So we're just about at the end of another World Cup. So as such, everyone's naming their representative teams of the World Cup. And seeing as I've got not much else better to do, I thought I'd have a go...
There have been some openers who have really set this World Cup alive. Sehwag and Tendulkar have really set the tone for India - Sehwag with a flurry of quick runs to take advantage of the powerplay early while Tendulkar hangs around to play the innings of substance. Sri Lanka have had Tharanga and Dilshan, who have now racked up two 200+ partnerships. Pakistan's Hafeez has batted well, and has the advantage of taking some handy wickets with much improved bowling. Martin Guptill's form with the bat for New Zealand's also been better than expected, and he could get into most World XI sides thanks to his fielding alone. And Ireland's Paul Stirling has shown maturity beyond his years with fine performances with bat and ball. All worth entrants, I'm sure, which has made the opening spots very hard to select. However, I've gone for Virender Sehwag, for his explosive play throughout the early powerplays, and because of his amazing 175 against Bangladesh, and for Tillekeratne Dilshan, for his couple of centuries, plus the fact that he offers a bit with the ball.
There are a couple of the middle-order who almost pick themselves. Yuvraj Singh has been India's finisher and has contributed immensely with the ball, so he's in. AB de Villiers hit two early hundreds, and looked South Africa's best bat, so in he comes. Ryan ten Doeschate, often a lone voice for Holland, also hit two centuries, and will provide ample support for the bowlers. So they're all in. And someone who I simply can't ignore is Sachin Tendulkar. While I didn't pick him in the position he's been playing this World Cup (opener), it would be unjust to not find space in this World Cup Team for him given the success he's had, so he will bat at three. So my middle order is Sachin Tendulkar, AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh and Ryan ten Doeschate.
This hasn't been a brilliant World Cup for the keepers. While Brendon McCullum and Brad Haddin had flashes of brilliance at the top of the order, they were few and far between. MS Dhoni hasn't contributed much to the Indian middle order. Morne van Wyk looked out of his depth in international cricket. Matt Prior looked even worse. Only one has stood out - and what a World Cup he's had. Step forward Kumar Sangakkara, who makes it into the team with a World Cup average of 104 (so far) with one ton and two fifties.
In the difficult sub continental conditions, we've seen some bowlers struggle. However, the truly good bowlers have found reward, and have had excellent World Cups. Umar Gul and Dale Steyn, the two best fast bowlers, have led their countries well. Zaheer Khan likewise. Before his injury, Stuart Broad was looking to be the star of an England bowling outfit that was seriously out of sorts, but sadly his injury cut short a World Cup where he could have made a real difference. Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee both blew teams away in the groups as well. But the two pacers I've gone for are Dale Steyn, for his superb five-fer against India as well as general good performances in a format that some didn't rate him in, and Umar Gul, who was as excellent with the old ball as he was with the new throughout the tournament (except the semi-final). Spin wise, it's been a rich World Cup. Shahid Afridi has been the leading wicket taker, and has proved his obvious ability with the ball. Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson have both chipped in with plenty for South Africa as well. Graeme Swann, (the world's best spinner) toiled away for some reward for England, and George Dockrell belied his age to put in some very mature performances for Ireland. Not forgetting, of course, Muttiah Muralitheran in his final World Cup. However, the spinners I've gone for are Shahid Afridi, as he has been taking wickets by the bucket load, as well as offering some late order hitting (even though that wasn't seen too often this World Cup). And South Africa's Robin Peterson, who surprised many to be a real potent threat for the Proteas. Imran Tahir can feel very unlucky that he didn't make the selection, but an unfortunate hand injury ruled him out of a few games where Peterson made his mark.
Of the guys I've picked, Afridi and Sangakkara both skippered their sides during the World Cup, so it's between them. As much as I've enjoyed Afridi's excitable energy-filled captaincy, I fear that his enthusiasm may only work for a Pakistan side, so that immediately rules him out. And it helps that Sangakkara has had an excellent World Cup as captain, rotating his bowlers well and setting inventive fields. So Kumar Sangakkara it is to lead the team.
So that's the team I've gone for. There are a few shocks (an associate player, no English, Aussies, West Indians or New Zealanders) but I'm happy with that team. I reckon they'd give anyone a game - they bat deep (with some useful players up the order), as well as having four top out-and-out bowlers plus handy overs from ten Doeschate, Yuvraj and Dilshan. Agree? Disagree? Let me know, either by the comments section, on Twitter, or on my new sparkly Facebook page.
Sangakkara (c / wk)