When the 2023 ICC World Cup is looked back upon, in the years to come, it will not be adjudged based on who won and who lost. Instead, the competition will be remembered for being a successful recuperation bid of an ailing format – the ODIs, in the age of T20Is – and how ten nations came together for a month and a half, to celebrate cricket.
It is, hence, only right that we celebrate those who led cricket’s celebrations. This is The Quint’s ICC World Cup 2023 Team of the Tournament:
Openers – Rohit Sharma & Quinton de Kock
If this indeed was Rohit Sharma’s last ODI World Cup – which, it seems to be – he will go down as among the greatest ODI players to not win this tournament.
The only batter to have scored over 500 runs in two consecutive editions of the World Cup, Rohit scored 597 runs for India, and that too, at a strike rate of 125.94 – the highest among those who scored over 400 runs.
Opening the innings with Rohit in our team will be South Africa’s Quinton de Kock – who most certainly has played his last ODI World Cup, having announced his retirement. He scored 594 runs, which includes four centuries.
Number 3 – Virat Kohli
765 – Let alone scoring, not many would have considered it plausible to accumulate these many runs in a single World Cup edition. But, when has Virat Kohli ever thought about what’s plausible and what’s not? His campaign had many highlights, but nothing more prominent than eclipsing Sachin Tendulkar’s record to become the first-ever cricketer to score 50 ODI centuries.
Number 4 – Travis Head
Yes, we know Travis Head opens the innings for Australia, but he has three ODI half-centuries at number four. So, bear with us, for it will be a grave injustice to leave him out of the team. Having missed the first few matches owing to an injury, Head scored 329 runs in only six matches, which included two centuries. Of course, one came in the final against India.
Number 5 – Daryl Mitchell
Amid the elegance of Kane Williamson, the flamboyance of Devon Conway and the amiability of Rachin Ravindra, it is not very difficult for the unassuming Daryl Mitchell to go under the radar. Yet, he shone the brightest for the Blackcaps, scoring 552 runs. Among his two centuries was a vigorous 134 against India in the semi-finals.
Wicketkeeper – KL Rahul
Known for being under scrutiny despite having often justified his selection, this campaign was a baptism-by-fire occasion for KL Rahul – not because there was a barrage of criticism, but because the team turned to him as an escape route whenever they were stuck in quicksand. Rahul did not let the team down, scoring 452 runs – 66 of which came in the final.
All-Rounders – Glenn Maxwell & Marco Jansen
It might seem inconsequential now, but on 7 November, Australia were not staring at the cup, but a possible elimination from the league stage itself. For, the team was reeling at 91/7 in a 292-run chase against a spirited Afghanistan team.
What followed was an inconceivable double century from Glenn Maxwell, effectively giving a sluggish Australia the momentum a team needs in a tournament like this. Overall, Maxwell scored 400 runs and picked up six wickets, one of them being that of Rohit Sharma in the final.
2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3 – Not random numbers, but wickets Marco Jansen took in the first seven matches of his maiden World Cup appearance. Still not impressive enough? Fine, throw 157 runs to add to his case, including an unbeaten 75 against England, and now you have a prodigious all-round talent, who has dared to take on some of the world’s best at 23.
Pacers – Pat Cummins (Captain) & Mohammed Shami
If we go back to that match against Afghanistan, we will find how Maxwell alone could not have taken Australia over the line, had it not been for Pat Cummins’ gritty 68-ball 12. And then in the final, India would not have been restricted to merely 240, had it not been for the timely wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Virat Kohli. Cummins will be leading our team.
Purely in terms of individual performances, across all disciplines – batters, bowlers and all-rounders – there has not been a more mesmerising performer than Mohammed Shami. Initially not a part of India’s playing XI plans, he went on to become India’s leading wicket-taker in the ODI World Cup with 55 wickets, and this edition’s leading wicket-taker with 24 wickets – seven of those coming against New Zealand in the semi-final.
Spinner – Adam Zampa
That, some feared Australia’s plan to have only one specialist spinner – Adam Zampa – in their squad, seems ever so trivial now. The reason being, Zampa has not only executed his role to perfection but has also alleviated pressure off his teammates. With 23 wickets, he finished as the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker.
Our Team of the Tournament
Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli, Travis Head, Daryl Mitchell, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Glenn Maxwell, Marco Jansen, Pat Cummins (captain), Mohammed Shami, Adam Zampa.