The ODI World Cup is an important milestone in a cricketer’s career. Every player aspires to win the World Cup for his/her nation. However, since the sport is a team event, this dream might sometimes not materialize. This is notwithstanding the individual brilliance that the player exudes. So far, we have witnessed twelve World Cup tournaments, and in this article, we talk about the all-time best XI of players who never won a World Cup.
Openers: Graeme Smith and Sourav Ganguly (C)
Although he was more influential in the five-day format, Graeme Smith was not far behind in ODI’s. While he successfully took over the captaincy after his nation’s dismal show in the 2003 World Cup, the southpaw also ensured that the Proteas did not have to worry about the opening slot. In just 197 games, Smith scored 6989 runs at a strike rate of 80 and was one of the legends for his country.
While the former Indian skipper played three World Cups between 1999 and 2007, he missed the successful 2011 edition. Ganguly led India to the final in 2003 and had also scored three centuries during that campaign. Having scored more than 10000 ODI runs, it’s unfortunate that Dada is part of this list of players who never won a World Cup.
Middle-Order: Rahul Dravid, Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Mohammed Azharuddin, and AB de Villiers
Rahul Dravid is also part of the generation of Indian players who never won a World Cup. Only Sachin Tendulkar raised the trophy from this batch. A player who redefined the art of pacing an ODI inning, Dravid scored over 10000 ODI runs despite being branded as a Test batsman. He played for India in four World Cups and was the captain of the side when the team was infamously knocked out after the group stages in the 2007 World Cup in West Indies.
The second-highest ODI run-scorer at the moment, even the four consecutive tons in the 2015 World Cup did not help Sanga achieve his dream of winning the World Cup. He was the losing captain in the final of the 2011 World Cup and was also part of the XI that lost to Australia in the finals of the 2007 edition.
The captain of the country in the 1992, 1996 and 1999 World Cup campaigns, Mohammed Azharuddin was a great player at his peak. In a career that lasted 15 years, Azhar delivered many match-winning performances. He scored 9378 runs in 334 games, and if not for his fixing controversy, the Hyderabadi player could have achieved more for the country.
A career strike rate of 101, an average of 53, and a world record of a century of 31 balls, and yet, AB de Villiers could not lift the trophy. The loss in the 2015 World Cup semi-final was demoralizing for the player. That said, very few players offer the entertainment value that he does with his shots, and hence, ABD will always remain a legend.
All-Rounders: Jacques Kallis and Shahid Afridi
One of the very few all-rounders to have scored 10,000 runs and taken 250 wickets in ODI’s, Kallis is yet another star-performer who could not win a World Cup. He was part of the golden generation of South Africa, that, unfortunately, did not win a World Cup trophy.
With 395 ODI wickets, Shahid Afridi is only second to Muttiah Muralitharan in the list of highest wicket-taking spinners in the ODI format. This is on top of the 8064 runs he scored with the bat. Afridi came closest to the World Cup in 1999 when his team lost to Australia in the final. The then young all-rounder batted at No.7 and scored 13 runs.
Bowlers: Daniel Vettori, Shaun Pollock and Waqar Younis
The skipper of New Zealand in the 2011 edition, Vettori somehow goes under the radar when it comes to top-performers in ODI’s. The left-arm spinner has 305 wickets in his account apart from scoring more than 2000 runs in the tail-end.
A prolific wicket-taker, Pollock is the fourth-highest wicket-taking pacer, with 393 wickets in 303 games. Like his fellow countrymen, even Pollock could not win an ICC World Cup. He was the captain of his side that did not qualify for the Super Sixes in 2003. That edition of the tournament was held in South Africa and following the disappointment, the player lost his captaincy.
Nicknamed ‘The Burewala Express’, no player has more five-wicket hauls (13) than Waqar Younis in ODI format. However, when Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, the pacer was nursing an injury and could not make the cut. Although he helped his nation reach the finals in 1999, Australia came as the hurdle for the reverse swing expert.