When all the 10 participating teams put themselves on the shop window for the World Cup in England and Wales starting May 30, there will be members in each side who will not only be part of the leadership group, but will also be tasked with strategising on the team’s behalf, treading cautiously and wary of a slip which can cost them dear.
Every squad will have its designated captain and head coach to officially be responsible for the team’s travails. But few teams will also have some seasoned campaigners who will help the skipper with on and off field decisions vital to the team’s cause.
IANS takes a look at the chief strategist in each team who are likely to play a pivotal role in their respective team’s campaign in the showpiece event.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)
There cannot be a bigger example than India when it comes to the strategist in the team who is not the captain, but is the heart and soul of the squad when it comes to decision making.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has led India to two World Cup triumphs (T20 in 2007, 50-over in 2011) besides leading Chennai Super Kings to three Indian Premier League titles, is a colossus the team can’t do without.
Time and again, skipper Virat Kohli and his band of boys have said in public that Dhoni’s inputs from behind the stumps are priceless and key to India’s success in white ball cricket in recent years.
There were questions raised over Dhoni’s batting form, but in the last few months, the 37-year old has shown his finishing abilities are just where they should be. And with the wicketkeeping gloves, he is as quick as anyone in the business.
Justin Langer (Australia)
The head coach of the Australia, Justin Langer will have to get the team together inside the dressing room which, in turn, will reflect on the field.
Langer will be assisted by Ricky Ponting who will lend his invaluable experience to the side and also make sure that Steve Smith and David Warner become part of the leadership group seamlessly, something that Langer had stressed on.
Not too long ago, Australian cricket was rocked by the ball tampering scandal leading to the one-year suspension of then skipper Smith and his deputy Warner.
The defending champions have performed well since then, especially in their Asia sojourn, but with Smith and Warner re-integrating with the side, current captain Aaron Finch will need a more experienced hand on his shoulders to ensure that the atmosphere within the team is in fine fettle.
Eoin Morgan (England)
Morgan’s England are ranked No. 1 in the world in one-day cricket and are bidding to win the 50-over World Cup for the first time.
England are hot favourites on home soil and though the team has the likes of Test captain Joe Root and experienced all-rounder Ben Stokes in their ranks, captain Morgan is expected to lead from the front as he has done on many occasions.
A limited over batsman par excellenece, left-handed Morgan is a vital cog in England’s middle order who also has a cool head on his shoulders when it comes to marshalling his troops.
Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
A hard-as-nails batsman and a captain who is as clear-eyed as he can be. Faf du Plessis will look to fill the void of A.B. de Villiers in the side and South Africa will look to him both as a batsman and captain who wins his players’ trust as much with forthrightness as he does with his decisive leadership and gritty batting skills.
Sarfraz Ahmed (Pakistan)
The Pakistan cricket board kept faith in Sarfraz Ahmed despite the stumper-batsman recently getting suspended for making racist comments against a South African player. This goes to show his importance in the side, which is young and needs someone to guide them.
Sarfraz’s side surprised many by winning the 2017 Champions Trophy in England but since that achievement, they have struggled to defeat the top teams. The World Cup is the biggest stage to set things right and Sarfraz will look to do an encore of 2017.
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
One of the world’s best and New Zealand’s No. 1 batsman, Kane Williamson is the leader and strategist of a side which has experience but not as much exposure as their 28-year old skipper. The Kiwis were runners-up in 2015, and Williamson will be hungry to prove the doubters wrong that Kiwis are just valiant losers after exiting in the semifinals of the World Cup on six occasion.
Jason Holder (West Indies)
The West Indies are considered the dark horse in this year’s World Cup and Jason Holder will be the captain of the ship which has many big names, who are wily characters too.
Chris Gayle, 39, will be playing his fifth World Cup while Andre Russell will also be making a comeback to the team. While they are both match-winners in their own right, all has not been well between them and the West Indies cricket board as they refused to represent their country on several occasions. Holder will have to ensure that the team gets the best out of them, both as players as well as leaders.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka are considered one of the weakest teams in the competition and they have not done this image any good by dropping established stars like Dinesh Chandimal from the World Cup party. This makes veteran of many a battle Lasith Malinga a natural leader of the pack.
Malinga helped Mumbai Indians win their record fourth title recently and despite Sri Lanka naming Dimuth Karunaratne as captain who last played an ODI in 2015, 35-year old Malinga will be expected to play a vital role in plotting the team’s journey.
Mashrafe Mortaza (B’desh)
Bangladesh courted controversy recently when Shakib Al Hasan was not part of their team photo before they left for England. One of the team’s main weapons, Shakib will form part of the leadership group along with Mashrafe Mortaza who will also have to ensure the likes of uncapped fast bowler Abu Jayed and recalled Mosaddek Hossain don’t get affected by unnecessary controversies during the tournament as they look to stage upsets.
Mashrafe has been around for a long time and his passion is second to none, which makes him the undisputed leader of this pack.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
The promising Afghanistan side will look to Rashid Khan, their most recognisable player and one of the best spinners in the world, to deliver the goods and inspire the team to pull off upsets. Rashid expressed his disappointment when Asghar Afghan was removed from captaincy two months before the World Cup, but he will have to put all that behind and work closely with new skipper Gulbadin Naib to chart the team’s path.