Cricinfo XI March 29, 2007

Top of the flops

Some players are enjoying stellar World Cups, scoring runs and taking wickets as though they were going out of fashion. Others have not been so fortunate

Some players are enjoying a stellar World Cup, scoring runs and taking wickets as though they were going out of fashion. Others have not been so fortunate. With the first phase over and the Super Eights swinging into action we asked for your nominations for the worst players of the tournament so far. There was a huge response and below are the XI who came out top

Chris Gayle hasn't fired yet at the World Cup but there's still plenty of time © Getty Images
Virender Sehwag
If it was up to some of our readers, the entire Indian squad would have made up this column. But then feelings are running fairly high at the moment. Sehwag, though, was quickly at the head of the pack despite glimpses that he may have turned the corner, not with his ton against Bermuda, whose attack Geoff Boycott's mother would have creamed to all parts, but his promising 48 against Sri Lanka. However, his failure against Bangladesh, dragging Mashrafe Mortaza into his stumps, set the tone for India's campaign and they never found second gear when it mattered.

Chris Gayle
The coolest man in cricket hasn't quite warmed to the World Cup. It doesn't help that he's an opener as early conditions, especially in Jamaica, have helped the bowlers but Gayle's game isn't in full gear. A brutal innings was on the cards against Zimbabwe until he was cut off for 40 off 48 balls and against Ireland he went too hard, too soon and picked out mid on. However, it's hard to criticise because he has always played this way and the switch can be flicked in the space of one innings.

Lou Vincent
After a late charge into New Zealand's World squad, Vincent was shaping up as the Kiwis' power player in the top order. Two matches into the campaign he certainly wasn't hanging around at the crease; back in the pavilion for ducks against England and Kenya, facing a total of 10 balls. When, at the start of his third knock, he made Anderson Cummins appear more lethal than when he ran in for West Indies, Vincent was threatening to become a specialist cover point. A change of attitude broke the shackles and an increasingly confident century followed...but some guys just don't get the lucky breaks. Facing Shane Bond in the nets he took a crack on wrist, which x-rays confirmed would rule him out for the rest of the World Cup.

Was this dismissal the end for Sachin Tendulkar? © AFP
Younis Khan
None of Pakistan's big three fired, but it was Younis's two failures while batting at No. 3 which really damaged their prospects. With such a flimsy opening partnership Younis was, in effect, a third opener and his scores of 9 and 0 meant Pakistan never managed a solid base in the two matches that mattered. Against West Indies he played an ill-judged hook then the might of Ireland's seam attack, in the shape of Boyd Rankin, was too much on a green top at Sabina Park. He slipped down the order against Zimbabwe and heaved a few boundaries, but by then his and the team's focus was on anything but cricket.

Sachin Tendulkar
Remember, these choices are those of our readers. It is the fans who idolised Tendulkar for years who have nominated him for this list. Is it the end of an era? World Cup history is littered with Tendulkar moments and he is still comfortably the leading run-scorer of all time. However, his tame dismissal against Bangladesh, undone by an arm-ball, and being bowled off the inside edge against Sri Lanka are further signs that his powers are waning. Even his late-over flogging of Bermuda appeared more the act of a man desperately trying to hang on rather than someone stamping his authority on a game.

Andrew Flintoff
Take one England cricketer, throw in a dash or two of St Lucia's finest cocktails, allow to party for a few hours and top off with a pedalo. Every knows Freddie likes to enjoy himself but when he fell into the sea following England's defeat to New Zealand he'd stretched his long leash too far. It wasn't as though he'd tried to single-handedly defy the Kiwis - a first-ball duck and no wickets - and although he was only one of six players fined, the management decided this had been one too many exploits from Flintoff. He was dropped for the match against Canada, stripped of the vice-captaincy and returned, chastened, against Kenya. Keen to make amends he bowled with pace, but he has a lot of ground to make up during the Super Eights.

Andrew Flintoff made the headlines...for the wrong reasons © Daily Star
Mike Hussey
Mr Cricket has lost his mojo. The man who couldn't stop scoring can now barely buy a run with four World Cup innings totaling 20. However, this needs some context. Australia have not exactly been in the mire when Hussey has walked in; twice there's been 300-plus on the board and he has never had his chance with less than 200 rattled up. The longest potential innings he's had is 15 overs - against West Indies when he chopped Daren Powell into his stumps - so neither has there been huge amounts of time on offer. Yet, because of his near unstoppable form of the last two years the whispers are starting as to whether his weakness has been found. If carving to deep extra-cover is a weakness then maybe he has. But when, or if, Australia find themselves at 50 for 4 you can guess who they'll want walking to the middle.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
A third Indian and another big-name player who failed when the pressure was on. The small West Indian grounds should have been made for Dhoni's strokeplay, instead his contribution was limited to 29 against Bermuda and a handful of catches. His limp cut shot against Bangladesh was in the middle of the collapse which sealed India's fate, but he can't be blamed too much for not picking Murali's doosra. That will be of no consolation to the billions who don't have their team to follow and the glamour boy of Indian cricket has lost his sparkle.

Dwayne Leverock didn't enjoy much success, but still left a mark on the tournament © Getty Images
Daan van Bunge
van Bunge was pretty much on a hiding to nothing when Luke van Troost tossed him the ball against South Africa in St Kitts. The scoreboard was already rattling along and the batsmen had the bit between their teeth. A couple of Herschelle Gibbs sixes were par for the course - young leggie, small boundaries - three was starting to look bad and four was getting silly. Then Gibbs decided to have some fun and van Bunge found himself a place in history as the first man to go for six maximums in an international over.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan
With the absence of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif this was the chance for Naved-ul-Hasan to show that he could carry Pakistan's attack. The plan lasted one match as he leaked vital runs at the end of West Indies' innings during the opening game. It was a continuation of Naved-ul-Hasan's struggles which started in South Africa when he was regularly flayed around the ground, losing his ability to bowl that pinpoint yorker at the death. After Pakistan's early exit a clear out is expected and Naved-ul-Hasan will be one of those nervous about his place.

Dwayne Leverock
The Bermudan big man took a heavy pounding despite the early excitement created by his 2 for 32 against England in the warm-up match. He conceded runs at 7.7 an over as his flighty left-arm spin was too easy for the batting line-ups of India and Sri Lanka. His fielding, too, didn't stand up to the pressure of top-level cricket - except for one outstanding moment. Flinging himself to his right he hung onto an edge from Robin Uthappa's bat. His celebration will be a defining image of the tournament and really that's what matters.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo