Cricket World Cup

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I wanted India to win, and things weren’t looking good. It was the 23rd March 2003 and Australia had amassed over 350 runs in their innings, mainly thanks to Ricky Ponting getting 140 runs himself. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, India had thrown a ball at various Australians holding a bat and done this around 300 times, and the Australians had made a phenomenal total of over 350 ‘runs’ by running between two wickets or hitting the ball a long, long way. I can’t really get any more condescending so if you still don’t understand have a read of the rules. Then it was India’s turn to bat. They had to make over 250 runs off 200 balls as well, otherwise they would lose. We would lose. After an hours break, India took up batting and immediately collapsed. Sachin Tendulkar, a demigod in India was bowled out after 15 minutes meaning his participation in the game was over. Other batsmen slowly crumbled until all were out and we were hundreds of runs behind Australia.

We had lost. Miserably. To an astonishing display of skill and talent from one of the best sides ever to play cricket.

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.

George Orwell

I’m pleased to report that cricket is a gentleman’s game. It’s hard to believe a slow-moving sport like cricket can raise passions like it does, but if you’ve ever seen a match between India and Pakistan you’ll realise spirits rise higher than they do in football, soccer, baseball or ice hockey. The difference is that the fans are the ones who get worked up: if India loses a match against its arch-nemesis, Pakistan then you can expect near riots or maybe even a pitch invasion or two.

Yes, the rumours are true: cricket is a dull sport. Sometimes, that is. The popular belief is that “games can go on for weeks and still finish in a draw” – that’s true, but most games are exciting matches which are fantastic exhibitions of skill. The matches that drag on are called Test Matches, and they consist of a number of matches, which decide the outcome of the ‘Test’ itself. There are only a small number of test playing nations: England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan - and these are generally considered to be the best cricket playing nations in the world as well (although Kenya is developing as a good team). Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with test matches but they can get dull because the outcome is often decided very slowly taking much of the tension out of the game.

The Cricket World Cup, however, is all about the one-day international matches: These are matches where two countries go head to head, and they last only one day (usually taking about 8 hours including all breaks and stuff). Each time has 50 ‘overs’ (each ‘over’ is 6 balls meaning each team has the chance to face 300 balls) and they get 11 batsmen. A team finishes its batting spell after all the batsmen are ‘out’ or the 200 balls are up. It’s really as simple as that. Yet each match is unique and each player is unique, and the Cricket World Cup is the biggest cricket event in the sport. It started in 1975 when it was sponsored by Prudential and took place in England.


The 1975 Cricket World Cup was known as the Prudential World Cup, and it was held in rainy England. The hosts turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, really, since they went out in the semi-finals against Australia. The highest score in that tournament was 334-4 by England against India at Lord's but it is worth noting that the match was 60 overs (I didn’t know that, but clearly matches haven’t always been 50 overs long – apparently this only changed after the 1975 Cup). Sri Lanka and East Africa had joined the test-playing nations, and by amazing chance there was no rain in the usually soaking country where I have the privilege of living. The West Indies were the eventual champions – they beat Australia with batsman Clive Lloyd getting 102 and ultimately helping the Aussies to a 17 run victory.


The 1979 Cricket World Cup was held in England again (don’t ask why, maybe they liked it so much the first time) – this time, we weren’t so lucky with the weather, and rain hounded the tournament particularly affecting one of the matches between Sri Lanka and India, which took over three days to finish (with Sri Lanka taking the honours). The final was England against the West Indies. Viv Richards managed an astonishing 138 not out and the West Indies unsurprisingly retained their title at Lord’s where England had at one point been 183 for 2 but then collapsed to 194 all out. Perhaps things would have been different if they had held on to some wickets, but for now the Windies stamped their authority all over cricket for the second year in succession


