The Cricket World Cup is in full flow and though there’s a table that sorts out the teams, there are few ways to keep tabs on the best players.
As such, we’re putting together a regular ‘player power ranking’ that monitors the top 10 players throughout the league stages in an effort to track the true MVPs of the summer.
The first edition analyses the stars from the opener between England versus South Africa through to Bangladesh v South Africa on June 2. There’ll likely be one or two Indians who mix up the bunch once they get their campaign under way against the Proteas on June 5.
1. Ben Stokes (England)
Dictionary definition of an all-rounder: Stokes’ performance against South Africa. One run-out, two wickets, two catches (including perhaps the finest you’ll ever see at a World Cup) to go with an innings of 89 that married composure with carnage at the end. To think, he was supposed to be out of form.
2. Andre Russell (West Indies)
That Russell lay waste to the IPL with his bat despite an assortment of injuries was impressive enough. That he somehow found an extra few yards of pace, complete with a troublesome knee, was jaw-dropping – not least for the Pakistani batsmen. His short-ball siege, comprising 18 deliveries, two wickets and just four runs yielded, was as fearsome as any West Indies spell of yore.
3. Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Bangladesh thrashed their highest ODI total ever and it was fitting that Shakib played a central role. Al Hasan has been one of the world’s premier all-rounders over the past decade and it was a momentous day on multiple levels. Having posted a fine knock of 75 as the Tigers motored to a record-breaking 330 against South Africa, the 32-year-old became only the 5th all-rounder in ODI history to do the double of 5,000 runs and 250 wickets with the timely scalp of Aiden Markram.
4. Jofra Archer (England)
Archer could do 150kph in a 80kph zone and the speed cameras still wouldn’t flash. So deceptively quick is the 24-year-old that Hashim Amla thought he had time to get his hands up for a pull shot before the ball found its way into his grill. With Amla an unfortunate victim, the new kid on the international block then accounted for Markram, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and the hearts of thousands of England fans.
5. David Warner (Australia)
The bold and brash Warner rocked up to Bristol and … played within himself. It wasn’t the perfect innings and he came under heavy pressure against a tight Afghanistan bowling attack that didn’t allow the Aussies to free their arms. The scorecard says it was a comfortable win, but Warner’s circumspection – he’s done a lot of that on and off the pitch recently – in a hostile country deserves praise.
6. Matt Henry (New Zealand)
Tim Southee, consider the gauntlet laid down. Henry retained his place in a New Zealand attack that adores green pitches from Christchurch to Cardiff. And it was at it Sophia’s Gardens where Henry picked apart an admittedly woeful Sri Lanka with nagging line and length – less showy than Southee’s swing, but just as devastating. Lahiru Thirmanne and Kusals Mendis and Perera at the top of the order all perished during Henry’s 3-27 day.
7. Oshane Thomas (West Indies)
There were fears over West Indies’ strike bowling heading into the summer. It turns out Thomas hadn’t truly introduced himself to the world yet. He served notice following a five-fer against England back in the Caribbean – and his vicious treatment of Pakistan on Friday made everyone sit up and notice. The burly 22-year-old seems to hang in the air before slamming his body back down to earth and unleashing his rockets. The dangerous Babar Azam and Mohammed Hafeez was part of his 4-27 onslaught and though it was a bowler’s wicket, Thomas is some bowler.
8. Lockie Ferguson (New Zealand)
While Henry brought irritating consistency to the table against Sri Lanka, Ferguson brought the chaos. At an average of 145kph, Ferguson clears second-placed Archer as the fastest bowler in the world in 2019 by a whopping 5kph. He was far too quick for Sri Lanka in Sophia’s Gardens, with his pace skidding on to thump Dhananjaya de Silva’s leg a particular highlight. Two Blackcaps bowlers mentioned without any word of Trent Boult – things look very rosy for the Kiwis indeed.
9. Alex Carey (Australia)
Long gone are the days of Adam Gilchrist and Carey was perceived as the weakest link in this Australia side. On his World Cup debut, the 27-year-old became the second Australia wicket-keeper to effect five dismissals in a World Cup innings – alongside you-know-who, Gilchrist. He’s nowhere near the belligerent bat that Gilchrist was, but his lightning hands against Afghanistan underlined the worth of a true gloveman.
