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Friday, February 23, 2007

Final fling

While the World Cup will be a collective goal for many cricket teams, various players might feel that this is the platform for them to go out on an individual high.

The 2007 World Cup will see many players attempting to win the trophy for their country for their last time. The curtains will come down on several of these players soon after the tournament, so it is the right time for them to show their extraordinary capabilities in one last hoorah.

Australia have many players who are on the wrong side of the 30s. Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Andrew Symonds don't look like they will be playing in the next World Cup. This might be the motivation that these players need to make it three-in-a-row, injuries notwithstanding. All of them played in the 2003 edition and have tasted World Cup success. So they know how it can be done - but will the bodies synchronise with the mind? No one knows.

England have Michael Vaughan, who seems to be doubtful even for this edition, never mind four years hence. Paul Nixon is already past retirement age at 36 - he'll be thanking his lucky stars that he made this year's squad. The rest of the side seems to have a young look to it. The doubt here is how many team members will actually perform consistently - Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen are the ones who come to mind.

India will probably say goodbye to Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble - four great performers. The selectors have managed to introduce new, younger team members even while retaining the cream. The entire cricketing fraternity will feel the loss of these superstars, who have been around for something like 12 to 15 years now.

New Zealand also have players who, though they are not old, will not be able to see the next edition mainly due to injury worries. Shane Bond is the best candidate for this, while Craig McMillan is definitely retiring after the World Cup. Other than these two, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Scott Styris don't look like being around in 2011. Once again, time will tell.

Pakistan have a poser - will the entire team be around even in the next year? Difficult to tell. Players like Inzamam-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Yousuf will be feeling it's perhaps time to hang up their pads.

South Africa have Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher and Peterson as the senior citizens most likely to be retiring after the World Cup. These players have done wonderful service to their team and this would be the ideal platform for them to bow out.

Sri Lanka have Sanath Jayasuriya, Russell Arnold, Marvan Atapattu, Murali Muralitharan in the same category, though one can argue about Murali's continuity.

West Indies skipper Brian Lara, arguably the best one-day player of all time, has already announced that he doesn't want to continue playing in ODIs after the World Cup. Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan might be also thinking on the same lines.

Just think of the exciting World Cup XI you could select from those likely to be gracing the tournament for the last time. Here are just a few of the names: Ponting, Gilchrist, Hayden, McGrath, Symonds, Vaughan, Nixon, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble, Bond, McMillan, Fleming, Vettori, Styris, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Afridi, Razzaq, Akhtar, Yousuf, Kallis, Gibbs, Pollock, Boucher, Peterson, Jayasuriya, Arnold, Atapattu, Muralitharan, Lara, Chanderpaul and Sarwan. What a list!

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