This World Cup was held in … England. Yes, for the third time in a row my miserable, rain soaked, tiny nation played host to the finest cricket players in the world This tournament was perhaps important for me (despite the fact that I wasn’t even born) because India finally came into their own and took on the might of the West Indies. This Word Cup is famous in India for various reasons: firstly India managed to get to the final where fans were treated to one of the greatest innings ever to have been played out. Kapil Dev, the best Indian cricketer of the time (and in the history of the sport, no doubt) managed 175 not out (put that against Ponting’s 2003 total of 140) against Zimbabwe, although the footage of this feat was lost when the channel covering the match, the BBC, decided to go on strike. Later in the tournament India played the West Indies where they won convincingly – I’ve gone on to a little more detail below seeing as my country won…

India v West Indies
Date: 25 June 1983
Result: India won by 43 runs
India: 183 all out (54.4 overs)
West Indies: 140 all out (52 overs)

Man of the match:
Mohinder Amarnath

Lord’s had a sell-out crowd on the day of the final and going on the last two World Cups, most predicted a West Indies victory with Clive Lloyd performing wonders again (helping the Windies to what would have been a World Cup hatrick): earlier in the tournament the West Indies had had a bit of a scare when they lost their first ever World Cup match to India (following 10 successive wins) – this defeat was a sign of things to come.

Lloyd won the toss and the West Indies elected to field first. Sunil Gavaskar, an India batsman was shockingly dismissed when India had managed only 2 runs. Things were downhill from there: they batsmen never really got their groove on and India were all out with a fairly poor 183 runs. The run rate for the Windies was around 3 so no one was really worried. Gordon Greenidge lost his wicket early but still, no one was worried. Then the bowlers struck, and India found some kind of inspiration, - out of the blue, Madan Lal (an Indian bowler) suddenly got going and India dismissed Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Larry Gomes and things were looking completely different.

The West Indies were on 50 for 1.

The West Indies were now on 76 for 5. Malcolm Marshall began batting fairly well but it was to no avail: Mohinder Amarnath, another Indian bowler and eventual man of the match started bowling like a man possessed. With his third wicket he dismissed the last of the West Indies batsmen winning the match for India. Here are the words of Roger Binny who was a bowler in the Indian side:

It was really hysterical and you had to be there to believe it. People were lining the streets, throwing money, flowers and greetings into our bus. This World Cup really changed the face of Indian cricket.



This World Cup was held in India (about time) and to be honest, there was nothing special that marked it out as a spectacular tournament apart from some poor play. The final was contested between England and Australia and held in Calcutta. Dean Jones played for Australia, the eventual winners and he wrote this for BBC News a while later:

It was all a bit of an anti-climax really.

At the end of the game we did a lap of honour and I'll never forget that.

Fireworks were going off in the stands and it was like a scene out of a movie. But we were so exhausted that Boony and I were in bed by 8pm.

We didn't get a thing from the ACB. No bonus, dinner or medal. Now the players get World Cup rings but we didn't get a thing.

The final was an interesting affair with England throwing away the chance to take home their first World Cup. Mike Gatting, and English batsmen, tried an ambitious shot – a reverse sweep – but Allan Border who was a fantastic Australian bowler managed to get the stumps leaving England with egg on their faces. Initially, Australia had won the toss and elected to bat – making a solid total and a fast start: Phil DeFreitas and Gladstone Small both played very well but David Boon really did well getting 75 runs quickly. Allan Border and Mike Veletta also did well and Australia finished off with 254 runs, which is a very, very good total and almost always enough for victory.

Tim Robinson was dismissed for England within the first over, but then the English batsmen began to do better and Graham Gooch, Bill Athey, Mike Gatting and Allan Lamb all did very well making a decent amount of runs and responding well to a daunting total – many thought the match was a foregone conclusion once the Australian innings was complete, but the English fought back. However it began to go pear-shaped from there, with both captains facing each other at the crease –Allan Border bought himself on to bowl and then came Gatting’s reverse-sweep. It went to Greg Dyer, the wicket keeper and Gatting was out. The batting slipped from there. They managed an impressive 9 runs from the last over, but they were still short by 7 runs for victory. All in all, this was a very disappointing World Cup for England simply because the final was so close, but then again, I’m biased.


