Cricket World Cup: MM’s greatest Lancashire XI

With this summer’s Cricket World Cup rapidly approaching, MM takes a look back at a possible Lancashire XI to compete in the 50-over format.

We think you’ll agree that below are some of the greatest World Cup cricketers to ever wear the red rose…

1. Sanath Jayasuriya (Sri Lanka)

The swashbuckling left-hander was a truly unique cricketing talent. However, the most astonishing thing about Jayasuriya was that he played in an unprecedented 445 ODIs for Sri Lanka in a career spanning a baffling 22 years, the third most of any cricketer in history. The opener, who scored 28 ODI hundreds including a memorable 152 against England at Headingley in 2006, signed temporarily for Lancashire in 2007 to bolster an already-potent batting line-up.

2. Martin Guptill (New Zealand)

An unashamedly white-ball specialist who failed to ever really cut it at Test match level, the explosive opener made an impression at the last two World Cups for his native New Zealand. That Guptill is also a critical cog in this summer’s Kiwi World Cup machine is testament to his enduring longevity, a career spanning 160 ODIs and including a ruthless 237 not out against the West Indies in 2015. Guptill signed for Lancashire in the summer of 2016, and remains one of his country’s most prolific one-day run scorers.

3. Sourav Ganguly (India)

A languid yet highly effective operator at the top of the order, Ganguly played in a mammoth 311 one-day internationals for India between 1992 and 2007. In a career of considerable longevity, he played in three World Cups and spent part of the 2000 summer at Old Trafford as an overseas player. A divisive character for many, Ganguly will always be remembered for his infamous mimicking of Andrew Flintoff’s tops-off celebration on the Lord’s balcony in 2002.

4. Mohammad Yousuf (Pakistan)

Yousuf was one of those batsmen bowlers dreaded, a player of indefatigable defiance who simply refused to succumb to whatever pressure confronted him. Although not a player spectators would describe as box office, Yousuf averaged a healthy 41.71 in 288 ODIs between 1998 and 2010 and represented an indelible pillar of solidarity in Pakistan’s middle-order. In amongst his considerable international duties, Yousuf played for Lancashire in the County Championship in 2008.

5. Clive Lloyd (West Indies)

Lloyd is an unequivocal giant of the game, a cricketer whose genius lay not so much in his batting as it did in his ability to lead a group of extraordinary players. The captain of that rampant West Indian side throughout the 1980s, Lloyd’s finest white-ball hour came in the final of the 1975 World Cup at Lord’s. Striding to the crease with his side faltering against Australia at 50-3, Lloyd made an unerring 102 not out, his only one-day century throughout his 12-year career. He enjoyed a successful spell at Lancashire throughout the 1970s.

6. Jos Buttler (England)

Buttler is a freak. An unassuming schoolboy from Taunton, Buttler moved to the north-west at the end of 2013 in a bid to win more trophies at domestic level. He has thrived. Buttler is England’s prize asset going into this summer’s World Cup, a talent whose batting does as much to perplex as it does to entertain. If England are going to have any chance of lifting the trophy for the first time, Buttler will have to be firing. You’d be a fool to predict that he won’t be.

7. Andrew Symonds (Australia)

Symonds was a funny old cricketer, a World Cup winner in 2007 yet a man who, put simply, never really seemed to do anything. Indeed, the fact that the stocky all-rounder is more famous for his bone-crushing body-check on an onrushing streaker at the MCG in 2008 says all you need to know about the Birmingham-born player. Nevertheless, the maintenance of a batting average higher than his bowling equivalent – 39.75 vs 37.25 – over a 198-game career does serve to reveal the innocuous efficacy of his talent. Symonds, who was still playing in T20s around the world only last year, played for Lancashire in 2005.

8. Wasim Akram (Pakistan)

Akram had that rare cricketing ability of being able to move the ball both ways at speed, intensifying the threat he posed by shielding the seam from the batsman’s view as he was running in. Despite being his arch nemesis in the international game, Michael Atherton befriended him at Old Trafford after he joined in 1988, going onto enjoy a prolific career in the English game. Akram, who took 502 ODI wickets at 23.52 for Pakistan, signed off his stellar international career at the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

9. Michael Holding (West Indies)

The best batsmen in world cricket were intelligent enough to not watch Whispering Death’s run-up as he waltzed in to bowl. If they did, they became mesmerised. Such was the gracefulness of Holding’s action, a bowler who somehow managed to conjure up a frightening degree of speed with a complete absence of any real effort at all. Representing Lancashire in 1981, Holding also played in 102 ODIs and two World Cups, functioning as an integral part of a West Indian seam attack who terrorised batsmen around the world for over a decade.

10. James Anderson (England)

Despite reaching the twilight of his one-day career back in 2015, Anderson’s inclusion is essential. While traditionally associated more with the red ball – 575 Test match wickets at 26.93 is a staggering feat – Anderson still picked up a considerable 269 dismissals in the shorter format, featuring for England in four consecutive World Cups between 2003 and 2015. Still going strong as the leader of England’s four-pronged Test attack, Anderson’s influence in this summer’s Ashes will be vital in enabling England to regain the famous urn.

11. Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)

Many people are oblivious to the fact that the Sri Lankan magician played four seasons at Old Trafford between 1999 and 2007. Although most renowned for his astonishing 800 Test match wickets, Muralitharan played in four World Cups in an equally profitable white-ball career, taking 534 wickets at 23.08 in his 350 matches. While reservations remain over his unorthodox action, never will world cricket see a more successful off-spinner.

Image courtesy of via YouTube, with thanks.

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