CWC 2019 review: Williamson's brilliance against South Africa among the top five knocks of tournament

Ashish Peter 20/07/2019
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Williamson led a magnificent chase against the Proteas.

The 2019 ICC World Cup will live long in the memory of cricket fans after an epic finale at Lord’s which saw England pip New Zealand to a maiden title.

While the final was as thrilling a cricket match as they come, the entire tournament was also an eventful one with some sensational individual and team displays along the way.

Here, we look at the top five batting knocks of the tournament.

Babar Azam (Pakistan)

101 not out vs New Zealand

Pakistan had been set a target of 238 in a must-win clash at Edgbaston against New Zealand and they found themselves in trouble after losing the openers early.

The pitch started to slow down drastically with Mitchell Santner finding grip and turn. Even Kane Williamson’s part time off-spin was spitting venom with Pakistan’s batsmen finding the going tough.

Babar, however, survived an extremely testing period in the middle overs before going on the attack against the other bowlers. The Pakistan No3 was a picture of concentration out in the middle and he took the attack to the seamers and spinners alike once the target came closer.

The right-hander brought a packed Birmingham crowd to its feet when he brought up his maiden World Cup ton before taking his team home with five balls to spare.

A fine maiden World Cup ton for Babar Azam.

A fine maiden World Cup ton for Babar Azam.

Nathan Coulter-Nile (Australia)

92 vs West Indies

Australia were reeling at 147-6 in the 31st against the West Indies at Trent Bridge when Nathan Coulter-Nile arrived in the middle to join Steve Smith at the crease.

Aaron Finch’s men were in real danger of being bowled out inside 50 overs before Coulter-Nile turned things around with a counter-attacking innings.

The pacer struck his maiden ODI half-century and was looking good for a sensational ton before he holed out to Jason Holder at long-off for a 60-ball 92. A total of 12 boundaries including four sixes were thumped by the right-hander who had taken Australia’s total to 284-9 by the time he was dismissed.

It turned out to be a match-winning knock in the end with the Aussies registering a 15-run win.

A counter-attacking of the highest order from Coulter-Nile.

A counter-attacking of the highest order from Coulter-Nile.

Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies)

101 vs New Zealand

In what was a must-win game for Windies to keep their semi-final hopes alive, they found themselves struggling at 164-7 in a daunting chase of 292 against the Kiwis.

With all established batsmen bar Carlos Brathwaite back in the pavilion, it seemed like a hopeless cause for the Caribbean side. However, the all-rounder came mighty close to pulling off the improbable at Manchester.

Forging valuable partnerships with the tailenders, Brathwaite took Windies close to the finish line with the equation ultimately coming down to 47 off the final five overs with one wicket in hand.

Brathwaite tonked Matt Henry for 25 runs in the 48th over to put Windies within touching distance before tragedy struck in the next over. The all-rounder lifted the final delivery of the penultimate over towards the mid-wicket boundary where Trent Boult pulled off a stunning catch on the edge of the ropes.

A few more inches and that would have been a match-winning six for Windies but in the end, Brathwaite’s maiden ODI ton ended in agony.

Heartbreak in the end for Brathwaite and Windies.

Heartbreak in the end for Brathwaite and Windies.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand)

106 not out vs South Africa

While Brathwaite was unable to finish the job for his side at Old Trafford, Williamson had made no such mistake when he guided his team across the finish line against South Africa earlier in the tournament at Birmingham.

The Black Caps skipper saw his side reduced to 80-4 in a tricky chase of 242 on a very challenging surface but remained unflustered in the face of pressure to produce an innings of the highest quality.

Keeping the scoreboard ticking in customary fashion without taking too many risks, Williamson found an able ally in Colin de Grandhomme with the duo adding 91 runs for the sixth wicket.

However, Grandhomme fell in the 48th over in another late twist with the equation eventually coming down to eight required off the final over. Having kept his cool all game, Williamson launched into the second delivery to smash his first six of the match while also bringing up a spectacular century in the process.

A cleverly crafted boundary off the next delivery meant the right-hander had pulled off a stunning escape for his side.

Pure brilliance from the Black Caps skipper.

Pure brilliance from the Black Caps skipper.

Ben Stokes (England)

84 not out vs New Zealand

The England all-rounder played five innings of note throughout the tournament and all of them when his side was under extreme pressure. The best of the lot without a doubt, however, was the one he played in the final at Lord’s to hand England their maiden World Cup title.

The hosts looked to be crumbling under the pressure of a tricky run-chase of 242 with the tide well and truly against them at 86-4 in the 24th over.

