A FIFA Cricket World Cup
The FIFA world cup makes life difficult for a cricket fan who is trying to keep up with both sports simultaneously. With the challenges of watching games with 4am starts as well as dealing with conflicting games, following both sports is just about impossible. As the world cup comes around once in four years, many fans such as myself prioritise the FIFA world cup. However, as my heart ultimately belongs to cricket, I have tried to merge the two together.
The following includes a lineup I have created with cricket players if they were playing in this year’s world cup. Their skill sets and attributes relate to a combination of aspects including their records, style of play and demeanour. I have taken a global approach to this and incorporated a number of from both the sports. My formation is 4-1-2-1-2 with a focus on goal scoring from multiple positions.
* note: Suspended players from both sports have been omitted from this lineup and comparisons.
Quinton de Kock (ST)
Up front I need a pair of pure scorers. You win football by scoring goals, you win cricket by scoring runs. QDK can score runs, and when he does he scores them fast. With a strike rate of above 90 in ODI cricket, as well as breaking records for most sixes against Australia, fastest to 11 ODI centuries and other destructive innings (150 in 101 balls), QDK will be a player racking up the goals throughout the world cup.
Comparisons: Antoine Griezmann (France)
Griezmann and de Kock are both shorter in stature. Aside from that similarity, both players are explosive, quick and crafty in their work. Add to that, they both prefer their left foot / hand. Griezmann can score it from outside the box, QDK can hit it out of the park. More importantly, both are proven winners in the prime of their careers.
Mitchell Starc (ST)
While Grizzmann / QDK swings it in from the corner, I need a taller striker who is known for his devastating aggressive style of play. In comes Mitchell Starc. Its no secret, Starc knows only one way to play and that does not include bowling any defensive lines or buying time to get his wickets. With a strike rate of 25 in ODI cricket and a handful or 5 for performances, I need Starc to be the pure striker he was born to be.
Comparisons: Diego Costa (Spain)
This was a pretty straight forward comparison. They’re both fast, tall, strong, aggressive and are not afraid to get in the face’s of their opposition. Most importantly they both show up on the big stages. Spain have relied on Costa so far this tournament, Starc was the player of the world cup in 2015.
Virat Kohli (CAM)
At center attacking midfield I need someone that can get some goals, but also distribute and set my team up. Arguably the most important position in the XI, I trust none other then Virat Kohli here. What makes Kohli most suitable for this position is his ability to dictate the pace of the game. I need Kohli to set the tone and turn in some match winning performances. Without a doubt, the best player in the XI.
Comparisons: Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium)
Like I mentioned earlier, the heartbeat of the team. KDV is probably the most important player on a team that is already stacked with so much talent. Similar to what Virat Kohli has with team India. How far Belgium go could well depend on KDV, again similar to what Kohli has gone through for most of his career. To add to this, none of them are lacking in confidence.
Hasan Ali (LM)
As a winger I need speed and someone that can chip in with a few goals throughout the season. Hasan Ali, the champion of the ICC Champions Trophy took the world by storm with his sheer pace and ability to get wickets in bunches. With a strike rate or 24 and a proven record on the biggest of stages, Ali fits in perfectly. He’s fast, accurate and can help make the midfield stronger throughout the world cup.
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Comparisons: Hirving Lozano (Mexico)
The man of the moment right now. He’s caused an upset, as has Ali in the Champions trophy. He’s quick and one of the best players on the international team. Like Ali, his pace on the field doesn’t seem to reduce even in the later stages of the game.
Jos Butler (RM)
I need a player that can dictate the game with his pace and striking ability. Jos Butler is known for his hard hitting and making an impact with his quick scoring. In addition, he plays with flair which is something else I need from my wing players. I need Butler to come into the game and do what he does best. Strike the ball and do it in an aggressive demeanor.
Comparisons: Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Mo Salah is coming off a historical run in his record breaking season with Liverpool. Butler is coming in with some serious form through his recent stint in the IPL, a man of the match performance against Pakistanand an unbelievable century to steal a victory for England against Australia. Both players have form on their sides.
Hashim Amla (CDM)
The central defensive midfielder is the backbone of my team. I need a player who can defend with my center backs as well as push forward and apply pressure on the other teams defenders. The perfect player for this position is none other then Hasim Amla. He has one of the best defenses in the current game but can also apply the pressure and take it to the opposition with his T20 style of batting. In addition, what makes him even more dangerous is his calm composure which is required for someone in his position.
