World Cup swansong awaits top cricketers
Some of the top names in world cricket -- Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ricky Ponting -- would love to make this World Cup a memorable one for themselves as this could well be the last time they are playing in cricket’s showpiece event.
While Sri Lankan legend Muralitharan (38) has already announced his retirement from international cricket after the tournament, Indian batting icon Tendulkar (37), South African all-rounder Kallis (35) and Australian skipper Ponting (36) are unlikely to make it to the next World Cup to be played in 2015.
Ponting (1999, 2003 and 2007 -- last two as skipper) and Muralitharan (1996) have already been part of World Cup winning squads and would be keen to lift the coveted trophy one more time.
Tendulkar, who is set to become the only other cricketer, apart from former Pakistani player Javed Miandad to appear in six World Cups, owns almost all the important landmarks in One-day International cricket but would definitely not like to have a record of playing in the most World Cups without winning even one.
Kallis, too, would be desperate to win the World Cup, missing from his illustrious career.
Meanwhile, Tendulkar may not be the only player, India would lose before the next World Cup.
Given the spate of injuries, even flamboyant opener Virender Sehwag and pace spearhead Zaheer Khan (who would be 36 in 2015) may not feature in the next World Cup.
Besides Ponting, whose future as skipper is uncertain, Australia is also likely to lose pacer Brett Lee (34), who has already announced his retirement from the longer version of the game, and Michael Hussey (34), who was unfortunate not to make it to the team after failing to recover from a hamstring injury.
World Cup co-hosts, Sri Lanka, could be among the biggest losers, as the fulcrum of their batting -- skipper Kumar Sangakkara (33), Mahela Jayawardene (33), and Tillakaratne Dilshan (34) -- are not likely to be around in 2015.
For Pakistan, the injury and controversy-prone Shoaib Akhtar (35), Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (36), and former skipper Younis Khan (34), who shares a love-hate relationship with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), are in all likely be making their last World Cup appearances.
The West Indian trio of Chris Gayle (31), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (36), and Ramnaresh Sarwan (30), too are unlikely to play till 2015.
While it is almost certain that skipper Andrew Strauss (33) and Paul Collingwood (nearing 35) are representing England for the last time, New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, and all-rounder Scott Styris (35), Jacob Oram (32), may not be around for the Black Caps in 2015.
There is also little chance of former Kenya skipper Steve Tikolo (nearing 40), once considered the best batsman among the ICC associate members, all-rounder Thomas Odoyo (32), the first player from a non-Test playing team to achieve the
double of 1500 runs and 100 wickets in ODIs, and former Canada skipper John Davison, who impressed everyone with his pyrotechnics in the 2003 edition, of playing till 2015.