The supreme platform for cricketers to bring their A-game to the fore is the biggest event the sport offers – the World Cup. While there have been plenty of stalwarts that have stamped their authority in multiple editions, a few have had an immense impact in just one tournament.
Cricket.com takes a look at a few such players who have changed the course of the World Cup having participated just once.
After his foray into politics, he may now be ‘Chowkidar’ Gautam Gambhir and facing plenty of flak for his strong, controversial opinions but there was a time the southpaw let only his bat do the talking. After making a foray into the limited over side in 2003, the free-flowing Gambhir showed remarkable technique while cementing his position in the National side. Despite his exploits, he was left out the 2007 World Cup squad as veterans Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were preferred by the selection committee.
Undeterred, the Delhi batsman continued to put in the hard yards and his time of reckoning came four years later in India’s 2011 triumph. Gambhir featured in all of India’s games scoring four half-centuries, reserving his best for last with a match-winning 97 in the final versus Sri Lanka. Coming in with India having being dealt an early blow, Gambhir consolidated the innings with Kohli first and then joined hands with skipper MS Dhoni to leave India in a comfortable position when he eventually departed. Gambhir finished the tournament with 393 runs at an average of 43.66.
That was his last appearance in the quadrennial event but one that will be remembered for a long time to come.
The 1992 World Cup was known for the innovations it brought into the modern game, especially the tactics employed by New Zealand. Off-spinner Dipak Patel opened the bowling for the Black Caps with reasonable success, while ‘pinch hitting’ gained prominence. An unknown term and tactic until that point, it was Mark Greatbatch who is largely credited with being the first pinch hitter.
After missing the first two games, Greatbatch was brought into the squad for the game against South Africa, shooting into the limelight straight away. Chasing 191, the stubby Greatbatch blazed away from the start handing his side a crucial advantage. He smashed 68 off 60 balls signaling the start of a new dimension of the game.
Greatbatch scored 313 runs in that edition and while he did play for New Zealand post 92, wasn’t picked for the 1996 World Cup, retiring later that year.
Making a name for himself having opened with both bat and ball at the 99 World Cup, lanky all-rounder Neil Johnson shone bright for Zimbabwe.
Having made his one day international (ODI) debut a few months before the World Cup, Johnson was quick to stake his claim in the side enhancing his reputation with every passing game.
Johnson made 59 in his first game against Kenya at Taunton but three failures against India, Sri Lanka and England followed.
Displaying immense character, Johnson produced a solid 76 in a winning cause against South Africa and then backed with a fabulous knock a couple of innings later. Up against the mighty Australians at Lord’s and tasked with a, then, mammoth chase of 304, Johnson struck a brilliant unbeaten 132 that went in vain. His batting exploits weren’t the only eye-ball grabber as he ended the tournament with 12 wickets.
In 2000, Johnson called time on the sport after engaging in a payment dispute with the Zimbabwe board.
It was two left-arm pacers that topped the wickets column in the 2015 World Cup – Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult. The last time a similar bowler had achieved the same feat was in 1999. Two years after making his ODI debut for the Black Caps, Geoff Allott turned out to be an absolute revelation as his side powered their way to the semifinal.
Gifted with a pristine high-arm action and the ability to swing the ball either way, Allott went on to bag 20 wickets in the 1999 edition of the World Cup, a new record back then.
His best performance came against arch-rivals Australia in a group game where he ended with figures of four for 37, in an exemplary display of swing bowling.
Plagued by injuries, Allott would only play a handful of ODIs after the World Cup before retiring from all forms of cricket in 2001.
In a career that has been erratic, to say the least, Umesh Yadav’s high-point came in 2015. After a sedate start, Umesh began using conditions to the optimum and tormenting oppositions to finish with a tally of 18 wickets.
India’s premier bowler in the tournament, Umesh played a vital role in ensuring Bangladesh’s challenge fizzled during their quarterfinal clash at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In the ensuing semifinal against Australia, Umesh was rampant once again accounting for David Warner, Steven Smith, Aaron Finch and James Faulkner. But his efforts went in vain as the batting unit failed in a chase of 329.
Ever since, Umesh has tasted limited success in the white-ball format leading to him missing the bus for the 2019 edition.
You could call it sheer luck but it was also the perseverance of the man that shot him to stardom at the 2003 World Cup. Primarily selected as back-up pace option, with Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee entrusted with leading the line, Bichel’s chance came when Gillespie suffered an injury and was ruled out of the tournament.
After grabbing five wickets in his first two matches against Netherlands and Namibia came Bichel’s greatest ODI showing. Up against Ashes rivals England, Bichel chose the ideal stage to showcase his skills. Ripping through the English batting order, the affable blonde returned figures of seven for 20, second best World Cup figures after McGrath’s seven for 15. It was a dream game for Bichel as he followed up his bowling exploits with a brave knock of 34 not out and with Michael Bevan, took his side home.
Bichel ended with 16 wickets at an average of 12.31 despite which he did not go on to play a role in another edition of the mega event. Since his retirement in 2009, the speedster has dabbled with administration and is a part of Australia’s selection panel.