The 2015 World Cup has now been and gone, with only the memories of the great players and performances remaining.
The ICC selected its team of the tournament the day after the final, and the best XI featured few surprises. The two finalists – Australia and New Zealand – were well represented, with some of the game’s biggest stars rounding out the rest of the side.
Here is the official team of the tournament as selected by the ICC.
Brendon McCullum (c)
The obvious choice to open the innings and to captain the team, McCullum plundered his runs quickly and in entertaining fashion at this tournament.
A top score of just 77 and an average of 36.44 doesn’t really do McCullum justice as his role was a selfless one – swing as hard as humanly possible from the first ball to get the Black Caps off to the best possible start.
Most of the time, it worked – just ask England, Sri Lanka and South Africa – but unfortunately for him, his duck in the final may be end up the lasting memory from this World Cup.
The tournament’s leading run scorer, Guptill hit a purple patch of form that resulted in the highest World Cup score of all time – a thrilling 237 not out against the West Indies in the quarter-final.
Guptill finished the tournament with 547 runs at 68.37 (the fourth-highest run tally for a single World Cup), and despite missing out in the semi-final and final, was a big part of New Zealand’s push to the precipice of World Cup glory.
His form in recent years has been up and down, but New Zealand’s decision to persist with Guptill paid off in a big way at this World Cup.
Kumar Sangakarra (wk)
With an incredible tournament average of 108.20 and a record-breaking run of four consecutive hundreds, retiring legend Sangakkara’s selection was an easy one.
His hundreds against Bangladesh, England, Australia and Scotland were among the highlights of the tournament, and his retirement leaves a gaping hole in the game.
Sangakkara also moved to 54 World Cup dismissals during the tournament, the most of any keeper in the tournament’s history making him the only choice to don the gloves in this team.
Australian cricket’s newest superstar continued his summer of domination at this World Cup, hitting 402 runs at 67 to top the world champion’s run-scoring list.
It came as a surprise when he failed in the opening two matches against England and New Zealand, but from then on Smith didn’t score less than 50 in an innings.
His hundred in the semi-final was crucial, and it was fitting that after the summer he had, it was Smith that hit the winning runs in the final with a typically inventive pull shot to the fence.
AB de Villiers
An incredible cricketer, perhaps the best in the world, de Villiers showcases all of his talents at this World Cup, finishing with 482 runs at 96.40.
His hundred against the West Indies at the SCG was the highlight of de Villiers’ World Cup, but if not for some misfortune at the death against New Zealand perhaps his semi-final 65 not out would have been the enduring memory.
His medium-pacers even managed to pick up a handful of wickets, and his fielding was electric as ever. De Villiers was one of the real stars of the 2015 World Cup.
His position in the team was in some doubt before the start of the World Cup, but by the end nobody was doubting Maxwell’s talent.
The furthest thing from conventional, Maxwell bats with a reckless abandon that makes him prone to embarrasing dismissal and exhilarating success in equal measure, as his 102 off 53 balls against Sri Lanka and 88 off 39 balls against Afghanistan proved.
Maxwell did a job as Australia’s preferred spin option also, dismissing the dangerous Guptill cheaply in the final, but it was those incredible middle-order performances that defined his World Cup.
A massive hitter who also proved his worth with the ball during this World Cup, Anderson hit 231 runs and took 14 wickets to end the tournament the pick of the genuine all-rounders.
His value to the Black Caps was never better showcased than in the semi-final against South Africa, when he took 3 for 72 and smacked a quick-fire 58 to play a major role in New Zealand’s historic win.
His duck in the final was one of the match’s turning points, but Anderson’s contribution to his team and this World Cup cannot be ignored.
The speculation regarding his ODI future persists, but the reserved Vettori preferred to let his cricket do the talking during this World Cup.
His miserly finger spin produced 15 wickets at 20.46, and it was Vettori that so often turned an innings in New Zealand’s favour as batsmen struggled to score against the wily veteran.
Vettori offered handy runs as well, never more so than in the thrilling conclusion to the semi-final against South Africa, and his catch against the West Indies was one of the tournament’s iconic moments.
The player of the tournament and the joint-leading wicket-taker, Starc catapulted himself into international cricket’s top echelon with a wonderful World Cup.
With pace, swing and bounce both at the start and end of the innings, Starc was never comfortable to face and took at least two wickets in every match.
Starc’s searing yorker that did for McCullum in the opening over of the final went a long way towards winning the World Cup for Australia, and he was a deserving winner of man of the tournament.
The other joint-leading wicket-taker, Boult’s ability to swing the ball sideways made him a constant threat as he led his team to the World Cup final for the first time.
His five-wicket haul against Australia in Auckland as the eventual champion lost its only match of the tournament was a dazzling bowling performance, the pick of a consistent World Cup for Boult.
The result of the final was probably the only thing that saw Starc favoured over Boult for man of the tournament, as he would have been an equally deserving winner.
Seventeen wickets at 17.58 reads pretty well for Morkel, who overshadowed team-mate Dale Steyn as South Africa charged ever so close to a World Cup final.
His pace and bounce has always translated well to Australian pitches and so it proved, with Morkel probably the pick of the right-arm quicks in a tournament dominated by lefties.
It was a tough tournament for the bowlers, but Morkel was one of the few bowlers that managed to break through with a series of top-class performances.
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