Just days remain for the start of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England with the biggest stars from 10 international teams are set to feature over the course of the next six weeks.
The 2019 edition will see several modern-day greats turn out for their final World Cup hurrah as they enter the twilight of their careers.
Here, we take a look at five legends of the game who could be set to retire from ODIs at the end of the 2019 World Cup.
Dale Steyn – South Africa
Injuries have taken their toll on South Africa’s all-time great over the past few years but Dale Steyn arrives at his final World Cup campaign like a man determined to end his country’s title drought.
It has been a storied 15-year long international career for the Proteas pacer who is now their leading Test wicket-taker ahead of the great Shaun Pollock. With the 2019 World Cup set to be Steyn’s limited-overs swansong, he will be itching to capture the trophy that has eluded his side since its inception in 1975.
Current form: A fractured shoulder and subsequent injuries kept Steyn out for much of the past three years with the right-armer making just 13 ODI appearances since the turn of 2016. He did have a meaningful impact in the ODI series win over Zimbabwe last year but is currently coming off the back of another injury he picked up in the recently concluded IPL.
World Cup record: Steyn has been a consistent performer for South Africa at the biggest stage with 23 dismissals in his 14 World Cup appearances. He averages just over 23 with the ball while his economy-rate has been an excellent one at only 4.68.
Lasith Malinga – Sri Lanka
The veteran pacer has ambitions to play in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia but the upcoming tournament will be his final ODI appearance for Sri Lanka in all likelihood. Having forged a formidable reputation as a limited-overs specialist due to the potency of his pin-point yorkers and deceptive slower deliveries, Malinga will carry the hopes of a Sri Lankan side low on confidence during the World Cup.
Current form: After struggling with fitness issues and a dodgy knee, Malinga has established himself as Sri Lanka’s frontline pacer once again through a string of consistent displays over the past year. The veteran has picked 11 ODI wickets in eight appearances in 2019 and recently played a crucial role in Mumbai Indians’ march to their record fourth IPL title.
World Cup record: Malinga’s record in the World Cup is an excellent one with the pacer claiming 43 wickets so far in his 22 appearances. He is the only bowler in history to register two hat-tricks in the World Cup with the first coming against South Africa in 2007 while the second followed four years later against Kenya.
Shoaib Malik – Pakistan
Age – 37
There are plenty of exciting young talents in Pakistan’s World Cup squad but it is veteran Shoaib Malik who provides gravitas to the batting unit with his sheer consistency. The 37-year-old has been on the international circuit for nearly two decades now after making his debut in 1999 and currently has 284 ODIs under his belt.
Malik remains Pakistan’s middle-order lynchpin with his ability to control any situation and his aggregate of over 7,500 ODI runs is testament to that fact.
Current form: After an excellent 2017 with the bat, Malik’s returns have been gradually dwindling with just three half-centuries to show for in his last 27 ODI outings. In 2019 alone, he averages just under 27 with a mere 242 runs in nine innings. His bowling output has almost come to a grinding halt in recent months with Malik no longer being the dependable all-rounder he once was.
World Cup record: Surprisingly, Malik has just made three appearances in the World Cup so far where he has a highest score of 62 along with one wicket with the ball.
MS Dhoni – India
While he might not have officially declared his intentions to retire just yet, the 2019 World Cup could be the last time we see MS Dhoni in India colours. The 37-year-old veteran has won it all as the country’s skipper including the 2011 World Cup on home soil and has been one of the longest-standing servants of Indian cricket with over 10,000 runs under his belt.
Current form: After what was a dismal 2018 for the wicketkeeper-batsman in limited-overs cricket, Dhoni has been showing signs of a resurgence. The right-hander is averaging nearly 82 with the bat in 2019 and put in a man-of-the-series display in India’s 2-1 win over Australia Down Under. He is also coming off the back of an excellent individual IPL campaign for Chennai Super Kings where he averaged over 83 with the bat.
World Cup record: Dhoni’s record in the competition is a healthy one with 507 runs in 17 innings at an average of over 42. His defining moment remains his unbeaten 91 in the final of the 2011 edition against Sri Lanka to lead India to their second title.
Chris Gayle – West Indies
He might be nearing 40 but Chris Gayle has plenty left in the tank if his recent displays against England and in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab are anything to go by. The veteran opener has been handed the added responsibility of the Windies vice-captaincy for his final World Cup campaign which will also mark the end of his international career. One of the most explosive modern-day batsmen in the game, Gayle brings to the table an experience of 289 ODIs where he has scored more than 10,000 runs with 25 centuries under his belt.
Current form: The Caribbean side will be buoyed by the southpaw’s recent form with Gayle going on a marauding run against England in the five-match ODI series held earlier his year. The Jamaican slammed two tons and as many fifties in that series with his ODI batting average in 2019 standing at a staggering 106. He also had an excellent IPL campaign this year where he scored 490 runs at a strike-rate of nearly 154 while striking a total of 34 sixes.
World Cup record: Gayle relishes performing on the biggest of stages with the left-hander nearing 1,000 runs in the competition after 26 appearances. He is one of only two batsmen to have registered a double ton in the World Cup following his 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015.
England captain Eoin Morgan will carry a message of “no regrets” into a World Cup campaign he would happily start tomorrow.
