Woeful West Indies and sorry South Africa - Cricket World Cup report card

By Sports Desk July 07, 2019

The Cricket World Cup semi-final spots have been decided, with India, Australia, England and New Zealand into the final four.

But what of the half a dozen teams not to make it through?

Some arguably performed better than expected, while some – we're looking at you, West Indies and South Africa – were hugely disappointing.

For fans of those two sides, our World Cup report card may not make for pretty reading…

 

PAKISTAN (5th, W5 L3 N/R1)
RATING: C+

Ahead of the tournament, all the talk focused on their inconsistency and Sarfraz Ahmed's side lived up to their billing, summed up by their opening thrashing by the West Indies followed by a superb victory over favourites England. They were outclassed by Australia and India but finished strongly, winning four straight matches and only missed out on the semis due to their inferior net run rate, irreparably damaged by that Windies hammering. Mohammad Amir was excellent with the ball, picking up 17 wickets, while Babar Azam showed his class with the bat and Haris Sohail's form made a mockery of Pakistan's earlier faith in spent force Shoaib Malik.

SRI LANKA (6th, W3 L4 N/R2)
RATING: C

The Lions looked massively under-strength coming in, but they could argue that successive washouts against Pakistan and Bangladesh cost them a fairer shot at a top-four finish. The undoubted highlight was their stunning win over England, where veteran seamer Lasith Malinga rolled back the years. At the other end of the scale, 21-year-old Avishka Fernando hinted at a bright future with a marvellous hundred against the Windies in a dead rubber.

SOUTH AFRICA (7th, W3 L5 N/R1)
RATING: E

Even for a country with a long history of Cricket World Cup calamity, South Africa will look back on this campaign as a particularly miserable one. From AB de Villiers' attempted retirement U-turn just before the squad was announced to losing premier quick Dale Steyn to injury, the Proteas were in disarray before game one. A solitary point from their first four matches left them with too much to do as the likes of Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis failed to fill the void left by De Villiers in the top order.

BANGLADESH (8th, W3 L5 N/R1)
RATING: B+

A superb campaign – belied by their final position in the table – spearheaded by the remarkable performances of all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who racked up 606 runs and took 11 wickets with his wily left-arm spin – the first player to score 500+ runs and claim 10+ dismissals at a World Cup. There were impressive wins against South Africa and West Indies while they ran New Zealand and India mighty close. On this evidence, the Tigers will be genuine contenders in India in 2023.

WEST INDIES (9th, W2 L6 N/R1)
RATING: F

Not bottom of the table, but certainly bottom of the class. A squad filled with giants capable of smashing 100-metre sixes and bowling 90+ mph, the Windies let themselves down badly at this tournament. An opening annihilation of Pakistan promised much, but – scintillating centuries from Carlos Brathwaite and Nicholas Pooran aside – they failed to show the required application. Andre Russell's fitness issues caught up with him midway through the tournament, while 39-year-old Chris Gayle's intention to reverse his retirement looked a mistake. It is time to blood some fresh talent.

AFGHANISTAN (10th, W0 L9)
RATING: D

They may have finished as the only side without a point, but it is not all doom and gloom for Afghanistan. The tournament's lowest-ranked team improved as the campaign progressed, giving India and Pakistan almighty scares in agonisingly narrow defeats. A change of captaincy shortly before the finals, as well as knee-injury victim Mohammad Shahzad arguing against the decision to send him home and Aftab Alam's banishment for a disciplinary violation, will certainly have proved unwelcome distractions. The next World Cup in sub-continental conditions will surely suit a side with four years' more experience.

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    Japan's scrum coach Shin Hasegawa was handed his international breakthough by Hirao during his playing days.

    "I'm a bit emotional talking about Hirao," he added. "He was the one who picked me for the national team, he was the one who played me. We have a game on a special day. I hope we can pay him back.

    "The best memory is receiving a letter in my room a day before our opening match in the 2003 World Cup. It wasn't that long but had things that encouraged me and made me feel, 'I need to fight for this man'. 

    "I remember heading into the game with a good motivation. I asked him one time why I was chosen and he said, 'For the scrum, of course', so I really focused on it. He really kept his eyes on me and was a great coach."

    Japan stunned the Springboks with a 34-32 victory at the 2015 World Cup and hooker Atsushi Sakate explained they are leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of a repeat – combining brain and brawn.

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    "It is part of the training focusing on how to use your brain under pressure and in tough situations.

    "It was started at our training camp in Abashiri. You have to make decisions during the toughest time during the match. You use your brain.

    "That is why it was put up when we had tough weightlifting training."

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