Cricket World Cup awards: best player, match and moment – our verdicts

Best player

Mark Ramprakash Rachin Ravindra (New Zealand) was outstanding in the tournament’s opening game and his level barely dropped. He’s a wonderfully talented left-hander, aesthetically very good to watch, who hits the ball with elegant power and has a good head on his shoulders. Throw into the mix some probing left-arm spin and you’ve got a serious talent with a bright future.

Barney Ronay Mohammed Shami (India). Serious impact in a team already steamrollering the field. Fast-medium line and length is the new rock and roll.

Ali Martin The ICC confirmed it remains a batter’s game by plumping for Virat Kohli (India). But despite his avalanche of runs, Shami – purveyor of the most precise seam work outside of Savile Row – was probably the standout across the tournament.

Geoff Lemon An all-round bringer of change, Azmatullah Omarzai transformed Afghanistan from a spin-heavy and batting-light side. Attacked good bowling, scored quickly, kept composure, often unbeaten, and bowled tough overs with at times rapid swing.

Simon Burnton Openers have averaged more than 50 in World Cups before, but never at the strike rate Rohit Sharma (India) has sustained in this tournament. Game after game he set the tone for India in the most emphatic style and under the greatest pressure, in doing so freeing the rest of his batters to achieve all sorts of ridiculous things.

Tanya Aldred Kohli. Exhaled the pressure, despite 48 lifesize cutouts following him to Eden Gardens, 49 to Bengaluru. Out-Beckhamed the Kiwis in the semi, made another 50 in the final, before finally being undone by the captain of the tournament, Pat Cummins.

Best match

MR There have been lots of good games but Afghanistan against Australia was surely the most eventful, with the rank outsiders getting themselves into a position from which they probably win easily 99 times out of 100 only for the innings of the tournament from Glenn Maxwell to snatch victory from their grasp.

BR The Australia v South Africa semi-final, which wasn’t that close in the end and didn’t have fireworks but readvertised the umbrella-gnawing beauty of a low-scoring 50-over knockout game.

AM Maxwell channelling his inner Undertaker in Mumbai, rising from a state of cramped-up rigor mortis to floor Afghanistan with the greatest ODI innings of all time. Australia, not always convincing up to this point, suddenly dared to dream.

Glenn Maxwell thrashes a shot against Afghanistan
Glenn Maxwell had the innings of his life against a spirited Afghanistan side. Photograph: Rajanish Kakade/AP

GL Australia v New Zealand. A run-fest, but worth it for the ferocity of David Warner and Travis Head taking down New Zealand’s opening bowlers, then the courage and class of Ravindra and James Neesham in the chase.

SB South Africa against Pakistan was the tournament’s first genuine thriller, the former chasing 271 with a wicket to spare after Tabraiz Shamsi, who went on to score the winning runs, somehow survived an extraordinarily tight lbw decision with eight runs still needed.

TA South Africa v Pakistan: a slow‑burn thriller. Had ebb and flow, Shaheen Shah Afridi in full stride, brilliance from Mohammad Wasim and South Africa nine down with 11 needed.

Best moment

MR Kohli hitting his 50th ODI ton in the semi-final against New Zealand and then bowing to the great Sachin Tendulkar, who finished his career with 49. I was lucky enough to witness and play against Tendulkar and watch his magnificent career, and to see Kohli emulating and then surpassing it felt like a moment in history.

BR Afghanistan beating the world champions. A significant occasion in cricket history and a moment of pure joy for players and fans.

AM Funniest, certainly, was Angelo Mathews being timed out. Shakib Al Hasan didn’t blink, the old “Spirit of Cricket” debate erupted, officials defended their time-keeping and Mathews posted evidence on social media to the contrary. What a silly sport.

GL Maxwell’s salmon impression, flat on his back with cramps in Mumbai before timing another 60 or so runs in the most astounding double century the world will ever see. Sporting genius.

SB Some India players seemed a little overfocused on individual milestones at times, which isn’t really the done thing, but hitting a six to complete your first century of the tournament and win a game, as Kohli did against Bangladesh in Pune, that’s quite cool.

TA David Miller reaching his hundred with a hammer throw of a six off Cummins in the semi-final – holding together South Africa’s innings when all seemed lost (ultimately it was).

The 50-over World Cup is likely to …

MR … go on. With a lack of bilateral 50-over series, there seems to be a view that we can just do without these games and gear up for the occasional tournament. It is clear that T20s are going to be the dominant format but, with Test cricket fading outside the top three nations, I think ODIs will remain at No 2, and the prestige of the World Cup will remain.

BR … be remembered fondly in books.

AM … live on, given broadcast deals are signed up until 2031. And it should. With the global landscape splitting off in two directions, it provides a stage for the best red- and white-ball players to come together and compete.

Fans watch the World Cup final on a big screen in Prayagraj.
Fans watch the World Cup final on a big screen in Prayagraj. Photograph: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

GL … keep on going for now because India will want to win another before it gets mothballed for good. The frustration over this loss, of all of them, will go deep and last long.

SB … need teams to take it seriously. It’s a great format. But unless staged just before World Cups bilateral ODI series make little sense, and I fear as attention returns to T20s the 50-over game will atrophy quietly in the shadows. Ill-prepared teams make for shambolic and unpredictable tournaments (potentially quite fun, in a dirty way).

TA … totter on, despite its squeezed status between T20s and Test matches – though its format must change. The round robin might be aesthetically pleasing but it goes on, and on, for an interminably long time.

In 2027 England will …

MR … have no World Cup winners in the team, and a completely different side. I don’t expect them to be among the favourites: it’s not that they don’t have good players, but the attitude at the top level in this country towards the 50-over game has been shown to be completely shot to pieces.

BR … stride into a bold new future under captain Moeen Ali, led by Jonny Bairstow and Wayne Larkins at the top, reinventing the game once again under super-cool-guy head coach Salt Bae.

AM … enjoy the golf courses of southern Africa; and probably the truer pitches in between rounds. But given the likely turnover of players (and captain), plus the reduction in ODIs, forging a team of title contenders by then won’t be straightforward.

GL … revolutionise world cricket with cybernetic AI implants before Australia win the World Cup anyway with Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark and Doug Bollinger.

SB … have a decent squad and be due to play 16 ODIs between July 2026 and January 2027, including three away at World Cup co-hosts South Africa (where they’ll also play three Tests and three T20s that winter), and thus look in danger of turning up in decent nick. It’s the hope that kills you, etc.

TA … will have gently retired most of those who received full central contracts this year. Zak Crawley will lead them to semi-final glory, where they’ll fall in a heap to Pakistan, the eventual winners.