The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 is around the corner, set to captivate cricket enthusiasts from October 5th to November 19th in India. This prestigious event will showcase ten formidable teams across ten diverse venues. Host nation India, boasting two previous championships, gains an automatic entry. Alongside cricket giants like Australia, Afghanistan, South Africa, England (the reigning champions), Pakistan, New Zealand (2019 runners-up), and Bangladesh, who secured their spots by excelling in the ICC Cricket World Cup ODI Super League from 2019 to 2023. Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, triumphant in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, complete the exciting roster. This blog will introduce the top players to watch in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India during this 6 1/2-week cricket extravaganza, highlighting their potential to shine on the world stage.
Babar Azam, Pakistan
Babar Azam, Pakistan’s No. 1-ranked ODI batter, plays a pivotal role in Pakistan’s top-order batting. With an impressive average of over 58 and a near 90 strike rate, he poses a threat to both pace and spin bowlers. Babar Azam holds the record for being the fastest to reach 5,000 ODI runs, achieving this milestone in 97 innings, surpassing greats like Virat Kohli, Viv Richards, and David Warner. In 2023, he already notched two centuries and six half-centuries in his first 11 innings, showcasing his consistency. During his previous World Cup appearance in 2019, he averaged 67.71 with an unbeaten century and three half-centuries. Babar Azam has maintained a remarkable average of nearly 68 since then and is the only batsman ranked in the top five across all three formats. He received the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2021 and 2022.
Mitchell Starc, Australia
Mitchell Starc, the tall left-arm paceman from Australia, plays a crucial role in white-ball cricket by delivering full, swinging deliveries at the stumps during the powerplays, aiming for various modes of dismissal. His memorable moments include dismissing Brendon McCullum in the third ball of the 2015 World Cup final. Starc was named Player of the Tournament with 22 wickets when Australia claimed the title. In 2019, he took 27 wickets in England, although Australia reached the semifinals. With 49 wickets in 18 World Cup matches at an average of 14.8, he boasts excellent figures, with a best of 6-28. Although this strategy can be expensive if he deviates from his line, it proved effective in Indian conditions, as demonstrated by his 5-53 performance in Australia’s 10-wicket victory over India. Despite recent injuries and limited one-day cricket, Starc earned a spot in Australia’s 15-man squad.
Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh
Shakib Al Hasan, a 36-year-old allrounder from Bangladesh, will participate in his fifth World Cup, maintaining his status as his country’s premier player in the short format. He holds the top spot as an allrounder in international ODI cricket, accumulating over 7,300 runs and 300 wickets with his slow left-arm orthodox bowling. He’s only the third player, following Sanath Jayasuriya and Shahid Afridi, to achieve both 7,000 runs and 300 wickets. Shakib’s batting average in World Cups is almost 46, significantly higher than his career average. In the last World Cup, he scored 606 runs, including two centuries and five half-centuries. Despite a 12-month suspension in 2019 for not reporting bookmaker approaches in the Indian Premier League, Shakib’s performance remains impressive. He believes ODI cricket is Bangladesh’s best chance for international success.
Virat Kohli, India
Virat Kohli, a prominent Indian cricketer, aims to emulate Sachin Tendulkar’s 2011 World Cup triumph on home soil. Currently ranked sixth in batting, Kohli is the only active player in the ICC’s all-time top 10 lists. Despite turning 35 during the tournament, his unbeaten 122 against Pakistan marked his 47th century in ODIs, surpassing 13,000 runs in record time. In three World Cups, he’s played 26 matches, scoring two centuries with an average of 46.81. His best World Cup performance was in England in 2019, amassing 443 runs at an average of 55.37. In India, he has 21 centuries in 110 ODIs with an average of 57.94.
Virat is one of the top players to watch Cricket World Cup 2023. Married to actress Anushka Sharma, Virat is set to break new records.
Bas de Leede, Netherlands
Bas de Leede, hailing from the Associate nations, is a rising star to watch. His remarkable performance during the qualifying tournament, taking 5-52 while bowling and smashing 123 runs off 92 balls as No. 4 against Scotland, secured Netherlands’ spot in the World Cup. This feat puts him in an exclusive club with Viv Richards, who also scored a century and took five wickets in a one-day international. The 23-year-old allrounder comes from a cricketing family, with his father Tim having played in three World Cups and notable wickets to his name, including Tendulkar, Hayden, and Inzamam-ul-Haq. In the qualifiers, the younger de Leede claimed 15 wickets, including a remarkable performance of 41 runs and bowling figures of 3-42 against 1996 World Cup champion Sri Lanka.
Liam Livingstone, England
Liam Livingstone is a player who thrives on making impactful contributions at crucial moments rather than topping the scoring charts. His recent unbeaten 95 against New Zealand, rescuing England from 28 for four to a total of 226 and a victory, showcased his value. It’s essential to assess players like Livingstone fairly, as they often face challenging situations when they come to bat. His ability to produce match-saving innings or quickfire runs makes him a valuable asset. With growing importance in his bowling and considering Adil Rashid’s fitness concerns, Livingstone’s experience from the Indian Premier League could prove pivotal for England.
Heinrich Klaasen, South Africa
Heinrich Klaasen, often batting at No. 5, possesses the ability to single-handedly win games. His recent explosive innings against Australia, scoring 174 off 83 balls with 13 sixes, highlighted his game-changing potential. While it’s essential not to overreact to one innings against an under-strength opponent, Klaasen’s striking ability is undeniable. South Africa boasts a strong side, but Klaasen stands out as a potential match-winner, especially against spin in the middle overs, as demonstrated against Adam Zampa. His performance promises excitement for South Africa in the upcoming matches.
Daryl Mitchell, New Zealand
Daryl Mitchell has been in remarkable form since his ODI debut two years ago, particularly against England. His consistent performance over the past few years suggests that entering the national team later in his career has benefited him. Mitchell, along with Devon Conway, both aged 32 and ODI debutants in 2021, brings stability and authority to the New Zealand side. He plays a vital role with both his middle-order batting and medium-pace bowling, offering valuable options to the captain. His motivation to maintain his place in the team is evident, making him a crucial player.
Maheesh Theekshana, Sri Lanka
Despite Sri Lanka’s recent successes, they face injury concerns entering the World Cup. Maheesh Theekshana, though currently injured, has been in excellent form this year, claiming 31 ODI wickets in 2023, second only to India’s Kuldeep Yadav. His versatility in bowling across all phases of the game makes him a crucial asset for his team once he recovers. Notably, he became the first spinner to bowl a maiden over in the final over of an IPL innings this year.
Rashid Khan, Afghanistan
Rashid Khan is a prominent name in the realm of spin bowling, known for his exceptional variations, pinpoint accuracy, and knack for outfoxing batsmen. His dual prowess with both bat and ball makes him an invaluable asset, and his performances will play a pivotal role in Afghanistan’s success.
Quinton de Kock, South Africa
Quinton de Kock is a dynamic force for South Africa, known for his explosive batting and agile wicketkeeping skills. His capability to deliver quick starts as an opener and his dexterity behind the stumps establish him as a player capable of setting the tone for his team.
These Top Players to Watch in ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India are set to make a big difference to the performance of their teams.
References: Wikipedia, Google, Google Images, and cricketworldcup.com