A significant piece of the jigsaw fell into place on Tuesday morning at Lord’s, where the final 15-man squad was announced. Out went Joe Denly and David Willey, with Jofra Archer’s place rubber-stamped after a brief but persuasive audition against Pakistan and Liam Dawson drafted in from the cold.
Alex Hales’ absence – discarded earlier this month after failing recreational drug testing – barely drew comment on the day and Morgan insisted he could not look back with anything but pride on his side’s journey from also-rans four years ago to favourites on home soil.
Speaking at the launch of England’s new kit, a powder blue homage to the one worn by Sir Ian Botham et al in the 1992 final, Morgan said: “There’s absolutely no regrets, we’re positioned in the best possible place at the moment.
“Our exceptional days are better than we could have imagined – the world records etc – and I could never have seen those at the start of 2015.
“We’d like to start playing tomorrow. We’ve had some really good preparations against Pakistan (a 4-0 series win) and I don’t think it could have gone better. Everyone just wants chopping and changing. Everyone just wants to get on with the tournament.”
There are warm-up games against Australia and Afghanistan to take care of first, neither restricted to 11-a-side, before the curtain finally goes up with South Africa’s visit to the Oval on May 30.
They will be wearing their new outfits on each occasion, hoping to channel the spirit of 1992’s runners-up finish before going one better at the Lord’s showpiece.
The distinctive jerseys are still a regular sight at England internationals 27 years on, and Morgan is desperate for the current generation to create a legacy of their own.
“It’s a huge opportunity we’re looking at to go out and express ourselves and continue to play as we have in the last four years,” he said.
“The other one is to inspire the next generation of cricketers to come into the game and pick up a ball and a bat, hopefully come out of the tournament worshipping one of the guys in our team.”
Morgan is as influential a skipper as England have ever had in one-day cricket and head coach Trevor Bayliss suggested ahead of final selection that the Irishman would hold a casting vote.
Whether or not it came to that in a meeting that lasted around 90 minutes is not known, but Morgan made it clear he has complete confidence in the group he has been given.
“I was very fortunate to sit in on the meetings to start with, I try to feed back the mood in the changing room,” he said.
“Obviously Ed has the final say, we just try to give him as much information to make the call as he can. We are very happy that he backed us with our decision and we are happy with the squad moving forward.”
The 50-over World Cup has witnessed some of the finest moments in the history of the game. And it has also been the stage for some of the most spectacular falls.
As we prepare for the 2019 showpiece event in England, we take a look at some key moments that have long lived in the memory of fans, having changed the course of the match and even the game of cricket itself.
1999 World Cup: Herschelle Gibbs drops Steve Waugh
Arguably the biggest drop in the history of the game. Australia’s World Cup campaign was stuttering in their must-win Super Six clash against South Africa at Leeds. Chasing 272 to secure their spot in the semi-finals, Australia were 48-3. When Waugh was on 56, the Australia skipper flicked Lance Klusener to mid-wicket where Herschelle Gibbs took the catch and in the process of throwing the ball up to celebrate, lost control and spilled it. Waugh smashed an unbeaten 120 and the rest is history.
1983 World Cup: Kapil Dev catches Viv Richards
The West Indies had won the first two World Cups. They were the undisputed heavyweight champions of the world and looked set for their third straight crown, having dismissed India for 183 in the final at Lord’s. Despite losing early wickets, Viv Richards looked like taking the Windies home. But while batting in 33, Viv top edged a pull off Madan Lal to mid-wicket, where India skipper Kapil Dev sprinted back from mid-on and took a fine catch over his shoulder. India won the final by 43 runs and in many ways, that catch redefined cricket.
1987 World Cup: Mike Gatting’s reverse sweep
The final at the Eden Gardens seemed to be in the bag for England, who were well placed at 135-2 chasing Australia’s 253. Mike Gatting was batting on 41 and Bill Athey on half-century. Then Australia skipper Alan Border came up to bowl his left-arm spin and the match turned on its head.
Gatting – for some reason – decided to reverse sweep Border and could only manage a top edge that ballooned to the keeper. Border took another scalp as Australia held on to a seven-run win – the closest yet in World Cup history – in front of 100,000 fans in Kolkata.
1975: Viv Richards runs out Ian Chappell
The inaugural World Cup final had no shortage of drama. The Aussies were chasing 292 in 60 overs against the Windies and were in cruise mode on 81-1. Then a young Viv Richards changed the narrative through his brilliance in the field. Alan Turner and Greg Chappell were sent back via direct hits. But the Aussies staged a recovery thanks to a fifty from captain Ian Chappell. But it was to be Richards’ final.
After a slight midfield from Richards at midwicket, Chappell started and then hesitated and that gave Viv enough time to send a pinpoint throw to the bowler’s end that found the batsman short. West Indies emerged victorious by 17 runs.
2007: Adam Gilchrist’s squash ball
One of the most daring – and controversial for some – moves in a World Cup final. Australia batted first against Sri Lanka in the 2007 showpiece in Barbados. It was a typical day at the office for the world-conquering Aussies as Adam Gilchrist blasted 149 from 104 balls that took the total to 281-4 in 38 overs in a rain-reduced match that proved well beyond Sri Lanka.
After reaching his ton, Gilchrist acknowledged the fans and pointed to his left glove, which had an odd lump in it. Turn out, Gilly had stuck half a squash ball in his glove to help him grip the bat better.