World Cup 2007 March 7, 2007

The real Dad's Army, and inexperienced England

Canada are the oldest team in the World Cup with an average age of over 31. They have the only two 40-plus players of the tournament.



Dougie Brown: The only Scotland player to play in West Indies before © Getty Images

The World Cup has reached its warm-up stage and while some of the older players are coping with weary shoulders and niggles, the young 'uns are getting acclimatised to the foreign conditions in the Caribbean. This week, we look at the overall age distribution across the World Cup squads and the reservoirs of experience, or the lack of it, they possess.

Australia have been wearing the Dad's Army label for a while now and perhaps rightly so because they have ten players on the wrong side of 30 attempting to defend their World Champion status. South Africa, who have an average age of around 30.07, are worthy contenders as well. You would have noticed that most of the better fielding sides are the ones whose players are getting on in years. Among the major Test playing nations, India and Pakistan are among the youngest squads but are arguably the worst fielders.

The minnows present an interesting contrast. Canada are the oldest team in the competition with an average age of over 31. They have the only two 40-plus players of the tournament in George Codrington and Anderson Cummins, the latter being the West Indies highest wicket-taker in the 1992 World Cup, and being only one of five players from that edition to be selected for the forthcoming tournament. Bermuda have a generation gap of sorts, with ten players in their thirties, and the other five all in their early twenties. At the other end of the spectrum is Netherlands' Alexei Kervezee, the youngest player, at the tender age of 17, whilst Zimbabwe have 13 players below the age of 25 and are overall the youngest squad in the West Indies. As a result of the chaos that has eaten away at Zimbabwe cricket over the last five years, only one player - Stuart Matsikenyeri - survives from the team that played the 2003 edition in South Africa.

Average age of each World Cup squad
Team Ave Age Min Max 0-25 26-29 30+
Canada 31.374 23y 31d 40y 303d 3 5 7
Australia 30.867 24y 12d 37y 25d 4 2 9
South Africa 30.078 23y 17d 33y 344d 1 7 7
Bermuda 29.851 17y 253d 37y 59d 5 0 10
Scotland 29.643 20y 299d 37y 128d 3 5 7
Sri Lanka 29.305 22y 32d 37y 249d 4 5 6
New Zealand 28.742 22y 363d 33y 339d 2 8 5
Netherlands 28.611 17y 176d 39y 40d 6 2 7
Pakistan 27.769 24y 142d 37y 3d 5 7 3
India 27.720 21y 115d 36y 140d 7 4 4

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The Asian heavyweights are miles ahead of the rest in terms of collective one-day experience and India and Sri Lanka are a fair distance ahead of Pakistan. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Sanath Jayasuriya are the four players in the tournament with more than 300 ODIs worth of experience.

A most eye-catching stat is England's inexperience. Eight of their players have played fewer than 25 one-day internationals and only Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff have played more than 100. West Indies' Kieron Pollard and Kenya's Rajesh Bhudia are the only players with no international experience whatsoever going into the World Cup. While Pollard impressed many in the West Indies with his hard hitting during this season's Carib Beer Series, Bhudia remains an unknown quantity. He's played in just two List A matches and hasn't batted or bowled in either.

Total ODI experience for each World Cup squad
Team Mat 0 1-49 50-99 100-199 200-299 300-399 Min Max
India 2225 0 4 2 5 2 2 8 381
Sri Lanka 2217 0 5 1 4 4 1 14 379
Pakistan 1654 0 5 4 3 2 1 7 375
South Africa 1591 0 6 3 3 3 0 8 274
Australia 1511 0 5 4 3 3 0 4 269
New Zealand 1348 0 5 5 4 1 0 14 270
West Indies 1190 1 5 5 2 2 0 0 290
Bangladesh 717 0 8 5 2 0 0 4 112
England 622 0 10 3 2 0 0 1 115
Kenya 554 1 10 4 0 0 0 0 91

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Experience of playing in the West Indies is a rare commodity among players in this World Cup. This England squad, for example, has played fewer ODIs in West Indies than Canada, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Bermuda. Scotland have never played ODIs in the Caribbean before but still manage to have one player with West Indies experience in Dougie Brown, who was part of the England team that lost a one-day series 4-1 there in 1997-98.

Total ODI experience in WI for each World Cup squad
Team Mat 0 1-5 6-10 11+ Max
West Indies 387 2 3 1 9 82
South Africa 88 2 6 4 3 12
India 78 1 7 6 1 12
Zimbabwe 69 4 4 7 0 9
Australia 61 8 1 3 3 14
Pakistan 60 6 4 4 1 14
Canada 46 2 12 0 1 11
Bermuda 42 2 13 0 0 5
New Zealand 38 8 6 1 0 10
Bangladesh 37 1 14 0 0 5

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South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and India, who went through a makeover that didn't turn out right, have more or less the same squads that contested the 2003 World Cup. Australia, on the other hand, have just six players from the squad that won in 2003. The other nine will be making their World Cup debuts.

World Cup players from previous World Cups (qualification: non-playing squad members excluded)
Team 1987 1992 1996 1999 2003 None Mat
India 0 1 2 5 8 6 133
Sri Lanka 0 1 3 5 8 7 126
Australia 0 0 2 3 6 9 106
Kenya 0 0 3 5 7 6 84
South Africa 0 0 2 4 9 6 84
New Zealand 0 0 1 2 9 6 82
Pakistan 0 1 1 4 6 9 70
West Indies 0 1 2 2 6 9 55
Netherlands 0 0 2 0 7 8 49
Canada 0 1 0 0 6 8 35

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Travis Basevi is the man who built Statsguru. George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo