The World Cup - the most important records
With the World Cup just around the corner, it seems as good a time as any to take a look at some of the most interesting facts from the game’s biggest tournament. From the best-of's to the worst-of's, let's take a look at which players and teams feature in some of the World Cups most important records.
England has hosted the most World Cups in history
England, thanks largely to the initial incarnations of the event, has been a haven for the World Cup, with the upcoming event set to be the fifth time it has been held on British Soil. The first three editions of the tournament were held there (in 1975, 1979 and 1983) before it was again played there in 1999. The next most common location at which the World Cup has been held is India, where it was played in 1987, 1996 and 2011, though at least one other nation shared the spoils on each of those occasions.
Tendulkar - the greatest World Cup player of all time?
Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest players to grace a cricket field in both Test and 50-over cricket, but it is sometimes overlooked just how dominant a player he was at the World Cup. He has more runs than anyone else at the event, and by some margin. The Little Master’s 2,278 total runs is more than 500 than his nearest rival, Ricky Ponting, testament to his dominance at the event. He has the most centuries and the most half-centuries, leading the latter of those two in a canter - he has 21 half-centuries, with his nearest rival sitting on 12. He is also one of only two players - Javed Miandad the other - to have played in six tournaments.
England has never won the event
England’s relatively unsuccessful history at the World Cup is relatively well-known, but it may surprise many to know that they haven’t managed to win it even a solitary time out of 11 attempts - surprising considering their overall success as a cricketing nation. They did go extremely close a number of times early in the history of the event - in the first five World Cups, they made the final three times and a semi-final the other two, but on none of those occasions were they able to go on to win the event.
...While Australia has dominated it
Australia, England’s long time cricketing rival, has had relatively different fortunes to them at the World Cup. In contrast to England’s zero wins from 11 events, Australia has dominated the tournament, winning five of them. The first of these came in 1987, before they began an extraordinary run with a win in 1999. That was the first of three consecutive victories, and after that streak was broken they commenced a new one with a win in 2015, making it four triumphs in the last five events.
The elusive eight-wicket haul
At no stage in any of the previous three World Cups has a player managed to take eight wickets, though a seven-wicket haul has been achieved on four occasions. The first of these was West Indian Winston Davis, who managed 7/51 against Australia way back in 1983. He remained the only player to reach this accomplishment for close to three decades, before Australian teammates Glenn McGrath (7/15 against Namibia) and Andy Bichel (7/20 against England) each did it within a week of each other at the 2003 event. New Zealand’s Tim Southee rounds out the list of players to have reached the magic number seven, snaring 7/33 against England in front of a home crowd in 2015.
The double hundred
Just a few short years ago, the prospect of a player scoring a double hundred in a 50-over game was a relatively outrageous one. As each year passes, however, a number of new players add their names to the list, and there are now two players to have achieved the feat on the World Cup stage. The first of those was, unsurprisingly, Chris Gayle, who spanked the Zimbabweans all around the park on the way to 215 off 147. A month later at the same event, enigmatic New Zealand opener Martin Guptill bettered Gayle’s score, managing an unbeaten 237 off 163 which included 24 4’s and 11 6’s.
The biggest totals
Hand in hand with double hundreds are monstrous totals, something that has also been on the rise in a significant way seemingly every year this century. Remember when 300 was a noteworthy score? Now, Australia tops the list with 417/6, a number they achieved against Afghanistan in 2015. India aren’t far behind with a 5/413 effort against Bermuda in 2007, while South Africa twice passed the 400 mark in 2015 with scores of 4/411 against Ireland and 5/408 playing the West Indies.
...And the biggest victories
Invariably, many of these big totals came against cricketing minnows, and big wins obviously ensued. Australia’s highest ever total also ended up as the biggest ever victory at the event - they rolled Afghanistan for 143 for a 275 run victory. Likewise India and South Africa, who turned their 400+ run totals into 257 run victories, while Australia find themselves with a second spot in the top four courtesy of a 256 run win over Namibia back in 2003.
The Curious Case of Lance Klusener
South African all-rounder Lance Klusener has an impressive cricketing resume, but what stands out above the rest is his performance with the bat in World Cups. He only played in two (in 1999 and 2003), taking strike in 11 of his 14 matches, and courtesy of the fact that seemingly nobody could ever get him out, he ended up with some relatively extraordinary batting numbers. He was dismissed only three times out of 11 while scored 372 runs, giving him the pretty healthy average of 124.00 at World Cups. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also boasts the best strike rate in the history of the tournament - those 372 runs came at a rate of 121.17 per 100 balls.
Noteworthy strike rates
A list of the best strike rates in an innings at the World Cup features largely players who came in for brief cameos, like James Franklin’s 31* off eight deliveries and Andre Russell’s 42* off 13 - incredible innings, granted, but brief nonetheless. Brendon McCullum bucks the trend as the only player to boast a strike rate in excess of 300 in an innings of 50 or more runs, an achievement he accomplished in 2015 with a score of 77 off just 25 deliveries which included 8 4’s and 7 6’s. The very same man finds himself in second in terms of strike rates for innings of 50 or more courtesy of an unbeaten 52 off 21 against Canada in 2007, but it is the next innings on the list which perhaps warrants a mention the most.
AB de Villiers managed a strike rate of 245.45 against the West Indies in Sydney back in 2015, and it wasn’t exactly over a short period of time. He smacked the Windies around the park for an unbeaten 162 off just 66 balls, hitting 17 4’s and 8 6’s during his time in the middle.
Why not finish off on a sour note, like who has the most ducks at the event? The undesired title of duck specialist is in fact shared by two players - New Zealand’s Nathan Astle and Pakistan’s Ijaz Ahmed, both of whom finished their careers with five. Neither of them covered themselves in glory at the event - two talented batsmen, both finished their World Cup careers with averages in the low 20s at the tournament - but they need not feel too bad. There are plenty of other extremely talented players sitting just a solitary duck below them, with AB de Villiers, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Eoin Morgan all having departed without troubling the scorers four times.