With the Cricket World Cup 2019 about to get underway, we take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the iconic players to have defined their eras and earned the title of legends in their country.
As we build up to the tournament, we celebrate the legends of past and take a look at the current flag-bearers.
Here, we have picked four players from England who have left their mark on the history books.
Graham Gooch [1975-1995]
One of the best to never win the World Cup, Graham Gooch was an absolute run machine during his prime. Known mainly for his prolificacy with the bat in tests, Gooch also boasted an enviable record in the World Cup.
He was the leading run-getter in the 1987 edition in which a Mike Gatting-led England performed consistently before perishing against Australia in the finals.
Gooch then took over the captaincy for the next edition and led the Englishmen to a second consecutive final. But Pakistan terminated his hopes of laying hands on the prestigious piece of silverware.
Throughout his career spanning 27 years (including first-class cricket), Gooch amassed 67,057 runs. He is also the second highest run-getter for England in tests, despite sitting out for three of his 20-year long international campaign due to a ban.
1987 World Cup stats
Iconic World Cup innings: 115 v India (Semi-final, 1987)
Gooch and Gatting teamed up to take England from 79/2 to a respectable total of 254 runs. He smashed 115 runs to help his team power through to the finals after a dominating performance against the defending champions.
The innings consisting of 11 boundaries against a top-notch bowling attack is considered one of the best in English World Cup history.
Alec Stewart [1989-2003]
One of the deadliest wicket-keeping batsmen in history, Alex Stewart was the lone warriors in a withering England squad in the 1990s.
Stewart is known for his longevity at the top of the batting order. He was productive in both the longer and shorter formats of the game and performed superbly.
His skill with the bat should take nothing away from the fact that he was excellent behind the stumps. Steward was a dependable keeper who recorded 451 international dismissals.
Unfortunately for him, his career coincided with one of the lowest points in English cricket. Stewart was the captain for the 1999 World Cup when they failed to get past the group stage.
Iconic World Cup innings: 88 against Sri Lanka
Great innings for England at the World Cup during this period were rare. However, Stewart deserves credit for his 88 against Sri Lanka in the team’s first game in the 1999 World Cup.
The performance was in vain as they failed to get past the group stage but it’s worth noting that it was Stewart’s first World Cup game as England captain and he led them to victory against the defending champions.
Kevin Pietersen [2004-2014]
With a tattoo-laden arm, a cheeky smile and an air of confidence – Kevin Pietersen surely knew how to establish himself as the centre of attention. But then, his bat usually justified all of it.
The lanky batsman burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s due to his destructive use of the willow married with great consistency.
Pietersen holds the record for the being the fastest to reach 2000 ODI runs and is behind only Sir Donald Bradman in terms of aggregate runs in the first 25 games.
At his peak, Pietersen was arguably the best batsman of England’s modern era. But the team failed him when it mattered most. He was their saving grace in the 2007 World Cup and ensured that they were not embarrassed like in the two preceding editions.
Pietersen was also extremely explosive in the shortest format of the game and was the Man of the Tournament in the 2010 T20 World Cup, the only ICC trophy in England’s cabinet.
His career was short-lived as multiple run-ins with the board forced him to call quits at the age of just 33.
2007 World Cup stats
Iconic World Cup innings: 100 v West Indies (Brian Lara farewell game)
On paper, it was a dead rubber game, with both West Indies and England out of the race for a spot in the semi-final. But for the Windies, it was more than just a game as it was time to bid adieu to Brian Lara, an icon of the sport.
Tasked to chase down a massive total of 300 runs, Pietersen turned up to spoil Lara’s party and hog the limelight. He scored a century in a thriller which England won with one ball to spare.
Although they failed to progress to the semis, this will remain an iconic World Cup game for Pietersen. With his supreme talent and confidence, Pietersen managed to make that game all about him.
Jos Buttler (2012-present)
England are definitely the team to beat this World Cup and Jos Buttler – yet another wicket-keeping batsman on the list – is one of the biggest reasons why.
The hard-hitting Buttler has been part of the core of English cricket ever since they were humiliated at the 2015 World Cup.
Unfortunately for him, he began peaking only after the tournament and failed to provide anything spectacular in his maiden World Cup.
But the astute batsman and will be the player to watch this time, as he looks to help England to their first-ever success at the global showpiece.
Jos Buttler went BIG against Nathan Coulter-Nile in the 27th over! 🔥— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) May 25, 2019
He brings up a 30-ball fifty in the 29th over before finding Khawaja at midwicket next ball - England 171/4 with 21 overs remaining. https://t.co/cuyCp2LSEm #ENGvAUS #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/QznjCblZeg
Iconic World Cup innings
Buttler is yet to display an iconic World Cup performance, having only been involved in England’s 2015 group-stage disaster thus far.
Mark Wood faced a nervous night pondering his World Cup fate after injury forced him out of England’s warm-up defeat against Australia.
The paceman abandoned his run-up mid-way through his first spell at the Ageas Bowl and left the field feeling pain in his left foot.
Wood’s history of ankle problems immediately raised concerns and, although he ran towards the pavilion rather than limping, he never re-emerged and was instead sent to a nearby hospital for scans.
Captain Eoin Morgan made the same journey just 24 hours earlier and was ultimately diagnosed with a small fracture in his left index finger.
That ruled him out of the 12-run loss but he expects to be passed fit for the curtain-raiser against South Africa next Thursday.
