21 March 2011
The Knock-out Kings
Here is a look at the player and team performances in the knock out stages
The ICC Cricket World Cup now has a definitive visual history thanks to a new series of 12 television programmes.
It is the ultimate pressure situation - win and your team progresses, lose and you go home. The three major ICC competitions have seen their fair share of drama and there is something very special about a winner-takes-all situation.
Those who saw it will never forget the first ICC Cricket World Cup final played on midsummer's day in 1975 when Roy Fredericks hooked Dennis Lillee for six before stepping on his stumps to be out hit-wicket. The Viv Richards / Collis King partnership of four years later has also entered folklore as has India's 1983 triumph over the favoured West Indies.
Both the 1992 and 1999 semi-finals featuring South Africa are also memorable - both for the wrong reasons for Protea fans - and the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 featured its own heart-stopping conclusion when Misbah-ul-Haq just failed to bring Pakistan glory. All these go to show that the knock-out format undeniably brings out the best in certain players.
Since ICC Cricket World Cup 1975 there have been a total of 71 knock-out matches played over the three competitions and it will come as no surprise to discover that Australia have played more than any other team - 24 of them in total, winning 15, losing 8 and tying that famous 1999 semi-final with South Africa at Edgbaston when they progressed to the final by virtue of finishing higher up the Super 6 table earlier in the competition.
So - how have the international teams performed when their futures are on the line? Here is a table showing all the countries who have participated in knock-out matches across the three ICC global tournaments, ranked in order of percentage of those matches they have won. Note that the tied match is counted as half a win and the two no results are discounted from India and Sri Lanka's totals of matches played. Those were the final (and replayed final) of ICC Champions Trophy 2002 at Colombo when both matches were abandoned when only one innings had been completed and the trophy was shared.
The three leading names will come as no surprise. Recent powerhouses in limited overs cricket India and Australia top the pile with India just shading it. Of course, their early exits in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and ICC World Twenty20 2010 would have done their position in this table no harm as they were eliminated before they had the opportunity to play any knock-out matches. Australia's unbeaten streak in ICC Cricket World Cup matches currently stands at 28 matches in which their closest shave was that 1999 semi-final at Birmingham.
The West Indies sailed through the first two ICC Cricket World Cups and enjoyed a brief resurgence in form to win ICC Champions Trophy 2004 in England when they came back from the dead in the final with England at The Oval thanks to Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw's match-winning unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 71.
At the wrong end of the table it is again no surprise to see South Africa and New Zealand. The Proteas are still yet to reach a World Cup final, falling just short in 1992 due to a rain ruling and 1999 due to some erratic running between the wickets. However, they did win the inaugural running of the ICC Champions Trophy back in 1998 at Dhaka thanks to five wickets from Jacques Kallis. New Zealand won that trophy the next time out defeating India at Nairobi with Chris Cairns the star of the show, but apart from that it has been a tale of "always the bridesmaid never the bride" as the Kiwis have frequently fallen at the semi-final stage of world competitions.
England will be hoping that its triumph in ICC World Twenty20 2010 in the Caribbean will be the springboard for more success and that they will be able to move their way up the table in the coming years.
In the same way that Australia have played the most knock-out matches, Ricky Ponting has played more of these matches than any other player - 17 of them. And he has scored more runs in these elimination environments than anyone else - 627 at an average of 41.80. His undefeated innings of 140 in the final of ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 in the intense atmosphere of the Wanderers in Johannesburg is the undoubted highlight of his one-day career.
Next on the list - and the only other two players to have scored more than 500 runs in elimination matches are the Indian duo of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar. Surprisingly it is the left-handed Ganguly who has performed better in these matches with his 580 runs at 82.85 comparing very favourably with the little master's 526 at 47.81. Ganguly's forte was the ICC Champions Trophy in which he scored three knock-out centuries - a number equalled by only Pakistan's Saeed Anwar who only played 5 knock-out matches in his career. Ponting and fellow Aussie Shane Watson are the only other players to have scored as many as 2 knock-out centuries. Venkatesh Prasad of India only ever faced one delivery in such a match - against Australia in ICC Champions Trophy 2000 in Nairobi - but he hit it for six to have a batting strike rate of 600!