Comparisons: N’Golo Kanté (France)
A solid midfielder whose defense makes him all the more valuable to both France and Chelsea. Kanté would also be considered one of the more important players on my team with his diverse skill set and composure under pressure.
Tom Latham (LB)
For my left and right backs I need players who can defend at a high level but can also get involved in helping out my mid fielders and strikers. Tom Latham fits this position well with his defensive ability to see out the new ball as well as apply the pressure with the bat when needed. Although not in the best form at the moment, I will be hoping for performances such as his 177 against Bangladesh where he won the man of the match, or more recently his 85 (in 207) balls where he showed his defensive technique in seeing out a much needed draw for New Zealand.
Comparisons: Jonas Hector (Germany)
Like Hector, I will be relying on Latham for his defense and the occasional contribution with the mid fielders and strikers. Similar to Hector, Latham might not be the most headlined member on the team but he is someone that can help my team with his solid defense.
Cheteshwar Pujara (CB)
At Center Back, I need a player with one of the best defenses out there. Whilst his form has been sketchy as of late, and he may struggle on foreign surfaces, Pujara has the reputation as one of the best defensive batsmen in the current game. Pujara at this point does not offer much more than his defensive style of play, this best expressed through his omission from the shorter formats of the cricket for a long time now. However, on the basis of his test record, I am counting on him to anchor my defense.
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Comparisons: Vincent Kompany (Belgium)
For this comparison I tried to find a defender who excels in that one facet of the game and lacks a well rounded game. Aside from their emphasis on defense, both players would be veterans in the team who might be past their prime at this stage of their careers.
Shai Hope (CB)
In a similar light to Pujara I have selected another player who excels in test cricket and has shown poise through his defense technique on several occasions. Although not as seasoned as Pujara, Shai Hope has been tremendous for the West Indies especially with his match winning performances against England where he navigated through the English bowling attack with a composed innings showing little weaknesses in his defense. Along with Pujara, the two center backs form a strong defensive line who could out bat most in todays game.
Comparisons: Medhi Benatia (Morocco)
Benatia is known for his defensive abilities and is highly in demand at the moment. With Hope also winning numerous awards for the West Indies recently, this comparison seems to make sense.
Shakib Al Hasan (RB)
You might not think of Shakib Al Hasan as a defensive batsmen due to his often aggressive style of batting, however his bowling is where his defensive qualities are really exemplified. His defense is illustrated best with his economy rate of just under 4.50 in ODI cricket and below 7 in T20 cricket. In the modern game those stats are amongst the best. I need my right back to not only defend but mix it up with my forwards. Shakib is one of the more multi skilled players in international cricket, and that makes him ideal for this position.
Comparisons: Dani Alves (Brazil)
Although missing this in action (which Shakib is all to familiar with), Alves can relate to Shakib Al Hasan with his aggressive and flamboyant style of play. In addition, Alves does have a life outside of football, having released a rap single whereas Hasan has once acted in a TV play. Both players have also been involved in controversies. They have been known to rub players the wrong way and be in the news for the wrong reasons. Both are highly talented, super confident and game winners.
MS Dhoni (GK)
A wicket keeper as goal keeper seems straight forward, and who better then MS Dhoni. Although not captain for the Indian team anymore, as goal keeper I need someone who can keep his composure and be quick on his feet. I wont be expecting the flamboyance which MSD shows with his helicopter shots whilst batting at the crease, but I will require him to be clever in his movements and setting up the defense during corners. One of the best tacticians the game has ever seen in regards to ODI cricket, MSD will be relied on to make a few saves a game and manage egos and overall team chemistry.
Comparisons: David de Gea (Spain)
There are not many goal keeper captains in the world cup this time around, however one of the best goal keepers, de Gea, is also the captain of the current Spanish team. In the conversation as one of the best goal keepers in the world cup at the moment, both his skillset and reputation match MS Dhoni’s.
Some of the other players which crossed my mind but just didn’t make the cut. This could have been due to me wanting to make the team as diverse as possible.
- Kane Williamson (CAM)
- Rohit Sharma (ST)
- Kagiso Rabada (ST)
- Trent Boult (LM)
- Rashid Khan (RM)
- Ravi Ashwin (LB)
- Royston Chase (RB)
- Tim Southee (RM)
- Tamim Iqbal (ST)
- Moenn Ali (CDM)
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