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Cricket World Cup – Perspectives Pt:2 – Winners and losers

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Over the 36 years and 9 tournaments of its existence, only 5 teams have managed to emerge victorious at the end and claim the title of World Champion. The West Indies won the inaugural tournament in 1975 and repeated the feat four years later. However, from the time of the upset loss to India in the 1983 final, the Caribbean cricketers have never recovered their championship winning form and have not once since then been able to make a final appearance.{{more}}

The mantle of perennial champions, rulers of the global cricketing roost, has passed to Australia. The Aussies, beaten by the West Indies in the first final in 1975, took twelve years before winning their first championship trophy, in India in 1987. Another twelve years would pass before they triumphed again, in England in 1999, but the cricketers from “Down Under” have maintained a fantastic winning streak since. In winning three consecutive world titles, the first team to do so, they have managed an unbeaten record stretching over 29 matches. Whatever their current form, the Australians will be the team to beat this year.

The only other winners of the World Cup have all come from the Indian sub-continent, incidentally the hosts of the 2011 tournament. Starting with the shock win of India over the then almighty West Indies in the 1983 final, three South Asian teams- India, Pakistan (1992) and Sri Lanka (1996) have each been triumphant once. Additionally, each of the three has also claimed a runner-up spot, incidentally in successive finals to Australia- Sri Lanka (2007), India (2003), and Pakistan (1999).

Not surprisingly, in terms of results, Australia leads the way, having won 51 of its 69 matches played, a winning percentage of 74. But, surprise! Surprise! The next best is not any of the other four World Cup winners. South Africa, was not able to participate in the world Cup until its liberation from apartheid. Since its debut in 1992, the South Africans have got no further than semi-finals, yet they have chalked up an impressive record of 26 wins in 40 matches, a 65% winning record. Behind them come the West Indies and England, in that order.

With regard to disappointments, perhaps the biggest one was that experienced by Caribbean fans when their prize team, then kings of the cricketing world, succumbed to India from a bout of over-confidence in the 1983 final. But, spare a thought for England, which hosted the first three tournaments, 1975/83 and that in 1999. The English team only made it to the final in a lop-sided loss to a rampant Viv Richards and company in 1979, and lost two other finals, in 1987 and 1992. Australia twice failed at the final hurdle, being beaten by the West Indies in the inaugural final (1975) and then by Sri Lanka in 1996, whilst West Indies, India , Pakistan and Sri Lanka have each tasted the bitter cup of Cup Final loss once.

Part 3 – THE EARLY YEARS (in Midweek Searchlight, Tuesday, February 8)