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Wisden’s one World Cup wonder XI

Who would get into Wisden's one World Cup wonder XI?
by Shashwat Kumar 4 minute read

There’s nothing like a World Cup for players to make a name for themselves.

Some players build on that success, but just as interesting are the ones who don’t. Those who light up a tournament, burn bright and brief, but are never seen on the global stage again. The ODI retirement of Ben Stokes, Player of the Match in the 2019 final, confirms he will play just the one World Cup, which leads to the question of who else has just a solitary campaign to their name.

Here is a team to celebrate those one-and-done stars, Wisden’s one World Cup wonder XI.

Stats in bold refer to World Cups only

Mark Greatbatch (New Zealand, 1992) (wk)

313 runs @ 44.71, SR: 87.92

Mark Greatbatch took the 1992 World Cup by storm, one of two opening gambits employed by Black Caps skipper Martin Crowe. Greatbatch would blaze away to fast starts at the top of the order, his effervescent brand of stroke-play a refreshing sight in the early 1990s. He played a major role as New Zealand reached the semi-final. In this side, the left-handed batter will also keep wicket.

Gautam Gambhir (India, 2011)

393 runs @ 43.66, SR: 85.06

For someone who played such a pivotal role in India’s second World Cup success, it is staggering that Gautam Gambhir featured at the global event only once. As he did often in his career, he stood up in the game that mattered. With India under pressure in the summit clash against Sri Lanka, he crafted a gritty 97-run knock, laying the foundation for MS Dhoni to apply the finishing touches. He ended the 2011 edition with four half-centuries, although his innings in the final was undoubtedly his best.

Jonathan Trott (England, 2011)

422 runs @ 60.28, SR: 80.84

Jonathan Trott wasn’t perceived as a limited-overs batter initially but crafted an impressive career as a No.3 anchor. To this day, his career average is up there with the very best, the sixth-highest of all time for those with at least 2,000 runs in the format, and in the 2011 World Cup, he outperformed even that. His five fifties in the competition is a joint record for England in a single World Cup.

Ben Stokes (England, 2019) (C)

465 runs @ 66.42, SR: 93.18; 7 wickets @ 35.14, ER: 4.83

Whenever England lurched into crisis at the 2019 World Cup, Ben Stokes was there to dig them out of it. His magnum opus arrived in the final when he almost single-handedly dragged them to the title, with vital contributions in the actual game and the Super Over that followed. He was influential throughout the competition, with two in-vain half-centuries against Sri Lanka and Australia and a crucial 70-odd to supercharge England’s total against India in a must-win clash. Stokes also picked up seven wickets.

Grant Elliott (New Zealand, 2015)

310 runs @ 44.28, SR: 105.44; 2 wickets @ 34, ER: 8.5

The lasting image from Grant Elliott’s and New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup campaign was of Elliott smashing Dale Steyn into the grandstand to seal a jaw-dropping final-over semi-final victory. During that edition, Elliott batted at a superb tempo and ensured that the Kiwis didn’t lose out on momentum during the middle overs. At No.5 in this side, he will be expected to do something similar.

Yashpal Sharma (India, 1983)

240 runs @ 34.28, SR: 64

Yashpal might not have scored a truckload of runs, but he always found a way to score when the chips were down. The opening act came in a group stage encounter against the West Indies. In the semi-final, he produced another half-century to help India ease past England. These two knocks, apart from winning India the game, also told the rest of the world that they could compete against the biggest sides. In July 2021, Yashpal tragically passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest.

James Faulkner (Australia, 2015)

44 runs @ 14.66, SR: 176; 10 wickets @ 19.7, ER: 4.7

James Faulkner didn’t feature in every game that Australia played in 2015. However, he was on hand to produce an excellent display in the final against New Zealand. He picked up thre wickets and bagged the Player of the Match award, helping Australia restrict the Kiwis to 183. His final ODI appearance came a couple of years later against India at Nagpur, and that MCG night would remain his final World Cup appearance.

Andy Bichel (Australia, 2003)

114 runs @ 114, SR: 83.57; 16 wickets @ 12.31, ER: 3.45

Andy Bichel wasn’t a marquee name in Australia’s all-conquering 2003 side, which featured several of the names that made them one of the most fearsome teams of all time. But Bichel was a crucial cog in the middle instalment of a trio of World Cup wins. His finest hour came against England. Figures of 7-20 kept England to 204-8, and then when Australia fell to 135-8, his unbeaten 34 saw his side home.

Geoff Allott (New Zealand, 1999)

20 wickets @ 16.25, ER: 3.7

Geoff Allott was sensational during the 1999 World Cup, ending the competition as the joint leading wicket-taker. He also had the second-best average for any bowler to have picked 10 wickets or more during that tournament, with the English conditions perfectly suited to his canny style. A left-arm pacer by trade and a handy batter, he will slot into this XI nicely and provide plenty of penetration.

Graeme Swann (England, 2011)

60 runs @ 15, SR: 117.64; 12 wickets @ 225.75, ER: 4.54

Considering the success Graeme Swann had across formats, it is intriguing that he only played a solitary World Cup. The off-spinner thrived in the spin-friendly conditions in the subcontinent, one of the few bright spots in a campaign that ended at the quarter-final stage.

Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka, 2011)

7 wickets @ 19.14, ER: 3.14

Ajantha Mendis bamboozled batters galore during the 2011 World Cup. At the time, there was still a mystery around him, making Sri Lanka’s decision to leave him out for the World Cup final a perplexing one, though somewhat explained by Virender Sehwag’s deconstruction of his armoury prior to the event. As is the case with many a mystery spinner, he was soon decoded, and slipped from the scene. He adds variety to this team and brings a bit of X-Factor to the plate too.

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