The men’s Cricket World Cup has, naturally, been graced by the presence of many cricketing superstars over the years. But there are some players who, despite making a name for themselves elsewhere, failed to feature in one.
We’ve compiled an XI of players who never featured in a World Cup but were (or are) still one of the better players going. For the following team, only players whose international careers spanned across two or more World Cups have been considered.
Wisden’s ‘Never played a World Cup’ XI
Alastair Cook (England)
ODIs: 92, Runs: 3204, Average: 36.40, HS: 137
England’s highest run-scorer in Tests, Alastair Cook wasn’t named in their squads for the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. He was then replaced as ODI captain by Eoin Morgan and dropped from the team altogether just before the 2015 World Cup – the Colombo ODI against Sri Lanka in 2014 was his last one-day game. He captained England in 69 ODIs but never once got the chance to play in a World Cup.
Justin Langer (Australia)
ODIs: 8, Runs: 160, Average: 32.00, HS: 36
Justin Langer’s ODI career never quite took off – he played eight of them in a three-year span between 1994 and 1997, scoring just 160 runs, which is why he wasn’t part of the Australian ODI sides that completed a three-peat of World Cup triumphs from 1999 to 2007. He was a constant in the Test side during that period, forming a formidable opening pair with Matthew Hayden, but Adam Gilchrist’s presence at the top of the order in white-ball cricket blocked Langer’s route into the 50-over side.
He's a coach now, but back in the day Justin Langer could certainly play too.
In 105 Tests, he racked up 7,696 runs at an average of 45.27, hitting 23 tons along the way.
And today he brings up a half-century – happy birthday! pic.twitter.com/u8uGpIuVYH
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) November 21, 2020
VVS Laxman (India)
ODIs: 86, Runs: 2338, Average: 30.76, HS: 131
Another behemoth of the Test arena who couldn’t leave a mark on ODI cricket. VVS Laxman lost out to Dinesh Mongia for a spot in India’s 2003 World Cup squad, with the latter considered a better fielder. He shook off the disappointment with a stellar 2004, his best year in ODIs, when he scored 837 runs in 25 games at 41.85 and hit four of his six ODI centuries.
Cheteshwar Pujara (India)
ODIs: 5, Runs: 51, Average: 10.20, HS: 27
Cheteshwar Pujara’s List A numbers are incredible – 4445 runs at 54.20 – but his record in the five ODIs he has played speaks of a player who struggled to adapt his naturally defensive game for the shorter formats, scoring at a strike-rate of 39.23. That three of those ODIs were against Bangladesh and two against Zimbabwe only made his case worse and he was never considered for a World Cup. In Tests, however, he remains one of the world’s best.
Azhar Ali (Pakistan)
ODIs: 53, Runs: 1845, Average: 36.90, HS: 102
The former Pakistan Test and ODI captain was part of the 2017 Champions Trophy-winning Pakistan side, with his top-order solidity allowing Fakhar Zaman to attack freely, but retired from ODIs the following year to focus on Test cricket. His Test journey since hasn’t quite gone according to plan too – he was recently replaced as captain by Babar Azam.
Azhar Ali seeing his family again after two months in England will make your day 😊 pic.twitter.com/TNYtUr0uSc
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 2, 2020
Parthiv Patel (India) – WK
ODIs: 38, Runs: 736, Average: 23.74, HS: 95
Parthiv Patel was a part of the India 2003 World Cup squad that reached the final, included as a second wicketkeeper alongside Rahul Dravid. But as it turned out, Dravid played every matches and Patel didn’t get a chance to feature. Given he was only 17 when that tournament began, you’d have got long odds on Patel not getting a go at some point. But luckily for us, and unfortunately for him, MS Dhoni’s emergence nailed down India’s wicketkeeping spot, so we have a full-time gloveman for this team.
Irfan Pathan (India)
ODIs: 120, Runs: 1544, Average: 23.39, HS: 83; Wickets: 173, Average: 29.72, BBI: 5-27
Irfan Pathan did make it to the India squad for the 2007 World Cup but didn’t get the opportunity to feature as previous edition’s finalists were knocked out in the first round. He wasn’t even part of the probables for the 2011 edition of the tournament. But Pathan did win the T20 World Cup for India – he was named Player of the Match in the 2007 final against Pakistan.
Matthew Hoggard (England)
ODIs: 26, Wickets: 32, Average: 36.00, BBI: 5-49
Matthew Hoggard sits just inside the top ten Test wicket-takers for England, and given how hopeless they were in ODI cricket in the years when Hoggard was active, you’d think he would have been given a go at some point. However, though he made the cut for the 2003 World Cup, Steve Harmison and Andrew Caddick were given preference. He continued playing Test cricket until 2008, but his last ODI came in 2006.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 28, 2020
Ishant Sharma (India)
ODIs: 80, Wickets: 115, Average: 30.98, BBI: 4-34
Despite starting his career in 2008, Ishant Sharma is yet to feature in a World Cup for India. He wasn’t selected for the 2011 edition of the tournament and a knee injury forced him to pull out of the 2015 World Cup, where he was replaced by Mohit Sharma. Ishant played his last ODI in 2016 but continues to enjoy a permanent spot in the Test side when fit.
Chris Martin (New Zealand)
ODIs: 20, Wickets: 18, Average: 44.66, BBI: 3-62
A 13-year long Test career saw Chris Martin take 233 wickets to finish as, at the time, the third-highest wicket-taker of all time for the Blackcaps. But in ODIs he wasn’t as effective, with his heroically awful batting costing him, and he played only 20 one-dayers between 2001 and 2008. He was named as Darryl Tuffey’s replacement for the 2007 World Cup but didn’t play a match.
Stuart MacGill (Australia)
ODIs: 3, Wickets: 6, Average: 17.50, BBI: 4-19
Stuart MacGill was unlucky to have his career overlap with that of Shane Warne’s but even then he managed to pick up over 200 Test wickets. ODIs were a completely different story, however. He played just three of them, all in a tri-series involving India and Pakistan in 2000, and even Warne’s exclusion for the 2003 tournament didn’t leave a spot open for him.