The 1992 Cricket World Cup was held in Australia and New Zealand and notable for the Pakistani team’s brilliance. Imran Khan was the captain at that time and he led the team to the final where they duly beat England who were by this time getting really pissed off having lost all three chances to become World Champions. (OK, why don’t you try to come up with non-random pipelinks for a cricket node? Believe me, it’s tough). This World Cup was notable for the introduction of brightly coloured kits for the countries.

The champions Australia hadn’t managed to get to the final, but the MCG welcomed a crown of over 85,000 people – a stunning attendance for a cricket match. Derek Pringle's bowling for England managed to take the first two Pakistani wickets quickly and his medium pace style was paying off. However when Imran Khan came in to bat the team began to make a turnaround, and Khan and Javed Miandad managed a partnership on the third wicket that reached 139 runs. Inzamam-ul-Haq then finished off the Pakistani innings with a stunning performance (he still plays by the way) when he scored 42 runs off only 35 balls with Wasim Akram joining in the fun, getting a quick fire 33 runs off only 19 balls.

When the English began to bat, Wasim Akram got Pakistan off to a great start: he dismissed Ian Botham for a duck (when a batsman is dismissed for no runs) Akram went on to finish off Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis (in consecutive balls). England were left floundering with an extremely poor 141 for six – the required run rate was slowly rising, and the match was left too far out of their hands.


This one was held in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and was pretty exciting. One particularly strange incident was when India lost the semi-final, losing to eventual champions Sri Lanka – the match was awarded to Sri Lanka after the Calcutta crowd ran onto the pitch. With the Indian score at 120 for 8, the umpire, Sir Clive Lloyd took not of the ugly scenes and the missiles being thrown, and decided to award the match to Sri Lanka.

The final was a very fast paced and exciting match played between Sri Lanka and Australia in Lahore. Sanath Jayasuriya, the Sri Lankan bowler was playing some of the best cricket of his career at the time and things were looking good: their strategy in all the previous was to play aggressively in the first 15 overs to build a solid total quickly, and then relax. Arjuna Ranatunga won the toss and elected to bowl first, putting Australia in – statistically, this was a good decision since the team batting first had won all the previous five finals.

Australia reached 137 for one by the 27th over thanks to Mark Taylor’s impressive batting and some excellent stroke play. Then Sri Lanka’s fielding improved and some aggressive fielding and tight bowling began to choke off the runs for the Aussies. Their final score was 241 runs. In Sri Lanka’s innings, the two opening batsmen were quickly dismissed after nothing up only 23 runs. The situation wasn’t looking good until Aravinda de Silva, the eventual man of the match began to bat like a man possessed. He had taken three wickets already, but then he managed a century and along with Asanka Gurusinha and Ranatunga (the captain) helped to get a stunning win for the Sri Lankans.

Another highlight of this tournament was watching the England player Neil Smith throw up – while batting against the UAE! Interestingly, he retired (from the game that is, not from cricket) and was still chosen as man of the match. He eventually blamed the vomiting on an odd pizza (what do you expect in India or Pakistan? Have a curry instead).


This, apart from the 2003 World Cup, is the only one I can actually remember personally. It was held in England (but despite this I never went to see any matches – I was never interested in cricket at the time). England were eliminated in the opening stages (that was the first time that had happened) and the highlight of the tournament was the semi-final between Australia and South Africa. I think with 4 balls left South Africa needed only 1 run – 1 RUN! – to win. Lance Kluesner, a fantastic player, was batting so things looked good. However some good bowling and tight fielding meant that Kluesner went for the run after hitting a weak shot and there was a sensational mix up with his batting partner – they tried to run back but the Australians stumped them. The match ended in a draw, and Australia went through to the final. I can distinctly remember watching that (the semi-final) at home, it was an exhilarating match with some stunning cricket courtesy of Shane Warne (the fat guy, recently sent home from the 2003 Cricket World Cup for use of an illegal/controlled substance), Steve Waugh and all the other players.

