The 2019 Cricket World Cup, hosted by England, proved to be a blockbuster affair. The International Cricket Council (ICC) had changed the format of the tournament to a round-robin one, allowing the top 10 teams to compete against each other. This decision led to the World Cup becoming more competitive and balanced, where teams had to rely more on their gameplay than plain luck.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup brought together the best of world cricket under one roof with the likes of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root leading the headlines. However, apart from these world-class players, there were debutants who made quite some noise with their nerves of steel and the ability to win crunch games for their countries at the highest level. Here we take a look at the top five.
LOCKIE FERGUSON (New Zealand)
With a misfiring opening partnership and an inconsistent middle-order, New Zealand’s World Cup campaign seemed to be nosediving towards the business end of the tournament, but Lockie Ferguson’s exploits through the campaign ensured that the Kiwis made it through to the 2019 Cricket World Cup final. With 21 wickets to his name, he emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament and New Zealand’s leading one. Williamson used him as his main weapon in the middle phase of the innings where most teams struggle to pick up wickets, but Ferguson delivered for his captain every time. He had the highest dot ball percentage in the World Cup and constantly peppered the opposition batsmen with some venomous bouncers.
JOFRA ARCHER (England)
Jofra Archer was labelled as the X-factor for England coming into the 2019 Cricket World Cup and he lived up to all the expectations. He was outstanding in the big matches and seemed to thrive under the immense pressure created by a home World Cup for England. With 20 scalps, he ranked third on the highest wicket-taker list but the most impressive part of his stats was his economy of 4.57. He was a late addition to the England squad but bowled the most important over in their white-ball history. Defending 16 runs in the Super Over in the final, Archer kept his nerves and restricted the Kiwis to 15, to take England over the line on boundary count and lift the country’s first World Cup.
ALEX CAREY (Australia)
Alex Carey’s name is a surprising one on this list but his numbers in the World Cup tell us a different story. In nine innings, Carey managed to score 375 runs at a whopping average of 62.5 and a remarkable strike rate of 104.16. More often than not, Carey provided the much need impetus in the middle-order after Australia’s cautious start. His strike rate is a reflection of his impact where he, on most occasions, compensated for the low strike rates of David Warner and Steve Smith. Even though Australia didn’t make it to the final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Carey emerged as their number one positive from the tournament. The southpaw was also named in the ICC Team of the Tournament.
JAMES NEESHAM (New Zealand)
Another surprising entry to the list, James Neesham had a wonderful World Cup campaign with both bat and ball. The all-rounder along with Colin de Grandhomme provided New Zealand with a solid fifth bowling option. Their combined economy was 4.75, which was the best in the tournament. His bowling stats surprised all as he was thought to be the weakest link in the Kiwi bowling line-up prior to the tournament. However, with 15 wickets throughout the campaign at an outstanding average of 19.46, Neesham helped New Zealand reach their second consecutive World Cup final. Neesham was no slouch with the bat either. He scored 97* against Pakistan, although the latter went on to win that close encounter.
BEN STOKES (England)
Saving the best for the last, something that even Ben Stokes orchestrated in his debut campaign for England in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Ben Stokes had a golden summer of 2019 where he helped his nation clinch their first-ever 50 over World Cup trophy. Stokes was remarkable with the bat all through the campaign. He didn’t get a century to back this up but scored some crucial 80s for his team. With 465 runs in the World Cup, he ranked ninth on the highest run-getter list. Alongside this, due to some important not-outs, his average went up to 66.42. Also, none can forget his incredible innings in the final, where he took the weight of his nation on his shoulders and delivered the ultimate prize. He was also selected as the ‘Player of the Match’ in the final.
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