2011 Cricket World Cup Predictions Revisited

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Prior to the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Subash Jayaraman (founder of Clear Cricket), Matt Wood (Balanced Sports) and myself  (World Cricket Watch) attempted to predict exactly what would happen to varied success. You can see our original predictions below:

Part 1: Cricket World Cup Predictions: The Leading Wicket Taker

Part 2: Cricket World Cup Predictions: The Leading Run Scorer

Part 3: Cricket World Cup Predictions: The Surprise Package

Part 4: Cricket World Cup Predictions: The MVP

Part 5: Cricket World Cup Predictions: Dream Teams

Part 6: Cricket World Cup Predictions: “Ace in the Hole”

Part 7: Cricket World Cup Predictions: Winners

It’s time to revisit these predictions and wrap up the 2011 Cricket World Cup…

As you’ll see, the beauty about sport – cricket, in particular, as the game that God would play – is the very essence of its unpredictability. Sport constantly captivates by the thrill of the “unknown”.

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1. THE LEADING WICKET TAKER

Subash:

Logic applied in predicting the top run getter was applied to the top wicket taker: Deep run in the tournament and easier oppositions in the preliminary stages.  The fact that the tournament was held in the sub-continent also goaded me in to thinking that it would be a spinner that ends as the highest wicket taker. All that seemed to work out. Except it was the wrong spinner. I picked Muralitharan but eventually, it was Shahid Afridi. (Zaheer Khan tied him at the top with two wickets in the finals but in terms of average and strike rate, Afridi beats out Khan).

Matt:

Well, who’da thunk it?  After nearly fifteen years on the international map, Shahid Afridi has arrived as a spinner of quality.  I was surprised by both his ability to restrict runs (21 at a little under 13) and to tweak the ball – he’s shown little inclination to do either until the last two years.  As for Zaheer Khan, he’s Dale Steyn’s only challenger for “World’s Best Paceman” and thoroughly deserves this accolade.  Although aided by subcontinental pitches to which they’re both well accustomed, they are worthy winners.  Glad I picked Khan to be up there amongst the best, but slightly surprised Lasith Malinga didn’t carry on his form after taking a shedload of wickets against Kenya.

David:

Malinga was the obvious choice in this category for me. After missing the first couple of games a hat-trick and 6 for against Kenya set the tone for what was to come for Malinga. Whilst Afridi was the frontrunner for much of the tournament, it was Zaheer Khan who came up on the rails for a photo finish for the leading wicket taker. But Malinga must have sent a shiver down many Indian spines having removed both Sachin and Sehwag as they teetered on 31-2. Had Sri Lanka won he certainly would have got the headlines but the bowler of the tournament has to be Zaheer Khan (21 wickets at 18.76).  Afridi has superior stats (21 wickets at 12.85) but Khan delivered every time India were in trouble.

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LEADING RUNSCORER

Subash:

As was expected, a top order batsman would end up being the highest run getter of the tournament. It was also posited that one of the teams that makes a deep run in the tournament would eventually have the chance to end up as the top run man. I predicted that it will be Sachin Tendulkar but I was not too far off. He fell short by 18 runs (the number of runs he actually scored in the finals) from becoming the joint high scorer along with Tillekaratne Dilshan.

Matt:

The Sri Lankans were dominant here, with Dilshan and Sangakkara leading the way.  Pat on the back for all three of us for selecting one of the top-15 runscorers.  Looking through that list, congratulations go to the Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate who finished 13th after playing only six matches, with two centuries.  Only his mediocre supporting cast kept him off the All-Tournament Team.  In the future, look for him to make a healthy living following T20 competitions around the world – it appears he’s Andrew Symonds with a brain.

David:

Hashim Amla did not have a bad tournament by a “normal” batsman’s standards but his 306 runs (1 century and 2 fifties) at 43.71 is not a patch on his form from the turn of 2010 to the start of the World Cup where he scored 1300 runs at an average of 72 and recorded 6 centuries. Had South Africa progressed further he could have been up there with the likes of Sachin and Dilshan.