Stokes, though, got stuck in once again at the crease in determined fashion and forged a valuable partnership with Jos Buttler for the fifth wicket. Buttler’s dismissal opened the floodgates once again with England’s tailenders falling in quick succession.

Stokes, however, would not be moved at the other end and the all-rounder kept England within reach somehow. 21 runs were required off the final four deliveries before Stokes launches Trent Boult for a huge six.

The left-hander then got his slice of luck in the next delivery with Martin Guptill’s throw deflecting off before running away for a boundary. His unbeaten 84 (95) took the tie into a Super Over where he was excellent once again and he is now deservedly the toast of England after that stellar display.

It was arguably Stokes' greatest ODI innings.

It was arguably Stokes’ greatest ODI innings.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Stats back Australian Alex Carey as tournament's best wicket-keeper

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Alex Carey

Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Joe Root have the straightforward numbers to lay their claims as the best batsmen of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

Mitchell Starc – who took 27 wickets – can boast of being arguably the best bowler of the tournament.

How do we compare wicket-keepers, who are tasked to not just fulfil their primary duty behind the stumps, but also chip in with crucial runs?

We use metrics of batting average and dismissals per innings to pick out three of the best and all-rounded keepers from the tournament.

A graphic depicting the performance of the wicket-keepers in the CWC 2019

A graphic depicting the performance of the wicket-keepers in the CWC 2019

The x-axis of the graph produced using numbers obtained from Cricinfo measures the batting average of the wicket-keepers. The y-axis scales the dismissals per innings, which corresponds to the total stumpings plus catches per innings.

  1. Tom Latham (New Zealand)

The Kiwis’ man behind the stumps Tom Latham had a sub-par tournament with the bat, much like most of his team-mates. He could manage just 155 runs at an average of just 19.38 and a strike-rate of 71.76.

However, with an average of 2.1 dismissals per game, the 27-year-old has more than made up for it. He was at the end of 21 catches in 10 games, three of them arriving in the crucial semi-final game against India.

A simple eye-test across the World Cup could vouch for his spot on the podium. Latham finished the tournament as the keeper with the most dismissals and has achieved it at the maximum rate.

The Christchurch-born player was never among the runs but his 56-ball 47 against England in the finals was one of the most composed innings under pressure. Latham provided his team a fighting chance on a slowing pitch, delivering when they needed him most.

  1. Jos Buttler (England)

Buttler (6)

World Champion Jos Buttler is the next player to step on the podium. The 28-year-old was involved in 1.2 dismissals per game and recorded a healthy average of 34.67 en route to his impressive tournament total of 312 runs.

The Englishman’s importance to his side is not limited to the numbers on this chart, for it does not take into consideration the weight of the runs scored.

Buttler’s 60-ball 59 against New Zealand in the final could very well go down as the most important innings of his life. Over time he has proved to be a solid, dependable batsman and his reputation of the same soared in the final.

The wicket-keeper has an impressive overall strike-rate of 122.83, which is superior to that of every other glovesman in the tournament. But his most important contribution to his team will always be the 110-run partnership with Ben Stokes during which he took England’s score from 86/4 to 196/5 in the final.

  1. Alex Carey (Australia)
Alex Carey

Alex Carey

While Adam Gilchrist partnered with Matthew Hayden during Australia’s golden age to provide strong starts, Alex Carey has played a crucial role in cleaning the mess left behind by their current under-performing middle-order.

With 375 runs, Carey finished the tournament as the top run-getter among wicket-keepers. His average of 62.5 is a notch above that of any other player and he also maintained a great strike-rate of 104.17.

The 27-year-old was involved in 20 dismissals, including two stumpings. His dismissal rate of 2.0 per innings is second only to that of Latham.

However, unlike Latham and Buttler, Carey was an extremely crucial entity to his team’s batting line-up. In fact, his 375 runs accounts for 14 per cent of Australia’s total of 2757 runs off the bat. This puts him ahead of the likes of Usman Khawaja (11%), Glenn Maxwell (6%) and Marcus Stoinis (3%) and on par with Steve Smith (14%).

A pie-chart of the runs scored by Australian batsmen in the CWC 2019

A pie-chart of the runs scored by Australian batsmen in the CWC 2019

Carey proved his mettle against big teams, scoring fifties against India and New Zealand and was the lone warrior against England in the semi-final. The fact that most of his runs have arrived under pressure adds more weight to them.

Is safe to say, the 27-year-old was the best all-roundwicket-keeper of the World Cup and the Aussies struck gold with the player who is still in the early stages of his career.

Honourable mention – Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh), Shai Hope (West Indies)

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Cricket World Cup 2019: That winning moment and others that will live long in the memory

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The dust has settled after an entertainment Cricket World Cup culminated with arguably the greatest game in the sport’s rich history.

