The grand prize of international cricket, starts of next month in the Carribean. Yet again with a different format of how things will proceed, the world cup undoubtedly holds a promise of much excitement and fireworks, especially on the back of a cricketing season which has seen many high scoring matches and great feats including the freak show match of 850+ runs between Australia and South Africa with the latter chasing down a target of 434 against the Australian Juggernaut.
Along with that, the world cup is not singly favoured to be one by any one or 2 teams outrightly as it has been in the past , mostly by Australia alongwith South Africa. The asian giants of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka have also been there with contention. But this time around, Australia, aren’t coming into the world cup, with a coat of invincibity, but rather on the back of conceding 2 of the biggest run chases to the Kiwis. And ofcourse the embedded memory of the 434 to South Africa. Australia, South Africa, England are the main contenders in my opinion, with Pakistan, being as unpredictable as ever, and from a year which has see a lot controversy for the team, will remain a dark horse. India, Sri Lanka, Kiwis and the Windies also all have a good chances of pulling it off.
What is even more interesting is that , almost all teams , have amongst their ranks , cricketing greats who are undoubtedly playing in their last world cup, and what would be better than to leave behind a Legacy with winning the grand prize.
Two in particular, Inzimam, and Lara, will both be leading their teams as well. And there should be no doubt that they would give and arm and leg , to hand up the bat on terrific high. But the list doesn’t end there. There are others as well.
Tendulkar , the worlds most achieved ODI and Test Batsmen with an aggregate of more than 20,000 runs in both forms of the game, would want to add to his record the World Prize. Lara hasn’t won the world cup either, although he does have the Champions trophy on his resume!
The Australians have more than one people playing their last world cup. McGrath who will retire after the world cup, has already made it to being a cricketing legend and his stellar performance with the ball in 98% of the matches.. will live in memory for a long time to come. Ponting , not right up there as a legend , but one of the greats no doubt. He would like to win his 3rd world cup, and the 2nd as captain. That indeed is a prize to cherish.
The Kiwis, the only player I can mention from them is Fleming. The best captain i have ever seen , given the resources he has had at his disposal, this man has time and again gotten extraordinary results out of his men. It will truly be a swan song of an end if he could achieve the great feat.
The South Africans, Kallis and Pollock. Undoubtedly the best South African crickers in history. Pollock like McGrath has always been stellar with the ball and at times damaging with the bat as well. Same goes for Kallis, he has been one of the great assets of the South Africans, both with the bat and the ball.
For Pakistan, as i already said, Inzimam, already a world cup winner from ’92, leads his team under somewhat similar circumstances. Coming from a bad away series to SA (then Imran Khan led from a bad series to the windies). We could very well be without our pace spearheads , Shoaib Akhtar and M. Asif. ( Then we were without waqar). And whats more is we are nowhere one of the main teams in contention, dark horse perhaps but not the main team in contention. (In 92 we had a undistinguished run in the group stage, and had it not been for the weather on our side, we would not have made it through). Also of mention is M. Yousaf , who too might be in his last world cup. He has achieved fame as one of Pakistan’s cricketing greats, a stalwart in the lineup, and a man who broke the great Sir Viv Richard’s record last year , with 9 centuries in a single season, and most test runs scored in one season.
Lara, also mentioned before, a man who holds the 2 highest individual totals in test cricket. The most stylish batsman and one who is a menace to ball at. One of the few batsman not too much pressured by the likes of McGrath and Warne.
So as you can see, there are a lot of stakes for a lot of great players. Winning and ending their careers on a high, will truly be magnificent. I can see a lot of passion in the coming two months, and great matches. My money is on the South Africans this time, but my heart is ofcourse with Inzi and his men, Go TEAM PAKISTAN!