India's preparations for the upcoming World Cup are set to take full effect in the new year when they play a 3-match ODI series against Australia after the completion of the grueling Test series. In the same way, numerous top cricketing nations like South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are currently playing Tests and are expected to resume white ball cricket in the new year.
The itineraries of all the teams next year are filled with multiple white-ball cricket assignments. This arrangement was planned by the respective cricket boards to ensure that their teams will have practice and game time before the all-important tournament.
The 2019 edition of the World Cup may be the final one for many legendary cricketers who are at the fag end of their careers.
We witnessed the retirement of greats like Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum and Michael Clarke after the culmination of 2015 World Cup. Likewise, this World Cup might turn out to be the last one for many renowned cricketers like Lasith Malinga, Ross Taylor, Imran Tahir, Faf du Plessis and Chris Gayle.
Here is a look at the 3 most high-profile cricketers who might bid adieu to ODI cricket after 2019 World Cup:
#3 Hashim Amla
Former South Africa skipper Hashim Amla has been one of the leading batsmen for the Proteas over the last decade. He has been a persistent run scorer for them across all the formats and in all conditions, both home and away.
So far he has played 169 ODI matches and scored 7696 runs at an astonishing average of 49.65 including 26 centuries and 36 half-centuries.
Amla currently holds the record for being the fastest batsman to have scored 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000 runs in ODI cricket.
He has participated in two World Cup tournaments so far in his career (2011 and 2015). He scored his career-best ODI score of 159 in the league match of the 2015 World Cup against Ireland.
Amla will be 40 years old by the time 2023 World Cup commences so it is safe to assume that he would not be around till that time. He will most probably bid adieu to ODI cricket after the culmination of the 2019 World Cup.
#2 Dale Steyn
Arguably the greatest fast bowler of this generation, Dale Steyn has been the spearhead of the South African bowling line-up for well over a decade. He recently became the highest Test wicket-taker for South Africa by overtaking Shaun Pollock's overall tally.
So far Steyn has played 121 ODI matches and picked up 192 wickets at an impressive average of 25.70, with 6/39 being his best bowling performance in an ODI. He has 3 five wicket hauls to his name in ODI cricket.
Steyn was out of action for a major part of the last three years due to injury issues. He recently made his much-awaited comeback into ODI cricket in a series against Zimbabwe in October. That was his first ODI appearance for South Africa in almost 2 years.
Before making his comeback to competitive cricket, Steyn clearly indicated that he intended to earn a place in the South African ODI side for the 2019 WC. That might well be his swansong in ODI cricket next year as he will be 36 years old by the end of the mega tournament.
#1 MS Dhoni
Former Indian captain MS Dhoni is going to participate in his 4th World Cup tournament next year, a feat achieved by very few cricketers in the history of cricket. He is the first and only captain to win a 50-over WC, T20 WC and Champions Trophy.
Dhoni has also won the IPL trophy 3 times with the CSK franchise. Due to all his accolades and achievements, he is regarded as the best-limited overs captain India has ever had.
So far Dhoni has played 332 ODI matches and scored 10173 runs at an astonishing average of 50.11 including 10 centuries and 67 half-centuries.
Though his finishing abilities are not at the same level as they were 5 years ago, Dhoni is expected to play a crucial role in the inexperienced Indian middle order during the WC next year. He is likely to play the anchor role and help the other batsmen to flourish at the other end.
The upcoming World Cup will in all probability be the last time we witness Dhoni represent India as he will be 38 by the end of the tournament.