Since the inaugural event in 1975, the cricket World Cup has remained the yardstick that separates great players from legends. While few have succeeded to hold the coveted trophy aloft, even the chance to represent their country in the World Cup is held in high regard, as proved by players desperately fighting fitness battles to make it to the squad and veterans extending their career in the hope to see their dreams fulfilled. For some, the 2015 World Cup will be their last to either to touch the trophy for the first time or cement their legacy in the pages of history. Here is a look at some of the biggest players who will be making their last appearance on cricket’s biggest stage.
(1) Daniel Vettori, 36 (NZ) : The 2015 edition will be the last chance, and possibly the best, for the legendary Kiwi spinner, who pushed back his retirement, to lift the title. Playing at home and touted as one of the favourites, this will be the perfect chance for the 36-year-old bespectacled spinner, who is the most capped ODI player for his country, to add the final spin to his career.
(2) Chris Gayle, 35 (WI) : One of the most destructive batsmen in the world, by virtue of his sheer power, Chris Gayle has been one of the shining stars in a West Indian side that has fallen by the wayside following their reign as one of the best teams in the world. With the left-hander struggling with back injuries and niggles in the recent past, this edition of the quadrennial event will be the last chance for the 35-year-old to win the ‘big one’.
(3) MS DHONI, 33 (IND) : The most successful Indian captain will be out on the field to defend the World Cup title with a firm knowledge that this might just be his last swansong at the cricket’s biggest stage. One of the most prolific wicketkeeper-batsman of his era, Dhoni, who shocked the country with his abrupt Test retirement, will be definitely out to carve his name out in stone at the echelons of Indian cricket as the only Indian captain to win the World Cup twice.
(4) Misbah-ul-Haq, 40 (PAK) : Following a drawn-out battle against naysayers, the Australian-New Zealand event will be the final one for the batsman who has struggled of late to produce runs from his ever dependable willow. A stalwart for his country, in all forms of the game, the experienced star knows and has what it takes to shine in when the spotlight is on. And with calls rising over his captaincy, the 40-year-old will be keen to walk away from the World Cup with a perfect statement.
(5) Shahid Afridi, 34 (PAK) : With a career spanning almost 19 years, Afridi has been around the blocks a few times. Entering his 5th World Cup, the aggressive batsman is yet to taste success in the tournament having come close in the last edition where they were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual champions India. And the 34-year-old, nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’, will be looking to end his time at the crease with a bang.
(6) Tillakaratne Dilshan, 38 (SL) : This edition will be the last one for the Sri Lankan opener. At 38, the aggressive batsman has been performing well with the bat but is no longer at his prime and another chance to bag the title looks too far. Having lost out in the final in the last edition, the inventor of ‘Dilscoop’ will be looking to make it a memorable exit from cricket’s biggest stage.
(7) Michael Clarke, 33 (AUS) : Perhaps the reason why the Australian captain is working so hard to prove his fitness before the showpiece event is the knowledge that this World Cup will be his last. Having fought back injuries in the latter part of his career, for the affable Aussie, who even said he might never play again after his last injury set-back during the Test series against India, this is his last chance to lead his side to glory in their own backyard.
(8) Mitchell Johnson, 33 (AUS) : Having ripped apart England during their last Ashes series, the fearsome fast bowler will be playing his last World Cup. At 33, Johnson has reached the peak of his bowling prowess as his speed, control and consistency has reached the level that is considered pre-requisite for an Australian strike bowler. Leading the line, the quickie will be looking for a triumph at home when he lines up his prey.
(9) Mahela Jayawardane, 37 (SL) : Not since 1996 has Sri Lanka managed to take the World Cup title and its not for lack of trying. Having played a starring role in both the last two editions which saw Sri Lanka lose in the final against Australia and India respectively, Jayawardane has a close relationship with the heartbreak of falling just short of success. And the dapper stalwart of Sri Lankan cricket will be looking to take them all the way this time around. Who knows ? Maybe, 3rd time lucky.
(10) Kumar Sangakkara, 37 (SL) : Another of Sri Lanka’s batting cornerstones set to play in his last edition of the showpiece event. A steady number three for years, the 37-year-old was the highest scorer in 2014 and has been in sublime form in the buildup to the tournament. The stylish and reliable left-hander will be looking to end his career with a flourish.