Ah cricket, the gentleman’s game! The game between two competitive opponents reminds one of another similar card game called baccarat. Much like card games, cricket has its fair share of run ins with lady luck, who shows her ugly yet beautiful countenance occasionally, leaving both players and audiences grasping with their inability to come to terms with reality. And while we agree the struggle is real, it will be remiss not to discuss some of these moments in cricketing world cup history.
1) Gigantic targets anyone?
The nation of South Africa has a fair share of heart breaks in World Cup history. In its very first entry into the cricket world cup in 1992, it managed to reach the semi-finals, impressively, where it faced England. And they almost won too, with just 22 runs needed off 13 deliveries. However, as luck would have it, it rained, and although the delay was for just 10 minutes, the broadcasting channels having announced that the match would be postponed, it was. Here’s the tricky part though. This was ages before the Duckworth Lewis method was in use, and instead the world cup used a method called Most Productive Overs being used instead, where the 2 most under productive overs of the opponent team being dropped to calculate the run chase to be done for the following day. By this method, South Africa would have to score 21 runs but only from a single delivery, which Brian McMillan hit for a single. One wonders what would have been the outcome of the finals of the 1992 world cup if it just had not rained.
2) Drop a catch, man:
Is it legitimate cricket tactic to voluntarily mis field or not take a wicket, just because you know the batsman is underperforming? One could argue for it, but it’s been tested, and it probably works. For the world cup 1979, West Indies managed to reach the finals, after already winning the previous iteration, where it faced England.
They managed an impressive 286 for 9, owing to Vivian Richards and Collis King. When it was England’s turn at the wicket, they pitched 2 sluggish openers, Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley, who made steady progress by scoring 79-0 till tea, after 25 overs. Shortly thereafter, Boycott spooned the ball to mid-on, but the fielder, Clive Lloyd dropped the catch. This implied that England’s slow-paced openers stuck to the crease for a much longer time, and their heavy hitting middle order took a long time to come in. Over time, England was unable to fulfil their run chase. While this sounds as dramatic and adrenaline-rich as a good game of baccarat at 10Cric, the desperation of the English middle order for runs cost them a lot, and gave Indies the match by 92 runs. A good win for Indies, and a loss for England and racism in the 70s.
3) Politics everywhere:
The 2003 World Cup was jointly hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya but social and political unrest in Zimbabwe lent a slightly strange atmosphere to the tournament. Zimbabwe had been under Robert Mugabe’s oppressive regime, and thus faced a lot of protests and denouncements from several people. Henry Olonga and Andy Flower were 2 such people, who, by releasing a statement to journalists denouncing the “death of democracy” in their homeland, and taking to the field while wearing black armbands, showed their staunch protest Mugabe. As expected, this led to both, not just being expelled from their cricket careers, but also exiled from their nations. However, death threats prior to their next match against England in Harare, implied that the ECB refused a fixture, and the Chevrons were awarded a walkover. While England beat the Netherlands, Namibia and Pakistan, the four points awarded to Zimbabwe saw them qualify ahead of England by two points.
4) Never save for later:
Australia made it to the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup, after underwhelming performance overall, facing off against South Africa. With another underwhelming batting, they managed a meagre 213, lower than any score South Africa had previously chased. While South Africa was in a tense place with 61-4, a beautiful partnership by Jacques Kallis and Jonty Rhodes managed to keep them afloat. However, after they were dismissed, another collapse happened, till South Africa had to score 16 from 8 deliveries, with Lance Klusener and Allan Donald. Klusener, a power hitter struck a 6, retained his strike and followed it with 2 more boundaries to level the scores at 4 deliveries left.
Australian captain Steve Waugh packed the in-field, with the result that at the ante-penultimate ball, Klusener set off for a single, but his unresponsive partner started running without his bat, due to which allowed Damien Fleming and Adam Gilchrist to run him out at the keeper’s end, leaving the Proteas one run short. But Australia due to better performance qualified to the finals over South Africa, where they beat Pakistan to clench the world cup.