Wood would love to be given similarly positive news but though he appeared to be in good spirits as he returned to the team hotel, which forms part of Hampshire’s stadium complex, the outlook was uncertain on Saturday evening.
Jos Buttler, deputising for Morgan as skipper, said: “We’ll see how it turns out in the morning. It can be a worry for him.
“He’s worked really hard and it’s something he’s battled a bit which is a frustration for him. He puts in all the work, the medical staff are great with him, and I’m sure he’s in the best hands.
“We hope for the best for him.”
This was only Wood’s second appearance of the season, with an output totalling just 13.1 overs, thin workload for somebody heading into an intensive 10-team competition featuring games every few days.
England’s management were careful to manage his burden for Durham due to doubts over his ankle and keen to preserve a player who has the express pace to be the quickest bowler at the tournament.
He is a dangerous enough asset to earn the benefit of any marginal calls on his availability, but England have long been aware they may need to send for replacements over the course of a lengthy competition.
“Unfortunately in professional sport things like this happen,” acknowledged Buttler.
“Around a World Cup everything is heightened because you want everyone to be fit and firing. We’ll go through the six weeks and we’ll have niggles in our team but so will other teams. It’s just the nature of the game.
“It’s always a bit of a worry because you want everyone to sail through the tournament 100 per cent fit but that’s not the nature of how things are going to happen.”
David Willey stands by having been the last seamer to miss out on the final cut of 15, but England would much prefer Wood to get the all clear.
There were no real concerns over Liam Dawson, the Hampshire spinner suffering a painful blow while backing up the stumps and subsequently being removed from the batting line-up.
“Liam could have batted if it had been a World Cup game, it’s just a cut on his finger, but as they are warm-ups you can play it safe,” Buttler said.
“We want these guys fit and available for the first game of the World Cup.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Steve Smith brushed aside a predictably-frosty welcome at the Ageas Bowl as his match-winning century guided Australia to a 12-run victory over England as both sides continued their World Cup preparations.
Smith and team-mate David Warner were both taking on their old Ashes rivals for the first time since their year-long ball-tampering bans expired, and – although both men were barracked on their way to the crease – the former was seemingly oblivious as he made an accomplished 116.
While the jeers and accompanying chants of ‘cheat’ were to be expected, Smith may have been surprised to notice both his fifty and his century marked by generous applause from the more moderate members of the 11,500 in attendance.
None of England’s batsmen were able to match his class as they were dismissed for 285 and, although the match goes down as little more than a friendly, they surrendered an undefeated run of seven matches since the start of the summer.
That will not concern the hosts half as much as an injury to Mark Wood though, the seamer struck down with a left foot injury that required scans just 24 hours after captain Eoin Morgan fractured a finger.
Four successive fifties for Steve Smith now, averaging 164* in 50-over cricket since his return! World Cup on notice. #AUSvENG— Dave Middleton (@Dave_Middleton) May 25, 2019
Wood began brightly for England, serving notice of his express pace before hitting the jackpot with a slower ball that Aaron Finch lobbed to mid-on.
Wood was off the field soon after, as was his substitute Jofra Archer. He lasted less than an over before heading off in apparent discomfort, though he re-emerged after a break and was later added into the batting line-up.
With England’s numbers running thin, the call went out to assistant coach Paul Collingwood.
On the eve of his 43rd birthday and eight months on from his professional retirement, he changed into Wood’s kit, took up his old watch at backward point and let nobody down.
Warner had progressed happily to 43 and was eyeing the first half-century of his comeback when he went after Liam Plunkett.
The ball sailed high into the leg-side but straight into the hands of the sprinting Jonny Bairstow, Warner’s one-time Ashes enemy and recent Sunrisers Hyderabad team-mate.
The change of batsman offered the perfect storm for the critics in the stands, Warner heckled on his way out and Smith on his way in. The impact on the latter was non-existent, as he quickly settled into a familiar groove.
Liam Plunkett enjoyed a profitable day, adding the wickets of Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey and Nathan Coulter-Nile, but could not control Smith.
He tucked into pulls, drives and steers on the way to 50, which brought the first duelling reactions from the fans but a low-key acknowledgement from the batsman himself.
Smith needed only 42 balls to convert, reaching 99 with a flashy six off Ben Stokes then scooping Plunkett for another audacious maximum.
When the end came it was curious, what seemed like a bump ball going down in the book as a caught-and-bowled for Tom Curran with one ball of the innings left.
The chase was not a daunting one by England’s recent standards but their fearless opening pair were quieter than usual.
Jason Roy was dropped on nought by Smith, a ‘gimme’ at slip, but had yet to find his feet when Kane Richardson drew an awkward chip on 32. Bairstow, meanwhile, barely made a dent before returning the earlier favour by gifting Warner a catch.
Ben Stokes fared no little better, eking out 20 before stepping away to attack Nathan Lyon and losing his bails.
The innings was stalling when Jos Buttler (52) emerged and promptly received a short, sharp energy shot.
The stand-in skipper dashed to a 30-ball half-century, brutalising Nathan Coulter-Nile in the process.
The seamer’s first eight deliveries at Buttler disappeared for 30, including four boundaries and two mighty sixes, but the ninth was a charm.
Having seemed unconquerable, Buttler’s timing for once eluded him as a leading edge drifted in slow motion to Usman Khawaja.
As the game entered its last 10 overs, England still needed 61 – a feat that proved too tricky for the tail end.
Five of the lower order lost their wickets in the nervy denouement, bested by strong death bowling, with Chris Woakes 40 not enough to carry the day.