Sangakkara and AB de Villiers

Cricket World Cup History: The greatest XI that never won the World cup

The ultimate goal of any cricketer who represents their country at the highest level is to get their hands on the coveted ICC World Cup trophy for at least once in their career. In 1975 when the World Cup first began, the aura was still around test cricket and no one was sure whether the tournament will become a success. 11 editions and 44 years later, the 50 over World Cup has undoubtedly become the most popular and fiercely contested competition in cricket.


In those 44 years, this game has given birth to many legendary players who have stunned the fans with their awe-inspiring performances at the World Cup. In spite of all their effort, some great cricketers have been unable to lift the World Cup in their career.

Here is a team consisting of the eleven best players to have never won a World Cup:

#1 Openers: Sourav Ganguly (C) and Tillakaratne Dilshan

Ganguly and Dilshan

India’s most prolific opener Sourav Ganguly almost won a World Cup in 2003 when India finished runners-up after a humiliating defeat to Australia in the final of the 2003 World Cup. He was also selfless in his decision making as he conceded his opening spot to Virender Sehwag keeping the needs of the team in mind. He scored 3 centuries in the 2003 edition and finished as the 2nd highest run scorer behind Sachin Tendulkar.

Innings: 21 Runs: 1006 Average: 55.88 Strike Rate: 77.50

The swashbuckling opener from Sri Lanka was at the peak of his powers during the 2011 World Cup and finished as the highest run scorer with 500 runs at an average of 62.50. Tillakaratne Dilshan scored centuries against Zimbabwe and England in that World Cup and was instrumental in getting his team off to a blistering start. He continued his fine form in the 2015 World Cup and scored 395 runs at an average of 65.83.


Innings : 25 Runs : 1112 Average : 52.95 Strike rate : 92.97

Also read - Highest batting average in world cup

#2 Middle Order: Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Brian Lara, and AB de Villiers

Brian Lara

When it comes to monumental achievements in the history of ODI cricket, Kumar Sangakkara’s heroics with the bat in the 2015 World Cup will be very difficult to match. He was a different beast altogether as he stunned the world with 4 consecutive centuries and broke many records in the process. He finished that World Cup as the second highest run-getter at a staggering average of 108.20.

Innings: 35 Runs: 1532 Average: 56.74 Strike rate: 86.55

Even though Brian Lara was exceptional with the bat in almost every edition he played, the teams which he had were never the favourites to win the World Cup. He has represented his country in four World Cup events and has two centuries to his name. His best knock came against South Africa at Newlands in 2003 when he scored 116 against the hosts.

Innings: 33 Runs: 1225 Average: 42.24 Strike rate: 86.26


All the batsmen in this list are run machines but what sets AB de Villiers apart from all others is his ability to change the entire game in a matter of few deliveries. His 162* off 66 balls in the 2015 edition against West Indies is undoubtedly the most destructive knock in the history of this tournament.

Innings: 22 Runs: 1207 Average: 63.52 Strike rate: 117.29

#3 All-rounders: Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusner

1999 South Africa World cup team

The greatest all-rounder in the history of this tournament never won the World Cup mainly due to his team’s tendency to choke during crunch moments. Whenever his team needed him, Jacques Kallis always stood up either with the bat or the ball and was also a terrific slip fielder. His only century came against the Netherlands in the 2007 edition.

Runs: 1148 Average: 45.92 Wickets: 21 Economy: 4.28

The most valuable player of the World Cup 1999 was Lance Klusener as he won many games with his splendid ball striking ability. He also picked up wickets at crucial moments of the game and has 5 Player of the Match awards to his name. He almost won a World cup for them in 1999. Klusner is one of the few players to win the man of the series from a losing side in a Wolrd cup.


Runs: 372 Average: 124 Wickets: 22 Economy: 4.83

#4 Spinners: Daniel Vettori and Anil Kumble

Daniel Vettori

Daniel Vettori represented New Zealand in four World Cup tournaments and captained his side in the 2007 edition. His biggest strength was his stump-to-stump bowling and his ability to pick up wickets in the middle overs. His best bowling figures of 4/18 came against Afghanistan in 2015. He took 15 wickets in 2015 edition when New Zeland reached finals. It was the most wickets take by a spinner in that World cup.

Wickets: 36 Average: 32.44 Strike Rate: 46.92 Economy: 4.15

Anil Kumble has represented India in four World cups from 1996 to 2007. However, legendary spinner not got many opportunities in his last world cups. The lanky legspinner was the lynchpin of the Indian bowling attack throughout his career and controlled the flow of runs with his guile and consistency. His best spell of 4/32 came against the Netherlands in the 2003 edition.

Wickets: 31 Average: 22.84 Strike Rate: 33.52 Economy: 4.09

#5 Fast Bowlers: Allan Donald and Javagal Srinath

Javagal Srinath

One of the most feared bowlers of his era, Allan Donald was simply unstoppable at his best. His best spell came in the 1999 edition against hosts England as he ripped apart their batting order and registered figures of 4/17. The players who represented South Africa in 1999 Wolrd cup must be feeling un-lucky as their closest chance to win the mega event came in this edition.

Wickets: 38 Average: 24.03 Strike Rate: 34.55 Economy: 4.17

Javagal Srinath played for India in four world cups from 1992 to 1996. He has formed a formidable partnership with Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan in the 2003 edition that played a vital part in India’s run to the finals of the tournament. He picked up 2 four-wicket hauls in that tournament and finished as the 2nd highest wicket-taker for India. It would have been a fitting farewell for the legendary fast bowler if India had won the 2003 Wolrd cup.

Wickets: 44 Average: 27.81 Strike Rate: 38.6 Economy: 4.32

Edited by
Satvik Pandey
See more
More from Sportskeeda