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THE SURPRISE PACKAGE

Subash:

This is where my prognostication skills fell flat on its face. I had seen enough of this lad, Ahmed Shehzad, during Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand and was influenced by how easily he handled the NZ bowlers. He performed so badly that he was dropped from the XI and was replaced by none other than Mr. Butterfinger, Kamran Akmal to open Pakistan’s batting. As far as bad predictions go, this is absolutely the worst, or best… depending on how you look at it.

Matt:

The award must surely go to New Zealand and their fairytale run to their World Cup Spiritual Home, the Semi-Finals.  No-one picked them to make it that far boasting a side looking more suited to District Seconds.  In a fit of jingoistic patriotism, I picked Australia’s four-pronged pace attack, exposed the instant the Skippies debarked in Chennai to discover low, slow turning pitches.  Slow pitches in India?  No!!  Fiends!  Gary Kirsten 3, Andrew Hilditch 0 (as usual).

David:

Brett Lee and Australia were chosen as the surprise package but they didn’t want to face a red-hot India so early in the quarter finals. Australia never seemed to gain momentum in the tournament and their performance in the group stages against Pakistan seemed to signal their fate. Ironically this was the game in which Brett Lee excelled most claiming 4 for 28. Lee was probably the brightest spark in the tournament for Australia with 13 wickets at an average of 18. The biggest surprise of the tournament was the incredible bowling from a previously reluctant Shahid Afridi.

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MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Subash:

Considering it was held in India and the final was to be held in Mumbai, which is the backyard of you-know-who, the romantic in me envisioned a scenario/script that even Hollywood would have been proud of. I thought this would have the ideal platform for Sachin Tendulkar to say sayonara to the 50-overs game with the trophies in his hand. But it ended up being Yuvraj. However, all the India players have repeated ad infinitum that they wanted to win this one “For Sachin”. So, Yuvraj won his MVP trophy “For Sachin” as well, which makes my pick a correct one. Correct?

Matt:

Yuvraj Singh?  That’s as much of a surprise as Shahid Afridi learning how to bowl, Brett Lee being regarded as “Australia’s accurate one” or Shane Watson playing without dyed hair.  Up until now, Yuvraj may have been the second- or third-most talented cricketer in the world from the neck down; now he has a World Cup winner’s medal and, consequently, an infinitely more interesting/varied sex life.  I selected Sangakkara – not a bad pick – and would have nearly died laughing had you told me Yuvraj was going to own this World Cup.

Dave:

MVP for the tournament was Yuvraj who claimed 15 wickets at 25 and scored 362 valuable runs at an average of 86. That makes him the 6th highest wicket taker and the 8th highest runscorer not to even mention his finishing skills epitomised in the magical 57 off 65 to ease past Australia in the quarter final. Few all rounders in world cricket would have been capable to have such a dramatic impact on the tournament with both bat and ball. I went for Amla. How wrong could I be yet again?

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2011 CRICKET WORLD CUP DREAM TEAM

Subash:

My pre-tournament 12 went like this: Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Watson, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara, Cameron White, Angelo Mathews, Yusuf Pathan, Shahid Afridi, Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan and Dale Steyn. Looking at the “World Cup XI” selected by Cricinfo, I seem to have picked at least 7 of the 12 right. Two of my picks – Pathan and White – hardly did anything of note, and Kallis’ world cup ended before he got in to stride and Mathews’ ended at the most inopportune time for Sri Lanka. All in all, a very respectable performance from me, wouldn’t you say?

Matt:

Like Dave, I selected six of the Dream Team correctly.  Like Subash, I was seduced into selecting Yusuf Pathan and Cameron White only to be repaid with tournaments which should preclude their national selection ever again.  They really were that bad.  In retrospect, it was also poor form to exclude Murali for Daniel Vettori.

