Sunday, May 19, 2019

The World of Cricket World Cups - Part 1

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Description automatically generated“It’s that time of the year again, when all of India will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” No, this is not a delayed post, I am not referring to IPL. Maybe I should correct myself – “So it’s that time of ‘once in 4 years’ again, when all of India and millions around the world will be glued to the TV sets for more than a month.” Yes, you guessed it right! It’s Cricket World Cup 2019!!! With less than 2 weeks remaining till the start of the tournament, the excitement should be reaching high levels. But the usual frenzy, the mania doesn’t seem to be the same as seen in earlier editions. Maybe the people are still recovering from the nail-biter of an IPL final few days ago.
However, it provides me an opportunity to express my love for the game and rewind and relive the rich history of the World Cup Cricket. Who would have guessed that the very first One Day International match played on 5th January 1971 to compensate for the three days of a test match being washed away, will become one of the most popular formats of the game? Even with the advent of 20-20 cricket in the last decade or so, the charm and the significance of the 50 over World Cup is paramount.

In the first part of this journey of reliving the World Cups, I will share some of the important and historical facts and events, some interesting anecdotes and trivia for the uninitiated from the World Cups of 1975 and 1979.

World Cup 1975
Officially known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘75’, this was the first of the showcase events of cricket. It had only 8 teams – the test playing nations England, Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand as well as 2 associate nations in Sri Lanka and East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania & Zambia). India was drawn in Group A with England, New Zealand and East Africa. The interesting fact was – each innings was 60 overs, which continued till 1987, when the 50 over format was introduced.

India inaugurated the event against England on June 7. It was the most inauspicious of openings anyone could have asked for – in reply to England’s score of 334/4 in 60 overs at iconic Lord’s stadium, India mustered only 132/3 in their full quota of overs. Sunil Gavaskar, played a scarcely believable innings of 36 not out in 174 balls! His performance was ridiculed by even the then team manager and the rumours of infighting in the team were rife. Madan Lal became the first player to bowl a bowl in World Cup cricket. Deniss Amiss of England faced the first ball and scored the first century in World Cups. Although India defeated East Africa, they lost to New Zealand and crashed out of the tournament. The eventual winners West Indies, continued their unbeaten run and lifted the trophy courtesy a captain’s knock by Clive Llyod in the final (102 off 85 balls) and defeated Australia on June 21.
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Little did the world know, that this was the start of the domination of the West Indies team that would continue not just in the ODI format, but also in the test format for almost the next 2 decades.
World Cup 1979
The second edition of the World Cup was sponsored by Prudential, officially known as ‘Prudential Cup ‘79’. It also featured 8 teams – only East Africa was replaced by Canada. India was drawn in Group B along side West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. This event turned out be even more disastrous for Indian team as they went on to lose all the 3 matches in the group – including against a non-test playing nation Sri Lanka. West Indies again reached the final against hosts England this time on June 23 . Put into bat, West Indies were in a spot of bother at 99/4 when Collis King came out to bat with Sir Vivian Richards at the crease.
They both put on a fabulous display of attacking batting when the team was on backfoot. They both had a partnership of 139 runs, with Collis King scoring 86 off 66 balls before getting out. Viv Richards scored 138 runs and West Indies ended up on a score on 286 runs. In reply, England started off in a test match like fashion. Openers Mike Brearley and Sir Geoffrey Boycott score 129 runs in 38 overs. The match was almost over by then because in those days, scoring at more than 7 runs per over at the end of the innings was unheard of. Graham Gooch played some lofty shots to take the score at 183/2. But after that, an unbelievable collapse occurred, which most probably will never be replicated in a World Cup final. England lost their next 8 wickets for 11 runs, getting all out at 194 runs in 51 overs. West Indies successfully defended their title defence, yet to be defeated in World Cup.
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The West Indies had now truly become a powerhouse of cricket, and no team was looking good enough to compete against them, let alone wrest the title from them.

DHCF Nishant Raizaday for diehardcricketfans

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