In the final the Aussies played Pakistan where Pakistan were convincingly whipped. 1983 was the last time that Lord’s hosted a final, and 16 years later we got another fantastic match. Pakistan had played well throughout the 1999 tournament but stuttered at crucial moments and never looked like world champions. Interestingly, this was the shortest final ever considering it finished in around 4 and a half hours. Pakistan captain Wasim Akram won the toss and elected to bat but this was terrible decision - Wajahatullah Wasti was dismissed in the fifth over and after that all the batsmen were quickly dismissed well.

What’s really funny is that the top scorer for Pakistan was ‘extras’ which means the total from no balls, wides (e.g. ineligible balls that count as one run) was higher than the total of any one batsmen. There were 25 extras and the Pakistani innings lasted a pathetic 39 overs. Shane Warne finished with four wickets, and all of the Australian bowlers got at least one. Then in Australia’s innings Adam Gilchrist managed his half-century off only 33 balls – the Aussies ended up needing only 121 balls to reach the 133 runs needed for victory. It was a cake walk and Pakistan was appallingly bad.


Well I’ve pretty much described this one at the top, but it was painful for all the Indians out there. The 2003 Cricket World Cup was held in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and was notable for a number of things:

  • England for a start refused to play their match in Zimbabwe because of security concerns (but really because of the dictator Robert Mugabe). They were docked points and given a slap on the wrists by the ICC for this breach of rules (the newspapers had been going crazy for the previous months speculating whether they would or wouldn’t go, and whether this was right or wrong).
  • Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, two Zimbabwe players protested against president Mugabe by wearing black armbands protesting the death of democracy in their country. They were fined and Olonga (notably the black one of the two) was dropped from the side. Both have now had their careers effectively ended by this move that angered the Zimbabwean cricketing authorities who tried to charge them with bringing the game into disrepute. Most of the world supported the two in their plight, which was extremely brave. See the node Statement by Henry Olonga and Andy Flower.
  • Sachin Tendulkar was so, so unlucky. All right, he won the player of the tournament award but he missed out on three centuries (close to 100 in three matches, that is) and was so disappointingly dismissed for four runs in the final. It could have been so much more. His 98 against Pakistan was stunning, and illustrated in no uncertain terms why he is considered the finest batsmen on the planet at the moment, and one of the greatest of all time.
  • Other things that happened include Shane Warne getting sent home for taking a controlled substance (a diuretic pill, which BrianShader tells me is "Not illegal in itself but sometimes used to flush banned substances from the body, so indeed controlled), Nasser Hussain quit as England’s one day captain, Waquar Younis was sacked as Pakistan’s captain and the Pakistani team was fined half their wages for crap performances and an early exit, and India won against Pakistan!!

On the day of India’s semi-final against Kenyan I took a day of school and stayed at home to watch the match (I wasn’t feeling terribly well anyway), which was a thoroughly one sided affair. The India – Australia final was incredibly exciting news. A host of family members and friends came to my house to watch the match on that nice Mr. Murdoch’s Sky Sports. Having beaten Pakistan easily, the main objective of the Indian team had been accomplished and the final was a great bonus – Tendulkar was on fine form and Ganguly was racking up the centuries. When the time came, it all proved too difficult though – slowly, very slowly, the game slipped further and further away from India’s grasp. Every stroke of Ponting’s bat, every poor full toss from Srinath was felt by all the Indian fans who lost not like in a football game, in one fell swoop, but painfully slowly.

Please see Albert Herring’s excellent node for more information on the 2003 Cricket World Cup, though –there’s no point going over what’s already on the database.