Captaincy is more important in cricket than in any other sport. A captain's decisions play a major role in a team's success in any match or tournament. A sharp brain and a brave heart are essential for a leader as one mistake from him can cost the game. Over the years we have seen many legendary captains leading the team to greater heights.
It is every captain's dream to win a major international trophy, especially the ODI World Cup. Ricky Ponting is regarded as the most successful captain in history, leading Australia to glory in two consecutive Cricket World Cups and the Champions Trophy. India's MS Dhoni is closely following him with an ODI World Cup, a T20 World Cup and a Champions Trophy.
However, the cricket world has witnessed many captains who have been hugely successful in their careers but failed to get their hands on the ODI World Cup. Despite being consistent throughout the league stage, the team failed to make it past the knockout stage.
In this article let's take a look at 10 unlucky legendary captains who could not win the ODI World Cup.
1. Sourav Ganguly (India)
Sourav Ganguly has built a team from scratch and shaped it into a formidable unit. His aggressiveness and fearless approach took India to greater heights, including the 2002 Champions Trophy. The Men in Blue were in great form heading into the 2003 World Cup and they finished second in the group stage. They made it to the final but suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Australia by 125 runs in Johannesburg.
2. Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka)
Legendary wicketkeeper-batter Kumar Sangakkara led Sri Lanka brilliantly in the 2011 World Cup. The Lions' dream run was ended by India in the final as the home team clinched their second World Cup title with a six-wicket victory. Not only Sangakkara's captaincy but also his batting prowess was crucial in Lanka's successful campaign. With 465 runs at an average of 93 from 9 matches, the southpaw was third in the list of highest run-scorers.
3. Graeme Smith (South Africa)
Graeme Smith is regarded as one of the finest captains and opening batters in the history of South African cricket. He led South Africa in the 2007 World Cup and the team performed well in the league stage. However, in the semi-final, they lost the battle to Australia by 7 wickets.
4. Shahid Afridi (Pakistan)
Under Shahid Afridi's leadership, Pakistan had a dream run in the 2011 World Cup. Their surge, however, was halted by arch-rivals India in the semi-final. The Men in Blue registered a 29-run win in Mohali. Following the tournament, Afridi was removed as ODI captain and in 2015, he retired from the format.
5. Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
Brendon McCullum's New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup was a dominant force. They gave South Africa a heartbreak in the semi-finals but were defeated by tournament hosts Australia in the summit clash. Notably, McCullum had a poor outing with the bat and went for a duck in the final.
6. AB de Villiers (South Africa)
South Africa entered the 2015 World Cup as one of the favourites to win. Under AB de Villiers, captaincy the Proteas qualified for the semi-finals, but lost to New Zealand in the crucial match. The heartbreaking scenes at Auckland's Eden Park are still etched in the hearts of cricket fans. De Villiers finished the tournament as the third-highest run-scorer with 482 runs.
7. Rohit Sharma (India)
"He's probably the unluckiest man in the world". These are the words of Travis Head, the Player of the Match in the 2023 World Cup final. Rohit Sharma led Mumbai Indians to victory five times. It was imperative for him to prove his captaincy in the international arena. Under his captaincy, India had a tremendous campaign but it came to an abrupt end in the final as Australia lifted their sixth championship. Rohit's captaincy and batting prowess were crucial in India's successful campaign. He finished as second highest run scorer with 597 runs at an average of 54.27 and a strike rate of 125.95.