By Power Corridors ,  15-Aug-2019

This time the World Cup tourney was marred with many unexpected and un-reasonable practices becoming opportunities to learn from in 2024

With admission of Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena that his decision of awarding six runs from a freak overthrow in the last over of the World Cup final to England was wrong, a final blow to a most controversial ICC World Cup has started a never ending debate. At the same time The International Cricket Council has stated that it is the umpire's interpretation of rulebook, regarding the Cricket World Cup final overthrow controversy, and its not supposed to rectify. Former umpire Simon Taufel was the first person to state that England should have been awarded five runs instead of six. England edged past New Zealand in the 2019 Cricket World Cup final, at Lord's. It wasn't an easy win, with the hosts drawing in the Super Over too. The winner was controversially decided on the basis of a superior boundary count. Also, another major controversy, which was also a turning point in the match, was the misinterpretation of rules by the umpires, which led to England being given an extra run. This has led many to criticize ICC. Though Dharmasena has washed his hands by stating that he signalled six after consulting the other match officials. Former Sri Lankan Test player Dharmasena told the Sunday Times he did not have the benefit of television replays which showed the batsmen had not crossed. "I agree that there was an error of judgement when I see it on TV replays now. But we did not have the luxury of TV replays at the ground and I do not regret the decision I made". A throw to the stumps deflected off the bat of a diving Ben Stokes as he tried to complete a second run and raced to the boundary, with Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena awarding six.

Even though rediculed for being outsourced team England under the cool head of Eoin Morgan showed its never die attitude and became champion for the first time. So at last Cricket summit was attained by who are said to be Father of this game. It would be easy to see this as the pinnacle, but how incredible would it be to push for an Australia-esque World Cup dynasty? England’s run to the semi-finals, and indeed final, could not have been more quintessentially English. The team came into the tournament on a great run and hope was lifted to even greater heights with a few high-quality performances, only to be met with a crash back to traditional English cynicism when we almost inevitably lost to two tournament underdogs. From this point on though, they were exceptional, rising to the challenge of what essentially became four consecutive knockout games. Final was the best game of cricket world has witnessed and quite possibly the best of all time. The match had it all and England finally proved that they can stand up in those pressure moments in a knockout tournament. They had no small degree of luck and there was plenty of tension, but how else would you want to win your first Cricket World Cup?

Its beyond doubt that Kane Williamson was obviously player of the tournament. But Shakib Al Hasan was the true star of the World Cup. After spending a decade being the most underrated international cricketer in the most underrated international team, Shakib finally became a household name – for those households with Sky TV anyway. His consistency batting at No 3, often arriving at the crease early in the innings, and scoring at nearly a run a ball was staggering. Add to that tidy reliable off-spin and you have the complete package.

New Zealand delivered the greatest of World Cup finals. No other countries would have produced such a game. New Zealand always get stuck into games and regularly deliver some of the greatest cricketing spectacles. It’s such a shame we remain financially uninteresting for cricketing schedulers. Winning the World Cup might have changed that, but we are worthy runners-up.

India were like a critically acclaimed television show. After power-packed leading performances from neo-noir legend Rohit Sharma and the experimental yet highly engaging directorship from Jasprit Bumrah, most expected that pair, along with a strong supporting cast, to help India execute a stunning finale. But, despite bringing in the biggest viewing figures, the show was cancelled at the last moment by the executives at the World Cup – the notorious finalist Kiwis. As expected MS Dhoni, though a fan favourite, spoiled the campaign. His personal style did not suit the overall tone of present ODI. Rishabh Pant, has time and again proved that he is not yet ready for the biggest stage, still management persisted. Scriptwriter Virat Kohli was excellent but still did not meet his lofty standards and fluffed the ending. Cameos from Ravindra Jadeja grabbed bits and pieces of the public imagination and an unexpected starring role during India’s final moments justified calls for his regular introduction to the set-up in the future.