Dave:

Pre tournament Dream Team…

1. Virender Sehwag, 2. Hashim Amla, 3. Kumar Sangakarra (w) (c), 4. Sachin Tendulkar, 5. Jacques Kallis, 6. Shane Watson, 7. Yusuf Pathan, 8. Zaheer Khan, 9. Dale Steyn, 10. Lasith Malinga, 11. Muttiah Muralitharan

Post Tournament Dream Team…

1. Dilshan, 2. Sachin, 3. Sangakkara, 4. Trott, 5. AB De Villiers, 6. Yuvraj Singh, 7. Shahid Afridi, 8. Zaheer Khan, 9. Dale Steyn, 10. Lasith Malinga, 11. Muttiah Muralitharan

The fact that there are only 6 out of the 11 predictions in my team of the tournament suggests some woeful predictions. Pathan looked like being the X factor prior to the tournament but hardly got a look in. That’s testament to the wealth of young exciting crop of players India has at their disposal. Jonathan Trott was Mr consistency yet again but with no batting partner at the other end, times are tough. The 3 additional names of Dilshan, Yuvraj and Afridi were just immense. Had De Villiers not been run out in the quarter final, then things could have been much different for South Africa. But their record of never winning a knock out game in the World Cup remains in tact.

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THE “ACE” IN THE HOLE

Subash:

This is one category that I absolutely nailed. It was a “straight out of left field” pick for me but turned out to be spot on. I had picked Yuvraj Singh, not because I think I’m a genius (only a little), but more out of hope for Team India. If India were to win, the lower middle order had to produce crucial runs as well as provide options in the bowling department. Yuvraj won 4 man-of-the-match awards, scoring excess of 300 runs and taking 13 wickets, most of them partnership breaking wickets and earned the “Man of the Tournament” award in the process.

Matt:

Didn’t really excel here as I chose Johan Botha, who was fair, but not outstanding for South Africa.  I was quite pleased that Tim Southee did well (18 wickets at 17.33) – his stock has moved from “Evolutionary Chris Martin” into “Evolutionary Danny Morrison”, the difference being Morrison was able to carry the attack by himself, while Martin’s famous more for his silky skills with the bat (yes, I’m being sarcastic).

David:

Ajantha Mendis couldn’t have been further from the Ace in the Hole in this tournament. That honour goes to Yuvraj Singh for his unlikely fireworks. But Mendis was one of the best bowlers in the tournament with 7 wickets at an average of 19.  He was by far and away the most economical bowler in the entire tournament going at 3.14 runs per over. India (who had “figured him out”) would have been as delighted as Mendis was devastated that Sri Lanka made widespread changes for the final and left him out.

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2011 CRICKET WORLD CUP WINNERS

Subash:

India was my pick. I even got the final match up right. I was expecting more from South Africa but they taught us all a lesson in wrapping one’s hands firmly around one’s throat. My picks for semifinals were India, Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa. It happened to be that Australia faced India and South Africa, the mighty cricketing nation of New Zealand. On paper, India had the best batting lineup of the top 5 nations and perhaps the weakest bowling and fielding side. However, they kicked it up so many notches in the knockout stages that, as an Indian fan, it was a sight to behold.

Matt:

Sri Lanka and India played off in the final, as was expected.  I had expected India to choke at some stage, crumbling like paneer under the expectations of a billion-plus people on their shoulders, and were too reliant on Zaheer Khan.  As he took 21-for the tournament, turns out that wasn’t a flawed plan, but a master-stroke.  Gary Kirsten 3, Tipsters 0.

David:

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-choke. The World Cup winner was going to be between the two chokers – India and South Africa – for me. I believed each side had the best teams on paper and I still believe that. But South Africa lived up to their label whilst India were by far and away the best team in the tournament. South Africa’s elimination to the hands of New Zealand was destined to be the most one sided quarter final but Jacob Oram had other ideas claiming 4 for 39 as a comfortable chase became misery yet again.


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