10 staggeringly indecent highlights and lowlights from the 2023 World Cup – featuring Rohit Sharma, Glenn Maxwell, Ravi Shastri + more

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There’s been a World Cup. Some things happened in it. Here are a few that we found ourselves thinking about a fair bit for one reason or another.

We’ve labelled this selection ‘indecent’ as a sort of broad, catch-all term that can be interpreted either positively or negatively. It’s essentially our usual mix of the good, the bad and the ridiculous. Sign up for the King Cricket email if that sort of three-way split is how you like to take your cricket.

Ballsiest batting – Rohit Sharma

Leading India, in India, when the expectation is that you’ll win the World Cup is not an easy gig. As an opening batter in that situation, there must be a temptation to score solid runs. Rohit Sharma never fell into that trap – but in a good way.

Did Rohit’s dragster starts buy Virat Kohli time to play more solidly? Did Kohli’s solidity give Rohit the necessary cushion to floor the accelerator from the off? A bit of both maybe. All we know is that with silly pressure on him, India’s captain was willing to canter towards pace bowlers and drill cover drives for six. No-one scored more runs at a higher strike-rate.

Most eye-catching squaring-off – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and whoever was fielding at point

After 80 against England and 65 against Pakistan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s scores tailed off a bit to the extent that four of his Afghanistan team-mates ended up with more runs in the tournament (all four at an average over 40).

It is Gurbaz we’ll remember though for his almost transcendental ability to hit fours that passed within inches of the point fielder. The bowler’s length didn’t much seem to matter to him. This was no one-shot thing. Cuts, scythes and front and back foot drives were all employed to dispatch the ball at more or less a 90 degree angle.

Most peculiar depiction of delight – Roelof van der Merwe

This is Roelof’s happy face after he’s taken a wicket. You wouldn’t like Roelof when he’s angry.

The face came during the Netherlands’ win over South Africa, which was one of the World Cup’s more dramatic results, even if it didn’t ultimately affect much in the grander scheme of things.

Finest justification for declining the opportunity to withdraw an appeal for timed-out – Shakib al Hasan

Shakib al Hasan has played a lot of cricket against Angelo Mathews over the years, so he at least heard the Sri Lankan out when he came over to explain what had happened with his helmet and to suggest that Bangladesh might like to retract the appeal for timed-out.

Shakib’s response? “I said, you know, I understand your situation. It was unfortunate. But I don’t want to.”

Most convincing mime of a man who has found himself unexpectedly consumed by an urgent necessity – Glenn Maxwell

Every now and again, halfway through an ‘easy’ single, a batter realises it could actually be a bit tighter than they initially thought and so they accelerate into a brisk jog for the last handful of steps just to be on the safe side.

This wasn’t so easy for the cramping Glenn Maxwell, midway through his 201 not out against Afghanistan. We were thus treated to the sight of an anguished, stiff-legged power walk that brought to mind nothing if not the panicked gait of a man rushing to the toilet when already touching cloth. The tension was palpable as Maxwell visibly weighed the need to accelerate against the odds of catastrophe for each and every step.

Most iconic pose – Glenn Maxwell

‘Iconic’ is one of the most pointlessly devalued words in sport, but we can’t recall a cricketer ever before adopting the toppled Han Solo action figure pose partway through a knock.

He made another 50-odd runs after being reduced to this.

Most ridiculous shot – Glenn Maxwell

Glenn Maxwell plays more than his fair share of ridiculous shots at the best of times but he didn’t really play any other kind against Afghanistan from that rushed-toilet-trip single onwards.

Our pick was when he shuffled round to face Azmatullah Omarzai square-on as the bowler was still running in and then reverse-wristed the ball for six with his feet utterly nailed to the spot. Quite how he got the distance is entirely beyond us. Physics be damned!

Worst reunion – England

“Being completely honest, I made the mistake of thinking that it will be all right when we get there and that’s not been the case,” explained Rob Key – which summed up England’s World Cup campaign pretty well.

England’s first team had played 50-over cricket together so infrequently, it wasn’t actually clear who should be in the XI. The resultant selectorial umming and ahhing then added a second layer of uncertainty. Getting the band back together did not work out.

Purest “oh no!” – Steve Smith

You don’t have to know much about Steve Smith to at least make a start on a list of his likes and dislikes. He likes batting and he dislikes not batting.

Playing a risky airborne shot is therefore also not to his taste and they don’t come much riskier than the one that resulted in his dismissal against South Africa in the semi-final. It was the kind of catastrophic vertical launch that SpaceX would have been proud of. Smith had the best seat in the house for take-off and he did not enjoy it.

Biggest performance – Ravi Shastri

“Coming up is one of the biggest heavyweight title clashes in recent times.” [Mimes a vicious right jab.]

“For the blues, in the blue corner… Rohit Sharma! For the men in yellow, in the yellow corner… Pat Cummins! Andy Pycroft – who has a job on his hands today – the match referee. And the toss rep, who will hand over the coin to Pycs.”

Yes, this was the coin toss. Only Ravi Shastri could bring such pure, visceral, booming gusto to ordinarily mundane pre-match formalities. A powerhouse performance and no mistake.


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  1. I do hope that when it comes to Ravi Shastri you used the word ‘indecent’ in the pejorative way it is meant to be used. The other examples, as you say, could be open to interpretation. But not this.

    1. As Australia struck the winning runs, fully silencing the then-nearly-empty NMS, Ravi exclaimed “and Australia win the cricket world cup in front of 120,000 people!” No, the absolutely did not do that. Love him otherwise though.

  2. Superb work – the kind of coverage you can’t get anywhere else.

    I enjoyed the Black Friday pop-up ad too. Well played.

  3. Ravi Shastri’s biggest achievement is hiding an incredible cricketing brain behind that clownish personality.

    Not many people can hit 11 test hundreds (including a double in Australia), take 4 or more wickets 13 times, be the most successful coach ever of a national team and still be remembered mainly for their love of drink and their booming clichés on commentary. Take a bow, Ravi!

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