Most dismissals by a keeper on World Cup debut— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 1, 2019
6 Sarfaraz Ahmed vs RSA, 2015
5 Jimmy Adams vs Kenya, 1996
5 Alex Carey vs AFG, TODAY #CWC19
10. Mohammad Saifuddin (Bangladesh)
These rankings don’t just judge pure numbers – they take into account match-winning moments, too. Saifuddin’s time in the spotlight certainly stands up to the test, as the bowling all-rounder let his right-arm do the talking in the 40th over of a nail-biting South Africa chase. He castled a well-set Van der Dussen – whose shot selection was woeful – but a wicket-maiden, which he then followed up with the scalp of Andile Phelukwayo, swung the game Bangladesh’s way.
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Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan had a brilliant day in the field against South Africa at the 2019 World Cup on Sunday, first scoring a fine fifty before picking up the crucial wicket of Aiden Markram in the Proteas’ chase.
Shakib has been the pillar of Bangladesh’s ODI cricket with the bat, ball and as a leader. He was on top of his game at The Oval, scoring a fine 75 to help the Tigers post their best ever ODI score of 330-6 before taking the scalp of a well-set Markram. That dismissal put Shakib in a select group of all-rounders.
Shakib’s performance was undoubtedly a special moment of this World Cup. We are compiling such top moments from the showpiece event in England. Read about the Fakhar Zaman dismissal here.
Shakib became just the fifth player in ODI history to do the double of 5,000 runs and 250 wickets after legends Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi, Jacques Kallis and Abdul Razzaq.
Shakib is also the quickest to the mark – reaching the milestone in 199 matches. Shakib now has 5,792 runs to go with his 250 scalps in ODIs.
Shakib Al Hasan became the fastest cricketer to reach 250 wickets and 5,000 runs in ODI cricket.@Sah75official - 199th match— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) June 2, 2019
Abdul Razzaq 258, Shahid Afridi 273, Jacques Kallis 296 and Sanath Jayasuriya 304 matches respectively.
WHY IT IS SPECIAL
Shakib is a top-order batsman nowadays and has been struggling with finger injury for the last season. Against a top team like South Africa, he not only put the runs on board but also made an impact with the ball. His tally of well over one wicket a game is superb in the modern day for any finger spinner.
The veteran all-rounder has been around for more than a decade and he has sustained his performances in both departments, which can’t be said about many all-rounders in ODI cricket.
England proved their title credentials in the opening game of the 2019 World Cup, crushing South Africa by 104 runs. The form of Ben Stokes and pace spearhead Jofra Archer should fill the hosts with confidence as they take on Pakistan in Nottingham on Monday.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s Men in Green were blown away by West Indies pacer’s short-ball ploy as they folded for just 105 at Trent Bridge. What’s more, England’s recent ODI series whitewash over Sarfraz’s men gives the hosts a clear edge in their encounter on Monday but you can never discount Pakistan at a world event.
The match will be played on the same surface that produced world-record scores of 481 and 444 – both by England – in the last three years. With another high-scoring encounter expected, we take a look at three key battles that could shape the match.
Jofra Archer v Babar Azam
Archer’s three-wicket burst against the Proteas was probably more significant than Stokes’ all-round display against South Africa as he provided the missing ingredient in England’s already brilliant outfit – raw and consistent pace. They way Archer hurried South Africa’s batsmen and got a class batsman like Faf du Plessis off a short ball shows that he is the real deal.
He will once again be the go-to man for Morgan and it will be up to Pakistan’s best batsman – Babar Azam – to keep the lanky quick at bay. While Pakistan have fallen to their 11th straight ODI defeat, the consistent form of Babar has given them some solace. If he gets on top of Archer, it will be game on.
Eoin Morgan v Sarfraz Ahmed
Leadership skills and team selection will be key in this game and both captains have some tough calls to make. Morgan will be toying with the idea of bringing in Mark Wood’s extra pace to beef up the bowling line-up while Sarfraz simply has to bring in hard-hitting and in-form batsman Asif Ali to provide some stability to a fragile line-up.
Also, how the captains marshal their resources on the field and don’t let the game drift away during what could be a high-scoring match will have a major bearing on the outcome. Everything is going perfectly for Morgan and not so for Sarfraz. But it can all change in the blink of an eye.
Jonny Bairstow v Mohammad Amir
England opener Bairstow got out for a golden duck against the Proteas, and will be desperate to make amends on what should be a superb pitch to bat. A quality and in-form batsman like Bairstow can’t be kept quiet for long and England will be banking on him to get a good start.
Looking to stop Jonny in his tracks will be left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who finally got among the wickets during the seven-wicket thrashing by the Windies. Amir’s 3-26 was his first two-wicket plus effort in an ODI in two years. A couple of wickets – hopefully Bairstow and Jason Roy – early and that would be half the job done.