The 2019 World Cup will live long in the memory of cricket fans after the epic finale at Lord’s which saw hosts England clinch their maiden title in the most-extraordinary fashion.
The World Cup had been faced with criticism long before it began after the number of participating teams was reduced to 10 and it did face its hiccups in the tournament-stage as well, with several matches being wiped out because of rain without the provision of a reserve day.
However, despite its shortcomings, the 2019 World Cup proved to be one of the most exciting in recent history with several factors working for it.
Here, we take a look at the biggest positives from the tournament.
Even contest between bat and ball
Before the tournament began, all the talk had been about the 500-run barrier being broken in ODI cricket but none of that transpired in England.
While there were some big scores over the course of the tournament, even the 400-run mark was not breached in the end. Ultimately, it was a glorious throwback to ODI cricket of the 1990s and early 2000s with low-scoring encounters becoming a common theme once again.
The two semi-finals as well as the summit clash saw some pulsating cricket being played around totals below 250 with the latter being the perfect testament to what was a pretty even contest between bat and ball throughout the tournament.
Bowlers have a field day
ODI cricket had become heavily skewed in the favour of batsmen over the last few years or so, but bowlers were able to make a roaring comeback in the World Cup.
It wasn’t just the batsmen who made hay with several bowling records being broken along the way, including that of the highest wicket tally in a single World Cup edition.
The average run-rate in World Cups had been constantly increasing since the 2003 edition, but it dipped this time to 5.59 compared to 2015 when it was at 5.65.
It was a pure exhibition of the most menacing form of fast-bowling at times with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Jasprit Bumrah making the batsmen jump and hop to their tunes.
While some of the batting and bowling in the World Cup was top notch, the fielding wasn’t too far behind with some stunning catches being claimed all over the park.
From Ben Stokes’ one-handed grab in the tournament opener against South Africa to Sheldon Cottrell’s sublime effort at the boundary ropes to claim Steve Smith’s catch, there was no dearth of some sensational acrobatics in the field.
Smith was on the receiving end of another absolute stunner in the field in Australia’s clash against New Zealand where Martin Guptill pulled off an outrageous catch while fielding inside the inner ring.
All in all, the collection of best catches in the 2019 edition will take some topping in the future.
ODI cricket is still alive and kicking
With the advent of the T20s, one-day cricket had started to find itself in a weird spot between the shortest format and Tests with the popularity of the 50-over game taking a dip.
Many had feared for the future of ODI cricket but the reports of its demise seem greatly exaggerated after a tournament for the ages in England. With its abundance of nail-biting thrillers and low-scoring encounters, the 2019 World Cup has brought the 50-over format back into the spotlight.
Some of the skills displayed by batsmen, bowlers and fielders were nothing short of sensational with the momentum of a game changing in a matter of minutes. Seeing batsmen dominate the game had become a tad boring and the World Cup has come just at the right time to prove that the format still has a future.
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Alastair Cook’s overriding feeling when watching England’s cricket World Cup final victory unfold was “disbelief”.
The 34-year-old, who retired from international cricket in September last year, could not watch all of the action as he was on County Championship duty, but he enjoyed the thrilling conclusion with his Essex team-mates.
Ben Stokes starred as England beat New Zealand on Sunday following a super over, and former Test captain Cook told PA: “It was amazing.
“I only watched the last hour-and-a-half really as we were playing for Essex, so to see that and share that excitement of England winning a World Cup amongst an Essex cricket team was fantastic.
“There was disbelief, disbelief at how a game of cricket after seven hours, eight hours can be a tie and still another tie, it was an incredible advert for the game of cricket.
“I was so happy for the England guys to win and obviously you feel a bit sorry for the New Zealand guys to lose by such fine margins. The way they handled that was spectacular.”
There was controversy when, in the last over, Stokes and Adil Rashid pushed for a second run when a throw from the boundary deflected off Stokes’ outstretched bat and away for four overthrows and six runs in total.
It has since been suggested that England should have only been awarded five runs, but Cook added: “I don’t make the rules and I don’t totally understand them, but it was a pure accident by Stokesy.
“He’s joked since that it was the only one he timed in the whole innings. It probably showed that we had the rub of the green, the luck of the Irish, it was just a fantastic way to finish.”
