Ranking the Top 10 Cricket World Cup Heroes

Antoinette Muller@mspr1ntFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2015

Ranking the Top 10 Cricket World Cup Heroes

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    Rahmat Gul/Associated Press

    What exactly defines a hero? Is it a single moment, or is it a whole tournament of excellence?

    For the purposes of this exercise, the answer to that question is both. Since the Cricket World Cup first began, it has dished up some wonderful memories. Some players have had lengthy careers, while others have had moments which have cemented them as cult heroes.

    Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

10. Kevin O’Brien

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    During the 2011 Cricket World Cup in India, Kevin O'Brien single-handedly destroyed England when they took on Ireland in their Group B match. His 113 off 63 led Ireland to a memorable three-wicket win as they chased down 328 runs.

    Ireland won just one other match (against the Netherlands), but O'Brien earned himself cult status with his knock.

9. Lance Klusener

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    THEMBA HADEBE/Associated Press

    This will probably go down as quite a contentious selection since we all know what happened to South Africa during the 1999 World Cup.

    But Lance Klusener’s effort in that World Cup was tremendous. He finished as South Africa’s top run-scorer and wicket-taker at the tournament, with 281 runs at an amazing average of 140.50 and a strike rate of 122.17. He was also the fourth-highest wicket-taker overall, with 17 at an average of 20.58.

    If only Allan Donald heard that call in the semi-final.

8. MS Dhoni

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    Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

    As the first captain to lead a team to a World Cup win on home soil, MS Dhoni deserves a lot of credit. He scored just 241 runs at an average of 48.20 in nine matches, but his influence to help his team reach and eventually win the final should be praised.

7. Sanath Jayasuriya

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Sanath Jayasuriya revolutionised the game during the 1996 World Cup. His pickup shots over midwicket and slashing through the covers rewrote the manual of batting.

    Sri Lanka won the tournament, with Jayasuriya notching up 221 runs in six matches. Despite being run out in the final, Jayasuriya's influence on modern batting was tremendous.

6. Aravinda de Silva

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Along with Jayasuriya for Sri Lanka was Aravinda de Silva. His century in the 1996 final, as well as three wickets for 42 runs, contributed to Sri Lanka winning the trophy.

5. Imran Khan

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    Ross Setford/Associated Press

    How did a team that was bowled out for 74 in a group game come back to win the tournament? Whether or not his famous "Cornered Tigers" speech was the turning point for a side that looked to be struggling, the way Pakistan pounced back and found their vigour was something quite impressive.

4. Ricky Ponting

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    Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

    Ricky Ponting has played in more World Cup matches than anyone else (46), but he is also the most successful captain, winning 92 percent of the games in which he captained the team.

    He also holds the record for the most sixes and the most catches overall in the tournament. He scored 1,743 runs at an average of 45.86 across all World Cup tournaments, including six fifties and five hundreds.

3. Glenn McGrath

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Glenn McGrath played four World Cups for Australia, and he dominates the bowling records. He has more wickets than anyone at the tournament and has the lowest average of all bowlers to play in World Cups (minimum of 1,000 balls bowled).

    He also has the best individual bowling figures, taking seven for 17 against Namibia in 2003. He also holds the record for taking the most wickets in one tournament (26 wickets in 2007).

2. Clive Lloyd

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    AMAN SHARMA/Associated Press

    One of just two captains to lift the World Cup trophy twice, Clive Lloyd's century in the 1975 edition remains one of the most memorable moments of the competition.

    The West Indies lifted the Cup again four years later in 1979, and Lloyd led his team to yet another final against India in 1983. Although they lost, his powerful middle-order batting and his usefulness with the ball have earned him legendary status in World Cup history.

1. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Some say sports and politics shouldn't mix, but there are cases where it is simply unavoidable.

    During the lead-up to the 2003 World Cup, the political situation was heavily debated. Zimbabwe were co-hosting the tournament, and in the lead-up to their opening match, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga announced that they would wear black armbands to "mourn the death of democracy in Zimbabwe."

    Aside from Andy's brother Grant, the team did not know what was about to happen. Flower walked out to bat at No. 3, sporting his armband, and Olonga was spotted on the balcony doing the same. The black armbands became black sweatbands, which were also worn by the crowd.

    Making a political statement is something sportsmen are advised against, but they have the power to shed light on situations that might otherwise go unnoticed. For that reason, Flower and Olonga sit at the top of this World Cup heroes list.

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