2015 Cricket Review: AB de Villiers breaks records and England break hearts
2015 Cricket World Cup the highlight of early months...
By David Currie
Last Updated: 04/01/16 2:48pm
We kick off our 2015 review with the best and worst of the ICC Cricket World Cup...
Record-breaking AB de Villiers
(South Africa v West Indies, second ODI, Johannesburg, 18th January)
AB de Villiers has taken the one-day game to stratospheric levels, starting in January in Johannesburg when he scored the quickest hundred in ODI history - off 31 balls - against West Indies. He followed it up a month later with the fastest 150 in ODIs - off just 64 balls - against the same opposition at the World Cup. De Villiers smashed a staggering 16 sixes and nine fours in his record-breaking first effort, finishing on 149 from only 44 balls as South Africa amassed 439-2 in the 50 overs, a knock typical of his, and his side's, 2015 efforts. The Proteas have passed 400 four times in the year, while De Villiers has five hundreds and five fifties, averaging 79.53 in his 18 innings, scoring at a strike-rate of 137.91.
Ireland upset West Indies at World Cup
(Ireland v West Indies, 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool B, Nelson, 16th February)
Ireland followed their famous World Cup victories over England (2011) and Pakistan (2007) with a shock victory over two-time champions West Indies. While they fell short of qualifying for the knockout stages, it was the emphatic manner in which they disposed of the West Indies that made the world take note. Familiar to the county circuit, the efforts of Middlesex's Paul Stirling (92 off 84), Sussex's Ed Joyce (84 off 67), and Leicestershire's Niall O'Brien (79no off 60) comfortably saw the side chase down their 305-run target with four wickets and more than four overs to spare. Sadly, though, Ireland aren't guaranteed a spot at the 2019 tournament in England with them having to earn one of only two spots available to Associate sides at the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Williamson's six to down Australia
(New Zealand v Australia, 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool A, Auckland, 28th February)
Kane Williamson's World Cup highlight was undoubtedly when he lofted Australia's Pat Cummins for six over long-on to seal a thrilling one-wicket win in a low-scoring group-stage clash. Chasing just 152 having run through the Aussies inside 33 overs, the Black Caps slipped from 131-4 to 146-9 before Williamson's statement six earned a famous win. Along with Joe Root, and Steve Smith, Williamson seems to be leading the way among the next generation, but had a fairly disappointing World Cup by comparison. He managed one fifty and averaged only 33.42 across his nine innings. That's in stark contrast to his form since, with one hundred and five fifties in his 10 ODI innings, managing fewer than 39 only once.
England's embarrassing exit
(England v Bangladesh, 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool A, Adelaide, 9th March)
It may seem a distant dream, or frankly, nightmare, but England did get knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage after a humiliating 15-run loss to Bangladesh. Hard to believe given their sensational white-ball form since, but at the time the defeat was hardly even a surprise. A shambolic tournament followed the sacking of Alastair Cook as captain a month prior, and culminated in the loss to Bangladesh in Adelaide. Mahmudullah (103) became the first Bangladesh batsman to score a World Cup hundred as the Tigers tallied 275-7 from their 50 overs, while England slipped to 260 all out despite Jos Buttler's best efforts, as he top-scored with 65 from 52. Peter Moores' men were embarrassed and the coach was sacked soon after.
Elliott's six to seal semi-final win
(New Zealand v South Africa, 2015 Cricket World Cup Semi-final, Auckland, 24th March)
Needing another six-hitting hero coming into their semi-final against South Africa, New Zealand found one in the most unlikeliest of people. Recalled to the side only in January after a year-long absence, the 35-year-old Grant Elliott had been a controversial selection prior to the tournament, with suggestion his style didn't match the swashbuckling approach of a youthful, vibrant, New Zealand side. But that couldn't have been further from the truth as Elliott's cool head under pressure proved vital as the Black Caps chased down their readjusted 298-run target in the rain-reduced 43-overs-a-side contest. Elliott smacked an unbeaten 84 from 73 balls, with seven fours and three sixes, including the one to win it off the penultimate ball.
Australia world champions again
(Australia v New Zealand, 2015 Cricket World Cup Final, Melbourne, 29th March)
The World Cup final was more an emotional contest than it was an exhilarating affair. The trans-Tasman clash didn't match the drama of the group-stage encounter, but it wasn't lacking in dramatic moments, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum being dismissed for a third-ball duck for example. The Black Caps never recovered, crumbling to 183 all-out inside 45 overs, before Australia knocked off the runs with seven wickets in hand. Captain Michael Clarke couldn't quite last long enough to hit the winning runs, but bowed out from ODI cricket by top-scoring with 74 in front of a record 93,013 crowd at the MCG, helping his side win the World Cup for a fifth time.