Ten cricket stars who could be playing their last ICC Cricket World Cup

Could this be the last ICC Cricket World Cup for stars such as Ben Stokes, Rohit Sharma, Shakib al-Hasan and Trent Boult?

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New Zealand's Kane Williamson and India's Rohit Sharma during the pre-tournament captains' day event [File: Andrew Boyers/Reuters]

The ICC Cricket World Cup is the pinnacle of the sport’s biggest athletes, who spend years striving to get their hands on cricket’s most prized trophy.

Some, like Pakistan’s former captain Imran Khan, call time on their careers once they bag the honour of being world champion, and others, including West Indies great Brian Lara or South Africa’s Jacques Kallis, leave the game without a world title to their name.

The ongoing tournament in India is likely to be the last for some of the cricket’s current giants. Here’s a list of players who could be playing their final Cricket World Cup:

David Warner: Australia

The aggressive opening batter has been one of the biggest stars for his country in the post-2007 World Cup era. The 37-year-old has racked up nearly 7,000 runs in the one-day international (ODI) format, including 22 centuries. He has a penchant for piling up runs in the World Cup, with six centuries in his 24 tournament appearances.

With a home World Cup title under his belt in 2015, Warner would love to sign off on his ODI career with another one abroad.

But although Warner has shown no signs of slowing down in recent years, a 50-over World Cup at the age of 40-plus may be too much.

Quinton De Kock: South Africa

The 30-year-old entered the World Cup on the back of an announcement that he would retire from the ODI format after the tournament.

Whether it’s his hunger to win the title that has often slipped away from South Africa, or the intention of leaving the format all guns blazing, de Kock has made his mark on this tournament.

The baby-faced wicketkeeper and opening batter is the leading run-scorer in India, with four centuries and 545 centuries to his name after seven matches.

South Africa are in belligerent form and look certain to qualify for the semifinals, but if the perennial underachievers are to finally win the title this time around, de Kock will have a crucial role to play in it.

Rohit Sharma: India

Rohit Sharma was marked as one of the next big Indian cricket stars leading up to the 2011 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. However, he was left out of the squad that went on to lift the trophy at home.

So if there is one player in the Indian team who’s desperate to win it 12 years later, it’s the unassuming captain.

The 36-year-old has been leading the tournament favourites by example and has quietly done his job of scoring quick runs at the top of the order.

Being on the wrong side of his thirties and with India churning out leading batters every now and then, Rohit will probably treat this World Cup as his last and hope that he can replicate MS Dhoni in leading India to glory at home.

Kane Williamson: New Zealand

Williamson’s New Zealand side have come close to winning their first World Cup title twice in the last two editions. As if the pain of not winning the final wasn’t enough, the Kiwi captain entered the tournament while recovering from an injury and played one match before he was injured again.

He now faces a race against time to be fit for New Zealand’s last two matches and lead them in their bid to make a third consecutive final. With injuries plaguing the past few months of his glittering career as he turned 33, Williamson will be keen to get his side over the line before he calls time on his career.

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A fan holds a placard in support of New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson during the match between New Zealand and South Africa in Pune, India [Manish Swarup/AP]

Ben Stokes: England

The prolific all-rounder has been England’s go-to guy in world tournaments since that fateful night in Kolkata in 2016 when he was hit for four consecutive sixes by West Indian all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite in the T20 World Cup final.

England have since won the 50-over Cricket World Cup and the 20-over version, with Stokes their hero in both finals. Stokes reversed his decision to retire from ODI cricket a few weeks ahead of this World Cup but hasn’t been able to make a similar impact in his team’s abysmal run.

With injuries often now hampering his performances, Stokes will probably leave the format again to keep his energies focused on the shortest and longest formats of the game.

Shakib al-Hasan: Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s often lone warrior who has dragged them through tournaments with performances with bat and bowl, Shakib al-Hasan has consistently been one of the world’s leading all-rounders over the past decade.

The 36-year-old has played nearly 250 ODIs in his 17-year career, all the while breaking several all-round records.

Along with fellow veterans Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib may well call it time on the format once Bangladesh’s run in India ends on November 11.

Mohammad Nabi: Afghanistan

Afghanistan have gone from being cricket’s feelgood story to becoming genuine contenders in every tournament and Mohammad Nabi has been around for most of that journey.

The quiet all-rounder has been doing the damage with his accurate off-spin and intelligent batting from the time he made his debut in 2009.

Nabi took over the reins of Afghanistan’s leadership from their first captain Nawroz Mangal and led them to 13 ODI wins.

At 38 years of age and a waning form, Nabi may take the route of dropping the ODI format and sticking to the shortest one after the tournament ends.

Trent Boult: New Zealand

Boult has been one-half of New Zealand’s famed fast-bowling pair over the past decade, along with Tim Southee. His 200-plus wickets in the format with a strike rate of 29 are a testament to his accuracy and New Zealand’s dependence on him.

His pace and ability to move the ball have made him a mainstay of New Zealand’s success in the last two World Cups. To top it off, Boult is a terrific fielder and comical batter.

If the 34-year-old does bid goodbye to the 50-over format in a few weeks, cricket fans will at least have plenty of “Trent Boult funny batting” videos to fall back on.

Angelo Mathews: Sri Lanka

Angelo Mathews is the only Sri Lankan cricketer at the current World Cup to be playing in his fourth consecutive edition of the tournament.

The former Sri Lanka captain was nowhere near the country’s tournament squad when it was announced in September, but a string of injuries to the main and reserve group led officials to recall Mathews in the middle of the tournament.

The 36-year-old led Sri Lanka during the 2015 World Cup, when they were knocked out in the quarterfinals, and was part of the squad that lost the 2011 final to India.

With Sri Lanka struggling to survive in the tournament, the 240-ODI veteran may finally bid adieu to the tournament in a week.

Roelof van de Merwe: Netherlands

One of the few cricketers to have represented two countries in international cricket, Roelof van de Merwe is a proper veteran of the game.

The 38-year-old represented South Africa for more than a year and then made his debut for the Netherlands five years later, playing in plenty of domestic competitions in between.

The left-arm spinning all-rounder has been a dependable name for the Dutch, proven by his inclusion in their World Cup squad despite being one of the oldest cricketers around.

If van de Merwe does indeed retire from ODI cricket, he’d like to go out by helping the Dutch pull off another World Cup upset.

Source: Al Jazeera