Now that the World Cup is over it is time to take stock of the good, the bad and ugly aspects of the 12th edition of the competition. Thankfully there were hardly any ugly aspects and on the contrary Kane Williamson saw to it that the noble traditions of the sport were upheld. As a leader of men he is unequaled in his philosophical attitude, calm demeanor and his willingness to accept a situation in which any other captain would have ranted and raved. This man was the apotheosis of grace and dignity.
The New Zealand captain’s approach then would head the list of good things to be associated with the World Cup but on the field there was much to savour. Several brilliant batting and bowling performances, fielding and catching efforts that took one’s breath away and the many games that went down to the wire. As a tactician too Williamson excelled and his captaincy was certainly one reason why New Zealand virtually finished joint champions. The chorus of sharing the trophy is growing every day and while that may not happen it illustrates that while England might have won the trophy, New Zealand won the hearts.
Yes, there were a few one sided games but by and large the decision to restrict the number of teams to ten saw to it that these were few and far between. And while it may have been nice to have Ireland, Scotland or Zimbabwe among the participants it must be said that the cricket played was of a very high order.
Before the tournament commenced there was talk of the first total of 500 being registered. On the contrary even 400 was not put up with the highest being 397 for six. While there were four totals in excess of 350, four times sides were bowled out for less than 160. The bowlers in fact held their own and while there were 30 hundreds and seven batsmen who scored over 500 runs, there were ten five wicket hauls and four bowlers with 20 wickets or more. The highest individual score was 166 whereas four years ago there were three higher scores including two double hundreds.
The fluctuating fortunes of the teams were another highlight. The points table changed almost every other day and till late in the league stage seven teams had either a realistic or theoretical chance of making the semifinals. Among the teams the biggest disappointment was South Africa who were never in the hunt for a place in the last four. West Indies too did not live up to their reputation as dark horses but Bangladesh despite finishing eighth in the final table provided further glimpses of their improvement.
Yes there was frustration over the weather which caused four matches to be abandoned and there was criticism about the umpiring standards. And the controversy over the final will not go away quickly which is a pity for in many ways it was arguably the finest ODI of all. But the good far outweighed the bad and the 2019 World Cup will take its place as among the best in the competition’s history.