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Toppers, duffers, can-do-betters – the World Cup report cards are out

Australia are annoying teacher’s pets again, India get gold stars for effort, England look for a place to hide their report cards

Andrew Fidel Fernando

What? Beaten by Afghanistan? Surely it’s only going to get better from here…  Getty Images

Gather round children. World Cup term is out. Hey, Sri Lanka and Pakistan! How many times do I have to tell you to keep quiet in the back? Do you want to be suspended? Sri Lanka, don’t you dare answer that.

Where was I? Yes, you’ve played all your matches. Some of you I’m very proud of. Some of you must already know you can do better. Come up one by one in alphabetical order and get your report cards.


Place: Sixth

Teacher’s remarks: You cuties. You did so well! And you did so well without upsetting the regular balance of things, by which I mean not winning against India and Australia and thereby putting earnings at risk. Your plucky run through the tournament was as inspiring as watching the rebels in Star Wars. That is, if the rebels did not have Princess Leia or any other female generals or women fighters involved in any way.

Best work: Beating England to not only set your campaign on a good run, but also trip them down a set of stairs they would continue to tumble down to the amusement of many.

Worst work: Giving away 201 runs to Glenn Maxwell, whose body was so lifeless it looked like every shot was a spasm powered by defibrillator shock.


Place: First

Remarks: You did your best to sabotage yourselves. You lost your first two games and were bottom of the table. You fell off golf carts and gave yourself concussion. One of you had a broken hand for half the tournament. And then you came first, yet again. No one can figure out how you keep doing this.

Best work: Your captain getting the wicket of Virat Kohli and turning that final.

Worst work: Your captain saying he was “sad to see” England’s downfall at this World Cup, when we all know he very much was not sad.

Next time maybe just give Australia the trophy at the start of the tournament  ICC/Getty Images


Place: Eighth

Remarks: Never got close to the top spots, as usual. But created a lot of drama, as usual. Full marks for consistency.

Best work: Your captain delivering a consoling shoulder tap to the batter he’d just appealed to have timed-out, then going on to win that game and acting like the whole thing was nothing.

Worst work: Everything else.


Place: Seventh

Remarks: Strutted in like big dogs, with big attitudes and major expectations. Then proceeded to crap your pants pretty much all the way through the competition. Gross. Don’t see me after class.

Best work: Beating Netherlands by 160. You rock stars.

Worst work: Choosing to bat first when you won the toss against Pakistan, when they had a tiny chance of qualifying for the semis but only if they batted first. As if tanking your own campaign wasn’t enough.


Place: Second

Remarks: The best student through the course of the term, ticking all the achievement boxes, sometimes embarrassing the other students with how much better you are than them across all subjects. There were times when it felt like your dad was doing your homework for you, but he’s the main donor to this school, and who am I to dock points? Yes, you stumbled in the final, but note that I am still giving you a special 10/10 perfect score. Actually 100/10. And all the stickers you want from the gold star sticker book. Plus free fruit juices for all of next term. If it were up to me, you’d be first place forever. I would have redone the final. Please tell your dad I don’t want to lose my job.

Best work: Beating Pakistan in a stadium of 250,000 at least, surely. Jai Hind.

Worst work: If you’d had Hardik Pandya you’d have smashed the final too, wow what a shame, don’t be sad, here are more stickers.

Déja boo: South Africa have seen this somewhere before  ICC/Getty Images


Place: Tenth

Remarks: You did not just make up the numbers. You were a valued member of this class. It doesn’t matter to us that you’re from humble backgrounds. The memories you created will stay with all of those who watched this World… See you when we see you and good luck with your life otherwise.

Best work: Beating South Africa.

Worst work: Would have been really fun if you beat England too, but you didn’t quite manage it.

New Zealand

Place: Fourth

Remarks: Yes, you’re all so glad for the opportunity to be here, and this country is such a wonderful place to play cricket, plus the fans are so passionate, and the sky is such a beautiful colour today, but would it kill you to have more to your collective personality beyond being nice?

Best work: Rachin Ravindra’s hair.

Worst work: Rachin Ravindra telling the world his first name was a mix of Rahul (Dravid) and Sachin (Tendulkar), until his dad said it was “nothing of the sort”, proving that if you’re of South Asian descent it doesn’t matter if you’ve made the most runs ever for a World Cup debutant, your parents are still going to somehow find a way to shame you in public.


Place: Fifth

Remarks: You really need to stop living in 1992. We went through this in the last World Cup. Sometimes losing a lot is not a prerequisite to not losing, and is just a sign that more losing is about to come.

Best work: Announcing your major captaincy reshuffle while the rest of the world was focused on the World Cup knockouts.

Worst work: Some of your World Cup showings didn’t cover themselves in glory.

Tissues are now a mandatory kit-bag item for South Africa in World Cups  Getty Images

South Africa

Place: Third (kinda)

Remarks: You didn’t do what everyone expected you to do. But you also didn’t quite blow those expectations out of the water. But, okay, sure. In four more years. I agree, for sure, you have some young players with promise. Next World Cup, absolutely. You’re gonna crush it then. Not a doubt in my mind. Keep believing, etc.

Best work: Not choking in the semi-final and just losing it despite your best efforts.

Worst work: Not being good enough to even get into a position in the semi-final for choking to be an option.

Sri Lanka

Place: Ninth

Remarks: No matter how bad your playing XI is, it will never be as bad as your administration. But man, has your playing XI sucked.

Best work: Beating England. Very least you could do. But nice.

Worst work: Your administrators asking for the ICC to suspend their own board after the Sri Lankan courts gave a stay order ousting the interim committee that replaced the board for roughly 24 hours, off the back of you crashing out of the World Cup and out of the 2024 Champions Trophy.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

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