Here are the top ten run-scorers in knock-out matches in the three global ICC competitions:
|RT Ponting (Aus)||17||17||2||627||140*||41.80|
|SC Ganguly (India)||11||9||2||580||141*||82.85|
|SR Tendulkar (India)||13||12||1||526||141||47.81|
|JH Kallis (SA)||10||10||2||492||113*||61.50|
|AC Gilchrist (Aus)||13||13||0||456||149||35.07|
|S Chanderpaul (WI)||10||10||1||435||80||48.33|
|ST Jayasuriya (SL)||16||16||0||394||82||24.62|
|Saeed Anwar (Pak)||5||5||2||385||113*||128.33|
|KC Sangakkara (SL)||11||11||2||340||64*||37.77|
|Yuvraj Singh (India)||11||8||0||329||84||41.12|
It is another Aussie leading the way with the ball. Glenn McGrath was an integral part of three World Cup-winning Australian teams and he always seemed to perform well when the pressure was on, totalling 22 wickets at 22.13 apiece in his 14 matches. He is three ahead of Muttiah Muralitharan who took 19 wickets in his 15 matches including one in the final of ICC Cricket World Cup 1996 at Lahore when the Sri Lankans memorably upset the Australians. Another Australian in the form of Brett Lee is in third place with a total of 16 wickets. Here is how the top bowlers shape up:
|GD McGrath (Aus)||14||120.4||487||22||22.13||4.03||32.91|
|M Muralitharan (SL)||15||104.5||403||19||21.21||3.84||33.11|
|B Lee (Aus)||10||79.1||405||16||25.31||5.11||29.69|
|ST Jayasuriya (SL)||16||82.5||385||15||25.66||4.64||33.13|
|SR Tendulkar (India)||13||89.1||404||15||26.93||4.53||35.67|
|SK Warne (Aus)||6||58.0||233||15||15.53||4.01||23.20|
|JH Kallis (SA)||10||69.3||353||14||25.21||5.07||29.79|
|Z Khan (India)||9||76.2||364||14||26.00||4.76||32.71|
|Wasim Akram (Pak)||8||75.4||371||14||26.50||4.90||32.43|
|Four bowlers with||12|
Perhaps the most remarkable bowling record belongs to the Australian left-arm seamer Gary Gilmour. He excelled in English conditions in ICC Cricket World Cup 1975 taking 6-14 against England in the semi-final at Headingley - still the highest-rated bowling performance in ODI history according to the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings. Not content with that, he then took a further five wickets in his twelve overs in the final against the West Indies at Lord's three days later giving him a total of 11 wickets at an average of 5.63 in his two knock-out matches.
So - if those are the players who have excelled under pressure, how about those who have found the going somewhat tougher when fighting for their lives? From the table below which features players who have had at least five innings in such pressure matches, it seems that all-rounders have found it particularly difficult, with Messrs Pollock, McCullum, Botham and Jayasuriya all disappointing with the bat when their countries have needed them most:
|SM Pollock (SA)||7||6||1||36||20||7.80|
|BB McCullum (NZ)||5||5||0||44||26||8.80|
|IT Botham (Eng)||5||5||0||52||21||10.40|
|MV Boucher (SA)||10||8||1||95||60||13.57|
|NJ Astle (NZ)||8||8||0||109||49||13.62|
|MS Atapattu (SL)||8||8||0||133||51||16.62|
|M Azharuddin (India)||5||5||0||92||64||18.40|
|RS Kaluwitharana (SL)||7||7||1||114||48||19.00|
|Saleem Malik (Pak)||5||5||1||79||38||19.75|
|ST Jayasuriya (SL)||16||16||0||394||82||24.62|
Perhaps the worst batting effort belongs to England's Chris Old who was dismissed for ducks in all three of his innings covering the semi-finals and final of ICC Cricket World Cups 1975 and 1979, facing only seven deliveries in all.
There are some surprising names on the list of disappointing bowlers too. Chris Harris was a mainstay of New Zealand's one-day bowling attack for many years, but he struggled to perform when the pressure was on. Geoff Allott was the joint-leading wicket-taker of ICC Cricket World Cup 1999 but his semi-final performance on that occasion against Pakistan at Manchester was perhaps indicative of the Kiwi's inability to progress beyond the last four of a major competition.
|ME Waugh (Aus)||7||32.0||158||1||158.00||4.93||192.00|
|CZ Harris (NZ)||8||64.3||322||3||107.33||4.99||129.00|
|PAJ DeFreitas (Eng)||5||34.4||179||2||89.50||5.16||104.00|
|AB Agarkar (India)||8||56.4||323||7||46.14||5.70||48.50|
|D Gough (Eng)||5||46.0||223||5||44.60||4.84||55.20|
|J Srinath (India)||7||57.0||340||8||42.50||5.96||42.70|
|SR Waugh (Aus)||9||39.0||209||5||41.80||5.35||46.80|
|SR Watson (Aus)||9||49.3||289||7||41.28||5.83||42.40|
|GI Allott (NZ)||6||54.0||288||7||41.14||5.33||46.20|
|Shahid Afridi (Pak)||10||44.0||240||6||40.00||5.45||44.00|
It is fair to say that the big names often come up trumps in the biggest games, and players like Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly, Glenn McGrath and Murali are examples of that. But for each of them there are a host of players who maybe suffer big match nerves and are unable to produce a performance worthy of their previous efforts.
As we enter the knock-out stages of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, it is still impossible to predict who will lift the trophy on 2 April in Mumbai.
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