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1992 parallels, Kohli's statesmanship, and the Afridi award for retirement

From the pitches to the commentary booth to Twitter memes and press conference gems, a look at the highs and lows of the World Cup

Osman Samiuddin
Osman Samiuddin
Martin Guptill gets under the ball to take a catch, Bangladesh v New Zealand, World Cup 2019, The Oval, June 5, 2019

If a ball was in the air, then Martin Guptill was somewhere close by (or far away) to grab it  •  PA Photos/Getty Images

From the pitches to the commentary booth to Twitter memes and press conference gems, a look at the highs and lows of the World Cup
Shot of the tournament
By Rohit Sharma.
Which one?
Any. All.
Shot of the tournament not played by Rohit Sharma
Anything Avishka Fernando played. Ditto Babar Azam. Carlos Brathwaite's six that wasn't because of Trent Boult. Ben Stokes' six that was because of Trent Boult. Jimmy Neesham's Super Over six. MS Dhoni's leaves. Mitchell Santner's leave/duck to the last ball of New Zealand's innings in the final.
The winner, though, is Jason Roy's six off Mitchell Starc in the Edgbaston semi-final. The audacity of what England's openers have been doing is sometimes undercut by the automaton nature of how often and easily they keep doing it. There are the drives, lofts, pulls, punches, but this one was the heart and soul inside the machine. A rubber-wristed flick over fine leg off one of the tournament's fastest bowlers. So rubber-wristed that if you froze the follow-through, Roy looked like a lefty guiding a length ball through point with an open-faced bat.
Player of the tournament
Player of the tournament if we're sharing
Pakistan cricket Twitter. In defeat, in triumph, in despair, in elation, when not even playing, nobody did it better.
Player of the tournament if we're being bitter
Player of the tournament if we're being honest
Lasith Malinga, whose 4 for 43 against England simultaneously blew this tournament up and kept it alive. His reward was for his belly to be meme-d.
Player of the tournament (last one, honest)
This guy.
Match of the tournament
India-Pakistan, except not on the field but in the skies above and in political chants inside the stadium. Proxy war, I believe is the term.
Man of the final
Ben Stokes? No. Jos Buttler? No. Henry Nicholls? No.
The man of the 2019 World Cup final was indisputably Brendon McCullum, spiritual father to both sides and warm hugger of both captains pre- and post-final. Baz's 2015 New Zealand side was the inspiration for Eoin Morgan and his revamping of England while Williamson's New Zealand may not carry the same gung-ho ability, but do play with the same spirit.
Old New Zealand (England) vs Slightly New New Zealand (New Zealand) produced no winner or loser. But the winner was Baz.
Universe Boss of the Tournament
Sorry Chris, swag is out, understated humility and normcore is in. England may have won the tournament but the real winner - of hearts, mind, body and soul as well as Player of the Tournament - was Kane Williamson. Right through the tournament, whether scoring an inordinately high proportion of his side's runs, or through his unreal, cool handling of some really hairy on-field moments, Williamson was everywhere. Except he wasn't in your face like modern celebrity is in your face, he was in your face like a cool breeze on a sweltering day. His press conferences pre- and especially post-final were enough to win - the calm, the grace, the intelligence. For any human being, Williamson is #lifegoals.
Troll of the tournament
Pitches, to batsmen. Between this World Cup and the last, the run rate in ODIs in England was 6.07. Four hundred had become the new 300 and nearly every game was breaking some batting record. Batsmen arrived rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation. Sides were expecting 500. But the pitches turned out to be slow, some given to seam, some to spin, some with overhead conditions favouring swing. Some did things nobody had ever seen before: start like Trent Bridge, end like Sharjah on Valium. The pitch for the final was as green as the outfield at one stage, and then played slow.
Forget 500, no side crossed 400. There were no double-hundreds and the overall tournament run rate was 5.59, lower than even 2015. Made for gripping cricket, though.
Ball of the tournament: In the yorker category
Beating a guy who has been at the crease for over two hours, who is on 89, who is one of the batsmen of the tournament, with a ball he knows is coming, you know it's coming, we all know it's coming, is the boss move of the yorker. The best thing about Mitchell Starc's yorker to Ben Stokes was that in trajectory and pace and dip it felt like a Waqar delivery, but bowled by a left arm, it was Wasim too.
Ball of the tournament: in the bouncer category
Bouncers are back. And one of the tournament's first remains its best. Jofra Archer would go on to bowl plenty of bouncers, all of them dangerous, a few of them wicket-taking, a few of them life-endangering. But nothing was a grander announcement into the tournament than the one which pinged Hashim Amla.
Deceptively quick, not as short as it might have looked, and right at his forehead. It was a moment that burst South Africa's campaign wide open, but also the moment that turned England's attack from good to title-winning.
