Cricket: Five Great Players Who Always Failed in World Cup Finals
The ICC World Cup is almost upon us. The competition has grown from its humble early beginnings into a global event beloved the world over. The story of Afghanistan almost qualifying for the finals—and effectively only being denied by a change to the rules—captured hearts even outside the traditional cricketing heartlands.
Over the 26 years since its inception, there have been great moments, some players have taken their first steps towards immortality (Viv Richards in 1975), some have become national heroes (Kapil Dev, 1983) and some have simply grabbed their 15 minutes of fame and run with it (Mike Veletta in 1987).
On the other hand, these five great players—who, coincidentally, all played in the 1979 Final—each made it to at least two finals and failed to perform in any of them. Proof that even the biggest names can freeze on the big occasion.
Greenidge was a monster of an opening batsman, a ferocious striker of the ball who could turn a game seemingly at will—as England found out at Lord's in 1984. He combined this with a solid defensive technique, learned while at school in England. In short, he was a very hard man to get out.
Except in World Cup finals.
Greenidge played in three of them and scored just 23 runs in total, an average of 7.66. Compare that to his overall average of 45.03 in one day games.
Haynes was Greenidge's opening partner in two World Cup finals and a fierce competitor—with opponents, with himself and with Greenidge. In Tests, they shared a world record 16 century partnerships as openers. In one day games, he averaged 41.37 with the bat.
Which makes it more surprising that those two finals yielded just 33 runs and an average of 16.5.
The great West Indies fast bowling attacks that dominated world cricket for 20 years began with Andy Roberts. Fast and accurate (often painfully so), he was the spearhead of that attack in the 70's and early 80's. However, he played in three World Cup finals, went wicketless in two of them and ended up with combined figures of three for 110. Two innings brought him a measly four runs.
His bowling average in finals of 36.66 is more than 11 runs worse than his career one of 25.61 and his batting one a mere fifth of his career 10.04.
The diminutive left-hander was approaching the end of his international career when he played in the second of his two World Cup finals in 1979. Always elegant to watch, English conditions were never his favorite and his two innings in final matches brought him only 16 runs. For a man who averaged 34.41 in one day internationals that was a very poor return indeed.
Yes, really. The man regarded as one of the finest—if not the finest—all-rounders to play the game had a shocking time in his two finals, scoring just four runs and taking only three wickets. He will argue, of course, that his dismissal in the 1992 came as the result of a questionable decision; on the other hand, he had been in for six balls without scoring, when his role was to be the 'pinch-hitter' and score quickly.