England and New Zealand fought tooth and nail in the final before the former claimed victory after a tied Super Over, winning their first-ever title in front of their home support.

That final will live long in the memory, but there were a few other moments over the course of the tournament that are worth revisiting…

STOKED FOR AN OVERTHROW

The hosts needed nine to win off three balls and when Ben Stokes raced back for two after hitting Trent Boult to deep midwicket, the throw from Martin Guptill struck the Englishman’s outstretched bat in a freak incident and raced away to the boundary.

It was the kind of lucky break no one could’ve seen coming and New Zealand were helpless. As a result, England were awarded six runs instead of two, drastically changing the equation.

Requiring just three of the remaining two deliveries, Stokes was able to tie the scores and take the final to a Super Over but according to ICC rules, only five runs should’ve been awarded in that scenario as the batsmen hadn’t crossed when the throw was released.

Furthermore, that would’ve seen Adil Rashid on strike for the next ball instead of Stokes. It doesn’t automatically mean New Zealand would’ve won instead but certainly sparks controversy.

The fact that Boult had caught Stokes off a slower Jimmy Nesham ball in the previous over only adds to the drama.

ALL-ROUND STAR

As far as his own performances go, Shakib Al Hassan had the perfect tournament.

But the moment that stood out was his all-round display during a 62-run victory over Afghanistan because that’s when he sent numerous records tumbling at the Rose Bowl.

On a slow track, Shakib’s hard fought 51 helped Bangladesh to a competitive 262/7 before bamboozling batsmen with the ball and delivering figures of 5/29 as Afghanistan were dismissed for 200 in 47 overs.

In doing so, Shakib matched Yuvraj Singh’s record of scoring 50-plus runs and taking five wickets in the same World Cup match.

He also became the first cricketer in World Cup history to score 400-plus runs and pick up 10 wickets in the same tournament.

To further his status as one of the best all-rounders of all-time, Shakib became the first player to score 1000-plus runs and take 30-plus wickets in World Cups.

But what truly made his World Cup special was the progress he showed as a batsman. Having been promoted up the order recently, he has been remarkably consistent and became the joint-third fastest to 1000 ODI runs batting at No3.

SHARMA’S BIGGEST HIT

Ever since he first broke onto the international scene in 2007, Rohit Sharma has been hailed a batting prodigy but inconsistency has always haunted him.

The Mumbai-born opener was in ominous form during this tournament though, finishing as top scorer with 648 runs from just nine innings with an average of 81.

The crowning glory of his campaign was that blistering knock of 140 against Pakistan off just 113 balls. After launching Hassan Ali for six with a glorious pull-shot early on in his innings, he never looked back.

What followed was a masterful display of stroke play with the odd hefty blow adding an element of punch to a scintillating innings.

The fact that it came against fierce rivals Pakistan and helped India extend their winning streak against them at World Cups (now seven wins) only made it sweeter.

It was Rohit Sharma at his very best.

SHAHEEN SHINES BRIGHT

Shaheen Shah Afridi only featured in five of Pakistan’s eight league games but his tally of 16 wickets – the most by at teenage at a World Cup – was just one shy of Mohammad Amir’s who played every single one.

By the time Pakistan faced Bangladesh in their final league game, the knockout stages were beyond reach but that didn’t stop Shaheen from leaving his mark on the tournament.

The left-arm quick bowled phenomenally to deliver figures of 6/35 as he led his side to a 94-run win.

The dismissal of Mahmudullah was special. Bowling over the wicket to the right-hander, his in-swinging yorker couldn’t have been better placed. And with the stumps rattled, Shaheen became the youngest bowler to take five World Cup wickets in a single match.

His sixth scalp of the day meant his spell was the best-ever by a Pakistan bowler at a World Cup.

THE BUTTLER DID IT

England have waited 44 years for this precise moment and though this dominant side shouldn’t have left their fans sweating, it was fitting that they triumphed in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Chasing 16 runs for victory in the Super Over, New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham navigated the first five balls well, launching Jofra Archer for six in the second delivery. Aided by some excellent running between the wickets from Guptil, the Kiwis only needed two off the final ball.

However, it was Guptil on strike for the first time in the over and his punch to deep midwicket was straight to Jason Roy. He scampered back for a second but was never winning that race.

The throw wasn’t perfect and Buttler had to stretch to collect it before destroying the stumps in one big arcing motion as if sweeping away the misery of the last four decades along the way. Guptil was well short and the keeper instantly set off on wild celebration, tossing the ball away, then his glove.

The Super Over was tied but England had won on a technicality, scoring more boundaries in their six deliveries. By the slimmest margins imaginable, England were champions.

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