Former spin bowler Monty Panesar, who, along with Cook, was speaking at the premiere of cricket documentary The Edge charting the rise of the England Test team, hailed the strength of the current ODI squad.
He believes England will take the momentum into the Ashes later this summer, and said: “I didn’t play any white-ball cricket and when I played in 2007 we had a lot of weaknesses in our team, but this team just looks so strong.
“The two opening batsmen…if they produce a really strong partnership it allows all of the other batters to play with freedom, no fear, and that’s what I think Eoin Morgan has brought and it’s brilliant to see.
“All departments are really strong, I think England have set the benchmark in ODI cricket for all the other nations to follow. I don’t know if any nation can catch up with England at the moment.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen England be so dominant against Australia.
“I’m really looking forward to the Ashes because I’m hoping they can continue that form in red-ball cricket and keep dominating Australia because we always like to see Australia lose on English soil!”
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Several batting records were broken in the just concluded 2019 ICC World Cup, but it didn’t really turn out to be the batting festival as predicted by many before the tournament began.
Ultimately, it ended up being a pretty even contest between bat and ball in England with bowlers making their voices heard loud and clear over the course of the six weeks.
Among the bowlers, it was the pacers who were the more dominant force compared to the spinners with conditions in England playing to their strengths.
What was more remarkable about the bowling display in the World Cup was the success enjoyed by left-armed pacers. Among the top nine wicket-takers of the tournament, as many as five of them were left-armed fast bowlers.
Here, we look at their incredible showing in the 2019 World Cup.
Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)
The teenager was not an initial part of the Pakistan playing XI, but he seized his opportunity with both hands after Hasan Ali’s ineffective showings.
Afridi bowled with some venom in his five outings with his cleverly disguised slower delivery doing plenty of damage. Just over a year ago, the youngster was playing in the U19 World Cup for Pakistan and now he has his name on Lord’s honours board following his five-wicket haul against Bangladesh.
His figures of 6-35 against the Tigers was the best by any bowler in the entire tournament.
Trent Boult (New Zealand)
The New Zealand stalwart has consistently been up among the very best over the past four years or so and he did not disappoint in the World Cup.
Boult led the formidable Kiwi pace attack admirably in the tournament with his trademark inswingers to right-handed batsmen making plenty of appearances.
The southpaw was at his very best in the semi-final against India where he trapped danger-man Virat Kohli plumb in front of the wickets with another booming inswinger.
Mohammad Amir (Pakistan)
The Pakistan pacer couldn’t buy a wicket to save his life over the past two years, but they came at bucketloads for him in the World Cup.
Amir was back to his very best in England and showed some excellent control with both the new and the older ball. The senior Pakistan left-armed pacer was particularly brilliant in his side’s loss to Australia at Taunton where he returned with figures of 5-30.
All that and more from a man who was not picked in Pakistan’s initial 15-man World Cup squad.
Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh)
While he might have been slightly on the more expensive side, Mustafizur Rahman turned out to be Bangladesh’s best wicket-taking threat in the tournament.
The 23-year-old did extremely well to finish as the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament and managed to bag five-wicket hauls against India and Pakistan with the latter coming at the iconic Lord’s.
His canny slower deliveries in the death overs worked a treat and the youngster is starting to look like his former self once again after what was a lean period for him.
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
It was once again Starc’s tournament to shine with the Aussie pace spearhead finishing as the top wicket-taker for the second World Cup campaign in a row.
Starc created history in England by bettering his compatriot Glenn McGrath’s record of picking up 26 wickets in a single World Cup edition in 2003.
The southpaw hurried batsmen up with his express pace while also managing to generate some late movement with the white-ball. His booming yorkers were on point in England and his delivery to shatter Ben Stokes’ stumps in the round-robin clash was arguably the best delivery of the entire tournament.
Mitchell Starc has now taken the most wickets by a bowler at a single World Cup; passing Glenn McGrath’s record of 26 wickets in the 2007 World Cup #CWC19 #CmonAussie #AUSvENG #ENGvAUS 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/Zag9j8TUGG— Fox Sports Lab (@FoxSportsLab) July 11, 2019