Semi finalists Australia was horribly thrashed in the semi-final, even though they performed above expectations. Six months ago no one expected them to make it to the last four. In some respects we can say they got through because other sides failed to deliver. Mitchell Starc was our best performer. It was a shame he went AWOL in the last two matches. Alex Carey looked a class above most in his ball-striking and attitude. He was a real find. To play a great knock after being cleaned up by Jofra Archer really showed he has what it takes. The performances of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis were really disappointing. The one innings where Maxwell looked really like to kick into gear was the one where Usman Khawaja ran him out horribly. The semi-final revealed team's all weaknesses at once. Unfortunately their domestic one-day competition is now contained in a short period at the start of season and that's not enough for players to improve their skills in this format on the biggest international stage.

Even though Pakistan finished fifth in group, it did well. Pak's performance would be viewed much more positively had it reached the semi-finals, but that’s how fine the margins are. The game against West Indies was very costly and some fans think the Sri Lanka washout was a missed opportunity. Although they have no one to blame but themselves for not reaching the last four. Pakistan did have a few special players coming through and that will surely help, although fielding remains a problem.

Sri Lanka were hot favourites to finish in the bottom two, yet finished sixth and may have qualified for the semis had we won our two washed-out matches. Avishka Fernando was the find of tournament for them. They have a bright talent for future. In fact, it could have a fearsome batting unit in 2023. The bowling will be the real concern. SL have to search hard for the next Malingas and Muralis. Malinga still has a role to play in four years’ time. SL need his personality and experience in the team and former cricketers need to take part in building cricket from scratch. No encouraging sign from current administration, which seems useless.

South Africa stood seventh in group. It took SA four games to get a point on the board and that too courtesy the English summer and its ever changing weather. South Africa paid the price for a terribly slow start, and highlights were few and far between. The AB De Villiers debate before the tournament obviously didn’t help. They were so poor early on. The late wins against Sri Lanka and and Australia, were spoiled by the fact that there was so very little to play for. Wasting a successful 300+ run chase against Australia in a dead rubber will hurt them always.

Bangladesh Tigers threatened to be the story of the World Cup, but it never quite happened. Instead the campaign ended in a whimper with damaging losses against both south Asian neighbours. After a great start to the tournament – beating South Africa and almost forcing a win against the Kiwis – the defeat to Pakistan was particularly disappointing given the historical context and the fact they were playing in front of a packed house at Lord’s. It was easily their worst performance of the tournament and had to settle for being eighth in group. Their stunning run chase against the Windies on the postage stamp-sized Taunton ground was the tournament highlight, reaching the target of 322 with such ease and with so many overs to spare. It gave fans genuine hope for a top-four finish. Had fine margins gone their way, a semi-final place would have been a reality. The team didn’t quite live up to its billing for the emotional Tiger fans. A feeling of the wheels coming off was compounded by the swift dismissal of coach Steve Rhodes long before England lifted the trophy.

West Indies were terrible in this premier show. Bowling Pakistan out for 105 in the first game gave early hopes, but there wasn’t enough thought into anything after that and played out the tournament as a Chris Gayle testimonial tour. At least WI beat a plucky Afghanistan side. The authorities must begin planning for the next World Cup immediately by investing in players who will be available solely for the longer version of the game. WI had become champions of the T20 game, but the same players struggled while playing longer formats. T20 is hurting the quality of players in the longer versions. The problem remains that WI has a very small pool of players.

Afghanistan, was a team defeated by its administrators just before taking off from Kabul. Chopping and changing the leadership at last moment costed them dearly. It was always going to be tough. Though they didn’t take any points but there were some competitive performances. Falling 11 runs short of beating India, and two balls from shocking Pakistan, were the best memories for them. Captain had plenty to say before the tournament, but his inexperience showed in the field. It will be happy if they progress tactically and learn from the experience of playing against the very best under new leader Rashid Khan.