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Taking a bow: Veterans at the World Cup

A World Cup is normally expected to throw up a couple of rare talents. A few who will keep the game going around the world by their exploits on the field and their larger-than-life image.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2003 11:37 IST

A World Cup is normally expected to throw up a couple of rare talents. A few who will keep the game going around the world by their exploits on the field and their larger-than-life image, till the next edition of the Cup.

Around such images myths grow and the game actually clings on to such figures to attract money and more people to the sport.

Who will this Cricket World cup throw up? Hardly any going by present reckoning. Unless Deon Kotze (heard of him? He is captain of a participating team) turns out to be the great cricketing figure who will replace one of the present greats. Or unless Sanjayan Thuraisingam a person of Sri Lankan origin who plays for another country (guess!) does feats that will put Javagal Srinath to shame.

The fact is that this World Cup will not be one of arrivals but of teary-eyed departures. Many legends will chose South Africa to bid farewell to the game they nurtured by their magic for so long and in the process created so much of happiness for all of us cricket fans.

The giant among such veterans no doubt is Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram:
ODI Matches: 350 Wickets: 490 Runs: 3646

Once `Wasimbhai’ is gone from the stage after this World Cup, Pakistan will not know what hit them. So towering has been his presence in the team for the nearly one and a half decades he was in the team, his sheer presence was enough to inspire the young boys in the team to stretch themselves and give out amazing performances.

For over an year now Akram has not been at his best, nor has his fitness been anywhere near performing level. But everyone knows that as long as he is around, Akram can come out with something that will turn the course of the match.

He has a slightly angular approach which helped him couch most of his deliveries. His armoury is full of poisonous darts and all those who have faced him vouch for the potency of his deliveries. Akram perfected or rather discovered the reverse swing, he could swing it late, he could swing it early. If he wanted to scare the wits out of the batsmen he could bounce even on dirt tracks.

Throughout his career he dared the batsmen. When he set the field there was purpose behind it, when he marshaled his men as captain there was a finality to it.

He was implicated in the match-fixing scandal after his team lost to Bangladesh in the last World Cup. But he is not one who gives up. Wanting to go out in glory, as captain, he orchestrated a small rebellion within the team in the last two months, to oust Waqar Younis. It almost succeeded.

But now he will be in South Africa as a bowler who might not get to play all matches but when he is around, he will come out with a cracker. That’s for sure.

Aravinda Da Silva
ODI: Matches: 297 Runs: 8973 Centuries: 11 50’s : 62 Wkts: 97

The stats speak of the tremendous impact that this balding stylish and portly

sports-car loving Sri Lankan player has had on the game. Like all great players he has persistence and ability to come back from the brink.

Otherwise he would not have been around having been implicated in the match-fix scandal and forced to sit out for a while. Lesser men would have given up. Now he his back for his swan song and is in true form Aravinda can demolish any bowling attack be it in Tests or one-dayers.

He drafted and executed the demolition plan of the Indian team at Eden Gardens in the 1996 World Cup. He is capable of doing it here as well and is back in dangerous form which he is displaying in the VB Series.

He is the bowler who his captain Sanath Jayasuriya can call on to break a partnership. His slow breaks are truly deceptive and clever. When he is out there in the middle casting his eyes round the park, there is brutal intention. After he smacks a boundary, he assumed an understated posture as if all that was part of an evening’s outing. Aravinda is cast in the mould of his former captain, Arjuna Ranatunga not just in the rotund nature of his waistline but in clinical execution of his plans.

Aravinda carried Sri Lanka to a Cup victory against all odds. He along with Arjuna was instrumental in the transition of the team from ordinary to great. His act will be difficult to replicate.

First Published: Jan 25, 2003 20:12 IST