Catch of the tournament
Yes Nas, Ben Stokes did do that, but what he did not do was what Martin Guptill did. Or Lockie Ferguson. Or Jimmy Neesham. Or Imran Tahir (off his own bowling; Imam-ul-Haq, in case you forgot). Or Sheldon Cottrell. Mostly, though, Guptill.
Commentary moment of the World Cup
Loved Ian Bishop's "Dream diminished" and Ian Smith calling two great New Zealand finishes, but Sourav Ganguly calling Sarfaraz Ahmed Sarfraz Nawaz during the India-Pakistan game is what cricket commentary in 2019 is all about.
The captain who won the World Cup
Neither Morgan or Williamson can say they really won the World Cup. You know who can, who did? Virat Kohli. First, there was the statesman-like request to fans to not boo Steven Smith, returning to international attention for the first time since Sandpapergate. Noble, sensitive, kind, and no, it wasn't Kohli who did but didn't, almost but not quite, call Smith a cheat publicly for looking up to a dressing room. Nope.
Also: he walked when he wasn't even out. Give him the cup already.
Best Pakistan (past campaigns) tribute act
Afghanistan. A shambles.
Most vacuous controversy of the tournament (aka in what new way can India flex its strength this time?)
Pakistani players ate some burgers and stuff. Shoaib Malik went to a shisha bar. This was a thin World Cup for pointless controversies but Glovegate would have been a winner in any edition. It had all the ingredients: India's might and endless desire to prove it's a big boy, sorry, country now; a big name, the biggest in fact; a misplaced but acute sense of nationalism; the ICC, as an easy, faceless villain and a world stage. At its core, it was quite boring. MS Dhoni was wearing gloves with stuff on them that wasn't allowed under ICC code. It became, thankfully, so much more.
Feud of the tournament
Sanjay Manjrekar-Ravindra Jadeja almost won it. Jason Roy-Kumar Dharmasena would have won it had they not hugged it out before the final almost turned into one. KP-Eoin Morgan could have got worse if England didn't win it.
Feud of the tournament that isn't the above
Wimbledon v CWC19, Federer v Kane, FTA v paywall, cricket v irrelevance. Wimbledon won. Fed lost but Kane didn't, even though he did. By being forced to broadcast the World Cup final on Channel 4, so too, briefly, did FTA. Irrelevance has been held off for now too.
Timeliest ego boost for cricket
Lewis Hamilton complaining that the British Grand Prix should have been scheduled to avoid clashing with the World Cup final (okay, fine, he mentioned Wimbledon too). "I don't understand why the organisers put the race on the same day as all these other BIG EVENTS," he said (and the caps are all us because he's English and he called cricket a big event). Imagine, another sport being threatened by cricket.
The Asoka de Silva award for umpiring
Kumar Dharmasena.
The Shakib Al Hasan allrounder of the tournament award
Shakib Al Hasan. I mean, he has been the best allrounder in the world for years now, it's not like he wouldn't be at this tournament.
The most contrived parallels to a previous tournament to justify content for one team, inspired by WhatsApp forwards
Sorry, our bad.
The Shahid Afridi award for services rendered to the blurring of the pretty simple concept of retirement
Christopher Henry, we'll see you in 2023.
The Shahid Afridi award for services rendered to the blurring of the pretty simple concept of retirement - runners-up
AB de Villiers. Fellers, consider this a tip:
Retirement (/rɪˈtʌɪəm(ə)nt/
the action or fact of leaving one's job and ceasing to work.
Most high-profile retirement of the tournament
Guy changed Indian cricket, central to two world titles, middle-order champion, an absolute IPL icon, thank you for the memories MS Dh… sorry, Yuvraj Singh.
Least high-profile retirement of the tournament
JP Duminy.
Number of the tournament
0: the number of hundreds scored by Kohli, the greatest ODI batsman of our age. Not a bad tournament, mind you - five fifties, 443 runs, 55.37 average, 94.05 strike rate.
Number of the tournament II
41: in kilogrammes, the number of biscuits eaten in the press box during the India-Pakistan game. Hey, we need that sugar to do what we do.
Elite Langer-ism of the tournament
Australia's players walked a lap of The Oval barefoot in training one day. Nobody's sure why, except that it was a nice thing to do and Matthew Hayden and Langer used to do it.
Funkiest captaincy of the tournament
Yawning. Give Sarfaraz Ahmed a break - it was a pretty dull contest.
Customer feedback of the tournament
"Dear ICC,
You've given us pitches that are too green and hotels that have no swimming pools and grounds with bad facilities. In return we opened this tournament for you.
What to say now that the World Cup is over
"I think Law 19.8 and the boundary countback tiebreaker are the kind of rules or playing conditions that could only have been made thinking they would never actually come under any real scrutiny."
What not to say now that the World Cup is over
"Cricket? Isn't that where they play for ages and ages and nobody wins?"

Osman Samiuddin is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo