best Bowling Innings; 1-44, Average 139.00, Economy Rate: 5.14, Strike Rate: 162.0

Matt Prior (Wicket-keeper):

Matt Prior has been one of world's most reliable wicket-keeper batsmen over the past decade. Statistics and performances show that Prior has what it takes to be among the best and as a batsman, he has shown that he is versatile and has the substance in him to perform at different positions in the batting order. Given chances, in this tournament, in the middle-order as well as in the opener's slot, Matt Prior contrived to fail in both roles and just did not score the runs he is capable of. With 6 innings, a high score of 22* was simply not good enough on a stage as big as the World Cup!

Stats: 6 innings (1 Not Out), 78 runs, Highest Score: 22*, Average: 15.60, Strike Rate: 84.78

Jason Krezja:

Having tried and barely tested him in the Test arena, Australia decided to throw in off-spinner Krezja into the deep end on the turning pitches in the sub-continent. With only 2 Test matches and a single ODI to his name prior to the World Cup, including him in the final XI was, to an extent, certainly a gamble, even though he was the last man standing after two other potential spin bowlers had succumbed to injury. The gamble only contributed to Australia's sub-standard campaign, as Krejza's best spell was a 2-28 against a rather modest Zimbabwe side. With a strike rate of 74.2 and an average of 55.60, one can see why it wasn't exactly the best of selections!

Stats: 7 innings, 61.5 overs, 278 runs, 5 wickets, Best Bowling Innings: 2-28, Average: 55.60, Economy Rate: 4.49, Strike Rate: 74.2

Daniel Vettori:

For a player considered one of the best left-arm orthodox spinners and all-rounders in the World, Vettori's skill was certainly not reflected in this tournament. The bespectacled Kiwi captain was never a bowler that could be smashed around the park easily. But best figures of 2-25 against a not-so-strong Zimbabwe side and only 2 more scalps in the rest of the 4 innings he bowled in definitely indicated that he was not anywhere near as successful as he could have been.

Stats: 5 innings, 43.0 overs, 155 runs, 4 wickets, Best Bowling Innings: 2-25, Average: 51.66, Economy Rate: 3.60, Strike Rate: 86.0 and 3 innings (1 Not Out), 53 runs, Highest Score: 44, Batting Average: 26.50.

James Anderson:

A bowler capable of swinging the ball both ways in addition to getting reverse swing (conditions permitting), it was extremely disappointing to see him being hit for 72 runs against the Netherlands, 91 against India, 49 against Ireland, and 54 against Bangladesh. Anderson's spells had become harbingers of easy runs for most teams and excepting the 2-16 he produced against the Proteas on a helpful bowling wicket, Anderson laid the red carpet for teams to gain easy boundaries and was an easy pick for this ignominous eleven. A player England certainly could have done without unfortunately!

Stats: 5 innings, 43.0 overs, 282 runs, 4 wickets, Best Bowling Innings: 2-16, Average: 70.50, Economy Rate: 6.55, Strike Rate: 64.5

Shoaib Akthar:

The Rawalpindi Express, who had bowled the fastest ball ever in the 2003 World Cup, destroyed the Kiwi line-up in the 1999 World Cup in a pivotal semi-final, claimed Dravid and Tendulkar in successive deliveries at the Eden Gardens, was off his colour. Shoaib had it all in him to torment any batsman. Played in only 3 matches, a career battered by controversy and injury, Shoaib just didn't seem to possess the fire-power or energy any more to rip through the batting orders of teams. A spell of 2-42 in a tight game against Sri Lanka is the only happy memory that he can take home from this tournament! A sad end to a rather sadly shortened career.

Stats: 3 innings, 24.0 overs, 122 runs, 3 wickets, Best Bowling Innings: 2-42, Average: 40.66, Economy Rate: 5.08, Strike Rate: 48.0

As they say, “Form is temporary, class is permanent”. So, one can only hope that these class players will rise from the bygone ashes of what was, by their exacting standard, a distasteful tournament. They will be sure to regain their form and strive never to cause a similar embarrassment to themselves and their teams!

File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20